Monday, May 29, 2006

Anise swallowtail caterpillar and snails


I collected this little caterpillar yesterday on a trail walk.



I also brought home a couple of snails. They are the pale-shelled ones, and they are posing next to one of our "regular" garden snails. The trail is maybe 1.5 miles away, but for some reason we don't have them. So I have decided to introduce a few.

Why do I want to introduce a pest into my garden? Well, I already have the brown kind, and plenty of them. So I might as well have this kind, too. I like bio-diversity, even in my pest bugs. Several years ago, I noticed there were decollate snails at our nearest park, only blocks away. We didn't have those in our yard either. Then I started sticking a few in my pockets every time I walked through the park. Now they are established here, too.

Mantis Monday for 5-29-06









Okay, so this isn't actually a collectible item. It's a picture of one of my favorite "pet" praying mantids from the past. 1979 to be exact.

I didn't name very many of my mantids. When I was a kid and I had a backyard full of them, naming them seemed pointless. The same thing holds true today. But for a while, between my teens and early twenties, I was busy building my life as an adult, and I didn't have nearly as much access to bugs. So when I made the effort to raise one, it became a big deal, and I would give it a name. Actually, I think my boss named him Virgil.

She was a strange woman, my boss. But she liked bugs, and she encouraged me to bring Virgil to work with me. There was a little garden between the storefront and the shop out back where he could hang out. And that fall, Jerry and I brought Virgil with us on a weekend getaway to a mountain cabin.

Sometime between the weekend in the cabin (October) and my wedding (December), I released him. He was getting old, and I wanted him to finish his life as a free mantis.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Upcoming Bug Safari

I will be leading a Bug Safari at the arboretum this coming Saturday. If any of my O.C. friends want to join me, I'd be glad to have you along for the walk. This will probably be my last scheduled Bug Safari tour until September.

Fullerton Arboretum - Calendar

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Link to insect story on NPR

I love public radio.
The Hidden Language of Insects

Update: This was actually a series of reports. I changed the link to view the main page and click on the different stories in the series.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Inchworm on sage

Yay! Praying mantids hatching!

In my yard this morning:
















These caught my eye....


There is a humingbird nest hanging right into a popular trail at the arboretum. One of the eggs has already been lost. I have a tour on Thursday, and I'll check on it again to see if this one is still OK.



Multi-tasking: The female ladybug appears to be eating and mating at the same time.



It was overcast yesterday morning. The only butterfly I saw was this cabbage butterfly resting on a jimson weed. There were actually a lot of bugs on this plant, but I wasn't happy with most of the pictures I took, so I'll try to get more later.

The Pestification of Eucalyptus

The good news is that I have been finding lots of bugs to take pictures of. The bad news is that I find it very tedious to go through all the pictures, weed out all the blurry ones, straighten up all the sideways ones, and figure out which ones to put on Bug Safari. Here are some I took yesterday at the arboretum. I returned to the eucalyptus trees to check on the leaf beetle population.


Lots of damage is evident on almost all new growth. According to what I have found out online, these Australian beetles were first noticed in California only in 2003.



The adult beetles are busy eating the more mature leaves.



Fat larvae match the dusky blue-green leaves.





Some of these itty bitty things among the larvae are different kinds of bugs. I need to get better pictures of them and try to identify them as well.


Larva close-up



Eggs. More destruction will follow.

Monday, May 22, 2006

A moth in the grass





I saw this little moth yesterday as he fluttered around and settled in the grass. He was considerate enough to stay still for me as I got my camera and took his picture. I don't know what kind he is, or if I've ever seen one like him before. I liked his dark reddish brown coloring.

Mantis Monday for 5-22-06


I have no shortage of what I call "cheap plastic mantids." These guys came in a clear pastic tube of assorted bugs that somebody gave my younger son as a gift when he was about 5. Of course, he has long outgrown them, and most of the bugs have been given away, but I saved the mantids.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Awesome spider shedding pictures

While perusing the Gardenweb forums, I came across this amazing series of photos of a spider shedding its skin: Cosmic birth of an alien?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

It's Slug Safari

I have always had what I suppose you could call a passing interest in snails and slugs. (I can't pass one by without stopping for a closer look!) Even though they're destructive in the garden and slimy to boot, there is something undeniably cool about them. After all, they are mollusks!

And since I found the blog SNAIL'S TALES, I have been inspired to take pictures of some of the many slugs that inhabit my own yard. We actually have several different kinds. At least I think they're different kinds. Maybe it's all one kind, and they just come in different colors. Maybe I should find out....



There were these stripey ones.


And these leopard-kinda-spotty ones. Look, you can see his breathing hole.



The striped and spotty ones were the most active. I couldn't get them to hold still.
I like the ripply texture on their backs.




This little pale one barely moved. He barely even extended his eye-stalks.


The black ones were also very shy. This guy took forever to "wake up". There was another black one that never moved during the whole photo session.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Mantis Monday for 5-15-06




My dad found this little bottle on a business trip some years ago. The bevelled glass edges make the design look like it repeats a little. There is still residue of a red powder inside the bottle. I have no idea what it was.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Bugs on my glasses case!

Last week, I got my new glasses. (prescription sunglasses) My eye doctor has a bunch of "Brand X" eyeglass cases that he gives you when you buy non-designer glasses that don't come with their own case. My case, selected randomly, is a bright print with flowers and bugs!


Saturday, May 13, 2006

Homebug updates

I've been lazy and somewhat reluctant to post about my own personal bugs and critters lately. Partly because the news hasn't been all that good, but also partly because I've just been lazy. So here are a few updates on things.

Remember the little premature praying mantis that I found in January (that later died)? Well, a week after he died, I found another one, and altogether I found several baby mantids that had hatched during our warm spell in January and early February. I kept them and fed them until we went on vacation last month, at which time I released them. Most of them, that is. I do still have one.

We have had mixed results with the tadpoles. I had divided them between several classrooms, and also kept a few for myself. Mrs. W's taddies are all little frogs now. (Twice, I haved brought my camera to school with the intention of taking pictures of them, only to discover that I've left the memory card in my computer.) The other teachers had varying rates of success/failure.

Mine have been incredibly slow to develop. Only one is now "fully frogified", with another soon to follow, and a few slugs who barely have legs yet.

In other frog news, my little yellow frog has been having a very rough time. He has been a very finicky eater, and he has been getting skinnier and skinnier.
I'm hoping summer will bring a good supply of
tasty bugs and flies for his dining pleasure.



Remember ET stickbug? OK, well, a few days after his first shed, (many weeks ago) he died for some unknown reason. But I still had his unhatched siblings, and last week, by some miracle, one hatched. His name is ET2. Let's hope he has better luck.

The Monday after our Green Scene at the arboretum, I was there gleaning the little fallen cactus and succulent pads left behind by the vendors, and I found a poor stink beetle that had only its front two legs. All his other legs were gone. I don't know if he was an arboretum beetle, or if he had hitchiked in some vendor's pots, but he had obviously met with a terrible disaster over the busy weekend, and was struggling mightily to stay alive and get somewhere. He is now in a little container on my porch, living on discarded produce and bearded dragon pellets.

Spike, our beloved bearded dragon, is clearly showing signs of slowing down in her old age. I fear this may be her last year with us.


Stanley, my little gecko is doing very well. Eating and growing. Unfortunately, he is nocturnal and
extremely shy, so I don't see much of him. Can you see him in his little margarine-tub house?

Monday, May 08, 2006

Mantis Monday for 5-8-06


This handcrafted silver mantis pin and earrings set was made by my Aunt Elaine just for me. Some of the legs on the pin are "poseable."

Thursday, May 04, 2006

More from the evening primrose: spiders

I had a few minutes before my tour this morning, so I looked at the evening primrose plants again. And found more stuff.

This spider, camouflaged against a stem, looks like he might be sizing up the fly nearby.



This green lynx spiderling has caught itself a caterpillar.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Springtime on the Evening Primrose

There are several patches of evening primrose at the arboretum. The plants are still young, but growing rapidly, and attracting lots of different kinds of insects.



Eggs of the white-lined sphinx moth dot some of the leaves.



They are a lovely, pale green.



A hatchling white-lined sphinx caterpillar is just barely visible. (See the spike on the tail?)



This one was about an inch long, the biggest I saw. Most of the caterpillars at the arboretum live at great risk of predation by wasps. Fortunately for these guys, the weather has been too cloudy and chilly for the wasps. I don't know how big is too big for a caterpillar to be carried off by a wasp.



This one was a similar size, but very pale green. That's one of the things I like about these caterpillars: the variation in coloring.







A few ladybugs. I think they must be anticipating an aphid infestation.






These little beetles were pretty, but I think their larvae are chewing up a lot of the new growth on the plants. (The larvae wrap themselves in the leaves, and they're tiny, so I wasn't able to get a good shot of them. Maybe I'll try again later.)




A small katydid species.



Hatchling nymph of above. (I think)



"Sharpshooter" tree-hopper
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