Monday, October 7, 2013

Butterflies Visiting My North Texas Yard in Fall 2013

October is the season of butterflies here in North Texas - and we have several types - I am dismayed because I've not seen the quantity of butterflies as in previous years.  I'm concerned about pesticide and herbicide overuse resulting in declining numbers of these pollinators (at least around my house).  I left the back half of my property un-mowed so that wildflowers (wild asters) could attract them.  I also have lantana, salvia, and turk's cap which are also favorites of these winged insects.  

I purchased a wonderful butterfly identifier wheel many years ago that I keep on my refrigerator.   You can see that it also identifies each distinct caterpillar.

If you have time to watch it, I found a terrific video from PBS Central Texas Gardener on Butterfly Gardening.  It is very inspirational.

I noticed migrating Monarchs began coming through my yard on Sunday, October 6, 2013.  Here is a link to a web site discussing their route to Mexico with a map showing their migration route.

Monarch on wild aster.

Sipping nectar on aster.

Swallowtail on Vitex.  Check out the butterfly's body.  The stripes match up with the wings.  I had never noticed this before on a butterfly - I wonder if they are all this way regardless of the type of butterfly?

Note the 2 striped caterpillars on the most right flower in the photo below.  I think they are webworms and are the caterpillar of a moth.  I'll update the post when I confirm.

 Gulf Fritillary on wild aster.

Outer wings of Gray Hairstreak on aster.

Back of Gray Hairstreak 

 2 shades of black Swallowtail - note that one has a lot of blue.  All are on lantana.

I found a photograph I took this spring of the black swallowtail caterpillar on my dill plant.

I usually see lots of Painted Ladies.  This is one of 2 I have seen this year - worrisome.

Buckeye on aster.

Outside wings of a buckeye.

And finally I got a picture of an Alfalfa Butterfly, although the pictures are not the best.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

My Yard in Early Fall 2013

I've been seeing quite a few critters around my yard here in North Texas lately so I thought I would share pictures of them.  I also have a few things blooming now that the temperatures are falling to the low to mid 90's. 

First up is a Mediterranean Gecko.  See link for more information.  We definitely want to keep these guys around for pest control.  We found a lot newly hatched ones.

I saw another one that is older - the color is definitely coming in.

We see a lot of these Geckos at night on our windows.  Although this picture is not the best - you can see the small suction cups on the bottom of their feet that allow them to defy gravity!

We have tons of Mockingbirds this year.  I love all their songs - to me it makes the backyard seem alive.

Mockingbirds love to squabble!

He's singing his heart out!

Let the record show with this post that I saw my FIRST black capped chickadee today in my yard - we have lived here for 11 years.  The pictures are not perfect, but I'm posting them anyway.

He took off in a flash.

I found a new kind of solitary wasp in the garden.  I cannot identify it so if you have a clue - please let me know.  It digs a hole in the loamy garden soil similar to a Cicada Killer.  

It has pretty blue iridescent wings and flashy red legs.

We have also had a lot of paper wasps.  I found this HUGE nest in a Japanese Black Pine Tree.

We have been in drought conditions around here.  To document how bad it got in my backyard, I'm sharing a picture of the cracks below along with my size 7 foot.

We have had close to 3" of rain recently breaking our drought.  That has caused my Salvia Greggii to go into full bloom - before the rain it looked terrible.  Flame Acanthus is in the background.

The Turk's Cap is also in full bloom because of recent rains.


The rose hips need to be picked and used for brewing tea to add Vitamin C.  Here is a link to a good blog post regarding their use.

My Althea also continues to bloom although the leaves are starting to look ratty.

A fall rose bloom.