Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Armadillo……my little hole digger

This is not one of Jim’s favorite critters. It makes lots of holes in the yard.  I even keep a shovel by the porch steps so I can fill them in while they are fresh. I have noticed a big drop in the number of Fire Ant hills. I still have to “feed” a mound once in awhile but we used to have at least half a dozen after a big rain.  Now it’s only one or two.

It was raining when I took these. I guess that is why it looks so shiny.


They aren’t really what you’d call “cute”…but I like the little guys.


I kept trying to sneak up on it whenever it was looking the other way.


I must have been doing laundry…I can hear the well pump running in the background.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Garden Spider

This Garden Spider made it’s web just outside the window of my  screen room.

I don’t like spiders…..but they fascinate me.  If they stay outside they are welcome…but they don’t survive long if they venture inside.


Her web has been partially destroyed by the heavy rain we had……she is checking it over before rebuilding.


Here is the rebuild. I found it fascinating that she uses her hind leg to stretch out the web and tack it in place.

I did this post last year and forgot to put it on the blog. Very few Garden Spiders this year. Now we seem to have a large number of big jumping spiders.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Viceroy, Queen and Monarch Butterflies

The Viceroy closely resembles the Queens and Monarchs. Today I thought I was watching a Queen flying around the yard….I was wrong. I noticed a bar on the lower wing that neither the Queen or Monarch has. I grabbed my camera to get a photo so I could compare it.




The one at the top ( photo below)  is a Queen…you can see it is almost the same color as the Viceroy. It even has white dots around the wing…but many more.  You can see that neither the Queen or Monarch has the bar on the lower wing.


Just when I thought I could recognize the caterpillars of Queens and Monarchs….now I need to learn to spot the Viceroy caterpillar.

One of the Viceroy’s larval plant is a Willow. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Great Golden Digger Wasp


On Nov. of 2010 I did a post on the Great Golden Digger Wasp.


I just watched one carry away a Monarch caterpillar. So …if you have a garden…these are going to become your best friends.  I’ve seen them flying around my milkweed plants while I was searching for caterpillars….and they never bother me…but I was surprised when one grabbed the caterpillar before I could get it and fly away with it.

They spend a lot of time on my Bottlebrush bushes. I believe they are nectar feeders but their young feed on insects that are paralyzed and put in nests in the ground. Some use existing holes but most of the ones I see are looking for places in the ground.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Spanish Needle and Butterflies

Spanish Needle plants are considered weeds around here. They are everywhere. I planted one in the yard and now they are spreading. They get very tall ( up to 5’) and leggy. The flowers remind me of tiny daisies.

I had several Zebra Longwings spending time on the Spanish Needle and Lantana.


I spotted at least 6 flitting around the plants. Then a Tiger Swallowtail came in.


They have at least a 5” wingspan. I saw another large Swallowtail and think it may be a female Tiger Swallowtail. I’m not sure….but it is so much larger than the other Swallowtails.


It wasn’t long before the Queens and the Monarchs were visiting the Spanish Needle.


The Queens are really very pretty. This one is a male.


The light on this one gives it a rich velvety look.


This female  is on Tropical Milkweed.


This grasshopper spent a lot of time on the milkweed.


We thought this Hawk was watching a squirrel on it’s feeder…..it looks like it’s wearing a mask…but it’s just shadows.


A squirrel came down the tree and scared it away.  Kind of surprised us.

So far, since we got back from our trip….I’ve released 15 Queens and 8 Monarchs. The Chrysalis on the far R is a Queen. It has a pinkish color to it. The very green one just above the Queen on the R has just pupated and shaped up. It will look more like the others tomorrow.


I’ve been digging up milkweed and planting stalks. When they get through eating that is about all that’s left.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Unusual insects on my Milkweed

I’ve been checking my Milkweed plants daily for caterpillars. The Tropical Milkweed has beautiful little clumps of flowers.


Unfortunately, they are a favorite of the tiny caterpillars. Either that or it is much safer for them there. I am just starting to get blooms again. I just have to keep them from being eaten by aphids or the little guys.

During my hunt…I run into lots of interesting things…like this Swamp Milkweed Leaf Beetle. It looks like a giant Ladybug. I’ve been seeing  things that look a bit like a short slug and turns out it is an immature Leaf Beetle.


Then there is the Large Milkweed Bug….when the little ones hatch there is a mass of small red bugs. They are usually in the buds so they get removed.


Today I found this little guy….I tried looking it up…but no luck. So if you recognize it…let me know.


It’s a beauty…whatever it is.  Probably preys on little caterpillars. I went back to find it but it was gone.

This little fellow was only about 3/4 of an inch long. I believe it is the Florida native Green Tree Frog. We used to have them all over the place but the invasive Cuban Tree Frogs started taking over. This is the second one I’ve seen so far. I hope they are making a come back.

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I was getting a couple of Giant Milkweed ready to go in the Butterfly House. I wanted to water and feed them good and make sure no ants had made their home in the pots. This pair of Tussuck Moth caterpillars were on the underside of one of the leaves. Aren’t they cute? They look like little fluffy dogs or something. I read that they are usually found in large numbers but I only found these two. Guess I need to check the other plants. I don’t mind having a few …but can’t afford to have them eat all the milkweed.


I also found these eggs. I am hopeing they are Lady Beetle eggs. Gotta keep watch on them too.


I probably wouldn’t have noticed any of these of I hadn’t been hunting for caterpillars…..so…..get out there and really start looking your plants over. You never know what you will find.