Friday, August 31, 2012

She's Eating the Babies!

I stopped by to check on the Fishing Spider babies the other day. You can read all about the over at Mom seemed to be gone but the spiderlings looked to be doing ok on their own.
Well, yesterday I stopped by to check and I saw some motion as I neared the bluestem grass bunch. There, to my displeasure was a female regal jumping spider (Phidippus regius) chowing down on MY babies! She tried to duck and hide behind the stems of grass and in the spiderlings web, but I caught her in the act. The big meany (but she is kinda cute)! No wonder in nature we don't have a thousand fishing spiders walking in tandem after the birth. Probably very few make it through to adulthood. Survival of the fittest spider style.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Fishing in the Culvert

The shadow flew overhead and I saw the bright white as an egret landed by the culvert. They are such majestic birdies. I'm not sure exactly what type of good eats there are, but I suppose since the water levels are relatively low for this time of year, it might just be an easier spot to dine than, say, my pond. As I approached to get a closer shot, birdie flew maybe 20 feet away, working his (her?) way down the block. I watched for a little while and eventually (s)he took off. I love watching the takeoffs and landings. A naturally better experience than a trip to the airport.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Rockin and Rolling Caterpillar Style

I was out looking for the caterpillars of the Variegated Fritillary butterfly on the Maypop the other day. I had seen the butterfly laying eggs a while back and wanted to see if any progress was made. No luck…I think perhaps the ants ate all the eggs. Too bad, but I will continue to monitor and hope for the best.

Out of the side of my eye, I glanced over at a groundsel bush (Baccharis halimifolia) and watched with amazement as this bagworm was rocking and rolling and swinging the bag back and forth as it voraciously ate away at the leaves of this Florida native shrub.

Until recently I hadn't really paid too much attention to bagworms, thinking they were merely cocoons awaiting emergence of the concealed occupant. Well, again I was astonished by the critter within as at least an inch or more of caterpillar was leaning out of the bag while it dined away. Of course as I got close the resident retracted and went back to "playing possum" (thanks again to Carole Brown for the apropos terminology).

I've tried to find it again thinking I would perhaps capture it and raise it in captivity to learn a bit more, but alas, my decorated friend was nowhere to be found. Perhaps he read my mind and decided to continue the ride on the wild side, hiding from my thoughts and anticipations.

Friday, August 3, 2012

It Just Never Goes Away

OK, I live here for 6+ years and I've "eradicated" the invasive Elephant Ears (Xanthosoma sagittifolium) that the prior owner seemed to live for. And yet, once again, they rear their ugly heads. Yes, this is the problem when people landscape with exotic species.

My Class II Invasive "ears" grow on the septic side, where they dig in next to the a/c unit. I don't always go over to that side of the yard, except to mow the septic area and cut back anything that attempts to grow around the a/c or creeps under the house. I was quite surprised that they had gotten so huge and out of hand. I mean, it really hadn't been THAT long since I mowed. Pretty much I have to mow every 4 days….it's rainy season, after all. But, that is a problem with invasives. They grow so unbounded and quickly that it can make your head spin.

So, I grabbed my trusty shovel and dug out the culprits and have them hanging upside down, roots to be fried by the sun until no longer viable. That is unless I find someone with a nice burn pit.
I suppose they are once again eradicated…until next time they pop up. Curse you invasives!
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