Saturday, December 27, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Sunday, December 07, 2008
There are some clumps of tall ornamental grass that the caterpillars like to hang from in order to make their chrysalis.
A jewel of nature.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
You can see in the photo above that his left front leg is slightly malformed. Also, you can see a weird little "finger" of his left mandible is also jutting out in an unnatural manner.
Without a full complement of mouthparts, and a sub-par set of graspers, eating has been a little difficult for him. This may have something to do with his being so small this late in the year, although I don't know if it's the cause or the effect of his problems.
In any case, I decided to return Lefty to the arboretum this morning, to live his life in the perilous freedom that Nature intended. Next weekend, I will be going on a little trip, and I don't want to have to worry about him languishing in a bug container while I'm away.
ETIII is another story. Her leafy eucalyptus branches can stay fresh for several days in the little vase in her container, and my boys can manage to give her a quick spritz of water once a day.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Anyway, here's another even more amusing story about someone trying to use his humble artwork to help pay the bills.
Broke Man Tries Paying Bill With a Picture of a Spider
Monday, November 03, 2008
Apparently, one egg fell through the cracks. Literally.
Yesterday, I found this ET hatchling on the side of a trash can, just inches away from the very vine where her momma used to hang out. I hope there aren't any more out there, but there may well be...
Saturday, November 01, 2008
Luckily, I have found that these bugs also have another common name: shield bugs, referring to the characteristic shield shape of the adults. So from now on, I will refer to them as shield bugs.
Friday, October 31, 2008
In a previous post, I saw a female Cloudless Sulfur butterfly laying eggs on a little cassia tree. Now that same plant is just loaded with eggs and small caterpillars.
I've never seen a sulfur chrysalis this color before.
Green larva on leaves
Thursday, October 30, 2008
I picked up the lizard, and pulled gently on the shell. There was no way I could pull it off without wringing the reptile’s neck. There was no telling how long it may have been stuck, but I didn’t want to leave it to suffer for days or even weeks before it slowly died of thirst or starvation. So I brought it to the attention of a couple of the garden staff working nearby, Greg and Jonathan. They were appropriately impressed by the lizard’s predicament, and immediately began brainstorming about the best way to remove the shell, which was smaller than a golf ball, but extremely hard, like a coconut shell.
I tagged along (I found the lizard, after all) and we all went to the service yard, where an array of tools were available to try to crack the shell without cracking the poor lizard’s tiny skull! First they put it in a vice, but the roundness of the kernel made it hard to tighten without it shifting around in the clamp. I suggested that maybe we could use a drop or 2 of olive oil and "lube" it free, much as a person might work a too-tight ring off their finger. I don’t know if there was even any olive oil in the arboretum’s little kitchen, and I didn’t want to chance using soap on a lizard, but it didn’t matter, because the guys had already moved on to the next piece of hardware: a hacksaw.
Carefully and slowly, Jonathan sawed on the tough kernel shell with one hand as he held the lizard in his other hand. Every few seconds he would stop and check the progress of the shell. It was slow going. The lizard was squirming a little, but not as much as I was! Finally, the saw just barely broke through, but the shell was still intact. The next step would be to hold a chisel in the cut and tap it with a hammer. They set the lizard down, held its captive head steady and began tapping, tapping….
Suddenly the kernel shell gave way and split apart, and in that same instant the lizard dashed across the yard at an incredible speed. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a lizard move that fast! We all thought we might have seen something on its head. Whether it had been injured, or whether it was just a bit of shell still stuck on its head, we will never know because that little guy just kept running, but the fact that it could run so dang fast was encouraging.
Tools, empty shell halves and a long-gone lizard.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Lefty, the tiny mantid I collected last week, is still doing well. I'll post some pictures after he sheds his skin, which should be soon.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Although he was hanging out on this Society Garlic bloom, there were Milkweed plants and some other things nearby that had yellow on them, but I'm not really sure where he was feeding and where he got that color from.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
A few weeks ago, arboretum workers pruned the huge Ombu tree. It needs pruning every year, because it's heavy and it grows so fast. The severed limbs were put through a chipper, and the resulting mounds of mulch have been composting vigorously. Yesterday morning I noticed steam rising from the top of the pile, and it looked for all the world like a mini-volcano. Today, I returned with my camera to take pictures.
A brief video of steam rising from the mulch. The little black box is the LCD display for a temperature probe I brought along.
Mulch volcano, ringed by little mushrooms. I'm guessing it was too hot up on top for the mushrooms to grow.
The ambient temperature outside the mulch pile.
The reading with the temperature probe plunged about elbow-deep into the mulch. By the way, this handy little gadget normally gets plunged inside our Thanksgiving turkey, among other edibles. Don't worry, I've already washed it.
Views of the mushroom "village"
...and I need to have a bug in this post, so here is a little fly hanging out in the Mushroom Village.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
I followed it a little way...
... and it led me to this beautiful creature.
She was reeling in her silk line. I think she was eating it.
She had an enormous bum! Full of eggs, I'll bet.
I marked the spot on the trail with an arrow of twigs. I do this occasionally so I can try to re-find the bug in question at a later date. Crab spiders usually stay within in a small territory, as long as food is available. I will check on Saturday morning before the Bug Safari and see if she's still there.