Saturday, January 30, 2010

Swarm of bees

This swarm was hanging onto a low branch of the princess tree at the arboretum. It was just a few yards away from an existing hive that is living in a large sprinkler control box. I'm supposing that maybe a new queen had just emerged from that same colony, flew a short distance and was resting and amassing her own group of followers to start her own hive.

New tiny snail

I found this tiny snail in the mucky leaf litter under the ombu tree at the arboretum and brought it home to take pictures. The shell was about 4mm long.

I don't think I've never seen this kind of snail before, so I don't know if it's a baby or just a tiny adult.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sheltered from the storm

Last fall, I found a tiny lizard that had been washed out of its little hiding place by the first big rain of the season. Although he didn't survive, it wasn't long before I saw another little lizard, maybe his sibling, living in that same area of the yard. That one has been lucky. It's been a mild winter so far, and there have been enough sunny days that he has been able to find bugs to eat along the fence and by my compost bin.

There were also adult lizards in this same area, but I haven't seen them since last fall, so they are either deep in hibernation or just gone. My guess is that such a juvenile lizard can't afford to go without food for so many months, so they sleep only when it's too cold, and wake up to feed when they can.

So I've been seeing a lot of this little guy lately. He is bright and active and plump. I decided I would catch him and keep him till the storms are over. Yes, this is what I did with his sibling and it still died, but that might have been because I had found it too late. This one still has a chance.

This picture is from just a few minutes ago, of the sidewalk newly speckled with rain. As I type this, the speckles are gone, and it's just wet.

Monday, January 11, 2010

A problem for the passiflora

No, it's not an excess of Gulf Fritillary caterpillars, although there were several that I noticed on this section of passion vine at the arboretum. If you look closely, you'll see a few red mites around the caterpillar. An infestation of mites is attacking the plant.

When I found the first caterpillar, I relocated it to an uninfested section of the plant, but I soon realized that there were colonies of mites spread out all over the plant, and there is probably no part of it that will not be affected by them. Most of the other caterpillars were already doomed beneath a growing tent of mites, on leaves speckled with infestation.

The last time this happened, a few years ago, the whole vine died and it took about a year for it to come back.

Enjoying the sun

I should feel guilty that people are shivering and shoveling snow in other parts of the country while we're still basking in the 70's, (and today it was at least 80.)
But I'm going to enjoy it while it lasts. Sooner or later, the rain will come.
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