Friday, November 21, 2014

Lost Ladybug Project

I found this ladybug yesterday afternoon in a wheelbarrow filled with rainwater. I thought for sure it had drowned. But nope, it was still alive! Picture, please, for the Lost Ladybug Project. Then I set it free on a milkweed loaded with aphids. Meet a parenthesis ladybug (Hippodamia parenthesis), a native species.
Check out this LLP contribution here.

Friday, November 7, 2014

A walk in the Wildscape

I headed out the back door and spotted this handsome wolf man. But, alas, he's missing a leg and likely passing soon.
We've been gone a lot lately. Then rains kept us inside, and I had deadlines to finish. So today was the first time I'd strolled through our Wildscape in a long, long while. GLORIOUS! WONDERFUL! I love nature so much.
This is a new butterfly species to me. Meet this pretty long-tailed skipper (Urbanus proteus).
A puss caterpillar! (Also called an asp.) First one I've ever spotted in our gardens. DON'T TOUCH! 
A banded argiope that I just happened to spot!

Look, a Gulf fritillary child!

Can you find her? The orbweaver?

I spotted this dapper jumping spider guy and took a bunch of photos. You can almost see his little spider brain working as he crawls atop the chain link fence. ANT!

I had to share some photos of the coreopsis that's growing quite happily in a rock! There's a life lesson there somewhere...

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

New nightshade and milkweed!

This past weekend, I attended the Texas Master Naturalist state conference at MO Ranch near Hunt, Texas. I always enjoy meeting and visiting with other Naturalists and nature experts. For instance, I got to see my friend, wildlife biologist Ricky Linex, who's with the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Saturday morning, I took his "Plant ID by Family Association" class. As part of his program, he had rooted specimens of a mystery species that we keyed out as a class. They turned out to be Texas nightshade. You might guess what I was wishing and hoping...

"If any of y'all want to take these home, go right ahead," Ricky drawled. (I LOVE to him talk...his accent is REAL TEXAN.) "Just plant'em, and they should take off."  

Oh, happy day! I INSTANTLY raised my hand! Needless to say, I bagged three nightshades with roots.

At the conference's silent auction, someone brought native plants, including four species of milkweed. (Another "Oh, happy day!") We already have antelope horn in our Meadow but not swamp, slim or green. I jotted down a bid for each. Later, another lady outbid me on all of them. Hmmm. I didn't want to be mean. Maybe I should just concentrate on "winning" one? So back in my room, I checked out the three species online and learned that only green milkweed (Asclepias viridis) occurs in our area. Long story short, I got to take home my green milkweed baby! 

I planted all my new friends yesterday in our Wildscape. Welcome to our home, y'all! And thank you, Ricky!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Lost Ladybug Project

Spotted this tiny lady beetle on my arm last Saturday while attending the Texas Master Naturalist state meet at MO Ranch near Hunt. He/she's been confirmed by the Lost Ladybug Project experts as a Brachiacantha quadripunctata. You can see my other contributions to this citizen science project here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Sue's suet recipe

Here's an email from Sue K. with our Texas Master Naturalist Highland Lakes Chapter:

I am seeing a lot of our fall and winter birds on migration starting to show up at our feeders and out in the lake! This is my very favorite time of the year and we can start counting birds again for the Cornell lab of Ornithology. So it is also time for y'all to start making suet if you haven't already. I am sending out my recipe and the birds will love you for making it for them. Don't forget that FeederWatch starts on November 8th. Happy fall, y'all, and start counting those birds!

Suet Recipe
1 cup crunchy peanut butter

1 cup of lard

2 cups of quick cook oats

2 cups of corn meal

1 cup of flour

Melt lard and peanut butter in microwave or over low heat. Stir in remaining ingredients and pour into square freezer containers about 1/2 inch thick to fit your suet baskets. Store in freezer until ready to use. This makes about six suet cakes. If you want to add nuts to this recipe the birds love the addition.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Friday outing to our land

Zizotes milkweed going to seed!
Plenty of healthy antelope horns, another milkweed.

We LOVE our Indiangrass!

A mystery species.....probably sweet everlasting
(Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium).

Lindheimer muhly is also gorgeous and TALL.

A teeny tiny mystery species.

A greenbrier without thorns?

And a MAGNIFICENT twist leaf yucca!