Monday, July 31, 2006

Celebrating Mantids

I haven't posted too many praying mantis pictures lately, other than my regular Mantis Mondays. Sometimes I feel like it gets boring if I post about the same thing too much. But this is the peak of praying mantis season, and I not only want to show off this year's captive-raised mantis, (below) but also to acknowledge 3 other blogs that featured mantids recently.

She was one of the mantids that hatched in January, when we had unusually warm weather for several weeks. She now lives free in my front yard.

I spotted this tiny guy at the arborteum a couple of weeks ago. He hatched on schedule by arboretum standards.

Ethan has posted mantid pictures in 3 separate posts, here, here, and here.

Snail's Tales has a mantis that caught a butterfly here.

Kathleen's mantid can be seen feeding here.

Nice to know I'm not the only one who appreciates these insects.

Mantis Monday for 7-31-06

My sister bought this T shirt for me a few years ago. She said she couldn't help thinking of me when she found it, and got it even though she didn't really expect me to wear it in public.

And yes I do wear it in public.

Friday, July 28, 2006

The mystery eggs hatched already.

Two of them, at least. Looks like little assassins of some kind. Teeny tiny. (The eggs were probably only the size of poppy seeds, only square.)

One of them wandered away as I was trying to take their picture. (They are pretty quick.) I later found him, climbing on my shoe.

A closer look at the eggs. You can see which one is empty, and if you click on the picture to enlarge it and look very carefully, you can see the little circular "lids" for each egg.

A small stockpile of stuff

These are some pictures from my recent local wanderings. I wanted to post them before they get too old. I might add that I am posting from my back yard, sitting on the grass with my computer resting on an upturned cardboard box. There are all manner of pesky critters crawling on me and flying across the screen, and when something rustles in the bushes, Boomer runs over to make sure it doesn't come out here and run across my leg. But if I end up with West Nile virus next month, I'll know why.

The best thing about these spiders is that they usually build their webs down low in the shrubs, so you won't get one in the face, like some other orb-weavers.

Red Admiral. I haven't seen too many of these.

In the evening, at the arboretum, the bees were having a leisurely time on the passion flowers. It made it easy for me to get some good close ups.

To get to where the nectar is, the bees have to go under what looks like a shoe, and get "stepped on" with pollen!

(These are the wackiest flowers, aren't they?)

A fig feeding frenzy

Ho-hum, back to my front porch for a hansome moth. An olive green cutworm moth, to be exact.

...and a slender beetle of some kind.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Big Red Dragonfly

In the net

On a stick

Good dragonfly photos are probably a dime a dozen, especially at this time of year, and these aren't even that great. But dragonflies are so big and awesome, I just can't help trying to take a picture when I get a chance. I once dislocated my knee trying to catch one, so it's a big deal for me if I can get one.

So. Cal. Scorpion!

My friend, Seon, captured this creature in her house a few weeks ago. I asked her to save it for me until I could take a picture of it. This is not in the desert, either. It's in Anaheim Hills, right in the middle of Orange County. Who knew?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Mystery eggs

I almost forgot: I found these eggs this morning on my walk to the park. I don't know what kind they are. Maybe I'll just put 'em in a container and see what hatches.

One that got away...

Last night, since by some miracle it was starting to cool off a little, we went to the park. Jerry and Brice played racketball while I prowled around for bugs. I didn't want to bring my collecting stuff and my camera, so I just brought my camera. I saw two mantids and a bunch of grasshoppers, both of which I have oodles of pictures of already, but I decided I would come back and collect them this morning. (the mantids to add to the dwindling gene-pool in my yard, and the grasshoppers to feed to Spike, my aging bearded dragon.)

So, back to the park this morning with my collecting stuff, but no camera. I collected some grasshoppers and was able to re-find one of the mantids, a male. But I also saw a really cool wasp hunting along the ground, down in the dead grass. It was at least 2 inches long, and the body was a bright iridescent blue. Its eyes were blue, too, and they gave me a look that said "Hey, I'm a magic wasp and you can't catch me!" Of course, I tried to catch it in my net, but after a few tries, it flew away and I lost sight of it. Bummer. I tried to search online for a "big blue iridescent wasp", but so far I haven't found anything yet.

Yellow frog sighting

I hadn't seen my little yellow frog for several days. I was beginning to fear that it had died from the heat. I continued to water the plants twice a day, and this morning I was gratified to see his little yellow self, looking to be a bit plumper than last time!

ET shed her skin again the other night. This time, for some reason, she didn't eat it this time. I was able to get a good picture of the whole skin.

A little birth, a little death, a little cuteness

The weather here has been unbearable lately, as I'm sure it is in so many places this summer. I have been living indoors too much of the time, and too lazy to tend to my blogging, but I have been taking a few pictures here and there. Even in the sweltering heat, there are plenty of bugs to see when I take the time to look.

Caterpillar hatchlings, (probably cutworms or something dull like that) begin their life's journey sailing down to earth on silk threads.

One of our dreaded drop-on-your-head-from-the-doorway spiders, trying to prove its usefulness.

A cute little fly resting with its speckled wings folded. I don't think I've ever seen this kind of fly before.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Monday, July 17, 2006

Mantis Monday for 7-17-06

This was my first piece of mantis jewelry. It's a piece of bone or ivory with the mantis etched on it. I think it used to be green, but the color faded over the years. My dad had it made for me many years ago. He said he had to show the artisan a picture, because the man didn't know what a praying mantis looked like.

Funny thing about my dad: he has always been somewhat puzzled by my lifelong interest in mantids, and though he hasn't said anything in a while, he used to hope I'd "outgrow" this silly hobby. But over the years, he has also managed to add a number of little mantis things to my collection. (Love you, Daddy.)

Sunday, July 16, 2006

A great mantid photo..

..from another bug aficianado. I especially like the caption on this!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

More hummingbird observations

I am amazed that the mama and baby hummingbirds are still in my backyard. The baby stayed in the Chinese elm tree until yesterday, when I heard his call coming from our crepe myrtle tree. (I had never recognized the call of a baby hummingbird before the experience I've had observing this little one.)

Mama was still feeding him, but he was also hovering around the white blossoms, and poking his beak in here and there. Maybe he is learning to feed himself there. I was lucky to take this picture when his mama came. After she fed him, they darted among the branches and suddenly flew off together into the yard behind us. I wondered if this was the last time I would see him. But minutes later, I heard his call from uphill in the next yard and then both birds came back to the crepe myrtle again. So his independence and boundaries are growing, but he's still hanging around.

There they are, in the circle.

(Fuzzy zoom-in!) I turned down the saturation in the colors of the background, so you can see the birds better. The baby has his beak open to receive a feeding.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Mantis Monday for 7-10-06

This little handmade mantis plant-sitter is sitting in a plant on my front porch.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Summer Sunsets in the garden

Originally printed in the Fullerton News Tribune

The Fullerton Arboretum has extended its operating hours for the summer so residents can enjoy evenings in the garden. Regular hours of 8 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Monday through Thursday will be extended in July until 8 p.m.; in August until 7:30 p.m.; and in September until 7 p.m. Curators of the garden said the extended hours will allow the public to enjoy warm summer evenings, beautiful sunsets and a wide array of birds and other animals that become active in the evening hours. Several collections are geared toward California’s summer climate, including the “Mediterranean Collection,” which includes chaparral and plants from the Channel Islands. The “Desert Collection” includes opuntia, agave and many other dry climate plants. The arboretum is on the campus of Cal State Fullerton at 1900 Associated Rd. Information: 714-278-3407 or

Thursday, July 06, 2006

ET Sheds

I caught my ET stickbug in the act of moulting this afternoon. This is her third moult. (I'm tentatively calling it "her" now. Not entirely sure about it, though. )

She was inside her jar, of course, which makes it a challenge to photograph. I took 60 shots, and ended up with 10 that I kept for this post. (You gotta love digital photography!)

At the beginning, you can see the head has just emerged from the old skin.

Side view

The "arms" pull free.


She turned around, now head up.

A view of the "naughty bits."

Another view. So are these female parts?

After a little rest, it was snack time. She ate her whole shed skin in just a few minutes.

Here she is eating a leg of the old skin.

Monday, July 03, 2006

A baby hummingbird *Updated*

I spent much of yesterday preoccupied with a young hummingbird that had apparently left his nest before he could fly. At about 7AM, I noticed Boomer sniffing intently at a spot in the middle of the grass. I went to see what was so interesting, and found this little guy.

I decided to move him to a more sheltered area, because I knew it was going to be a really hot day. After a few failed attempts to get him back into the tree that he most likely fell from, I settled on leaving him under it. I took care to keep the dogs away from him. I checked on him frequently throughout the day, and I was relieved to see his mother continued to come and care for him.

She continued to come to him until it got dark. I checked on him once with a flashlight before I went to bed, and again first thing this morning. He is still there. His mama is still feeding him. Hopefully he will be strong enough to fly soon.

Update: 7-03-06 8:45PM
The little bird spent the whole day in the same spot. His mom continued to come and feed him. I didn't go too close to him this time, but he seemed to be doing very well. He was sitting up tall, preening himself and exercising his wings. I checked on him just before dark, and it looks like he is settling in for the night.

Final update: 7-06-06 9:00AM
On the morning of July 4th, the little hummingbird was hovering among the lowest branches, but still essentially within about a foot of where he was the day before. When I checked on him after breakfast, he was gone, but since then, I have come to believe he is now way up in the tree, but still hanging around. I can still hear mom and baby calling to eachother, and I can see the mom darting in and out of the tree, but the little guy is too hidden in all the leaves and branches, and he keeps moving around up there. So, as far as I can tell, he's OK!

Mantis Monday for 7-3-06

I learned of the existence of this animated short film last November. It recently became available on DVD at this place called Short Film Central, so I ordered it, and now it is the newest addition to my collection of praying mantis stuff.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Today's theme*: The Jimson Weed

I have noticed lately that the jimson weed has lots of bugs on it. It's a pretty plant, too. (poisonous, too.)

I love these spiky seed pods. (OK, on to the bugs!)

Another of the many katydids I've been finding

These 3 lined potato beetles were all over the plant. I didn't see any larvae yet, though.

This guy is showing off his handiwork.

This picture isn't 100% in focus, but I still like it.

*No, I'm not starting some kind of "daily theme" thing. I just gave this post a theme.

Recent sightings

This is a wasp I caught in my yard. I don't know if I'd ever seen this kind before. It was big, and fast-moving. Even in the jar, it never stopped moving.

A big drone-fly on my front gate

A bunch of stuff from the arboretum, among other places:

Katydids are all over the place.

This is a freshly-moulted milkweed bug, next to its old skin.

I wonder if these are young argiope orb-spiders that haven't grown into their distinctive yellow and black coloring yet. Or maybe they're just males, smaller and less flashy.

I found lots of little inchworms on these flower clusters.

I find these little caterpillars to be very attractive, but hard to photograph because their heads are always down in the flowers.

Here's an inchworm I found in a white rose early one evening.

Green Lynx spiders on duty
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