Archive for October, 2015

Jumping Spiders

Jumping spiders have eight eyes and eight legs like other spiders do.  The two center eyes are particularly large.

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 Their size ranges from 1 to 22 millimeters long. And they can move! This one didn’t want its picture taken.

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They inject their victims with venom.

… I think they’re so cute! This one looks like royalty with the way it’s “dressed.”

Backyard Perch

The pair of groundhogs raised a family of four under our barn. I’m not seeing all of them now, so I’m wondering if the young ones have dispersed?


This was the first time I’ve seen a groundhog on the


“platform” the red foxes used regularly when they lived under the barn late last winter.


The groundhogs raised four this summer.


The vixen and four kits usually stayed outside and near the barn; the male hunted for food.

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Buffy took a dim view of any others living in her territory!

It will be interesting to see who lives where next year.

Saffron Crocus

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I planted saffron crocus bulbs in my butterfly garden years ago. The patch grew thicker and thicker. The number of flowers varied every year.

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The long red stigmas are the saffron part of the flower. I used tweezers to harvest them.

My daughter-in-law really likes to cook so I gave her bulbs one year for Christmas.

I now have three in bloom and several that aren’t.

Afternoon Clouds!

Recent weather patterns created dramatic clouds …

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deciding which way to blow.

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leaving a trail to follow.

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a bird taking flight.

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 framing a waxing moon.

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   modified flying carpets.

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following the sun.

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the cloud’s spreading tail.

Goldenrod Blotch Mine?

Identification of this find was over my head. I couldn’t find it online or in any of my resource books.

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What I know for sure:

I took these pictures in early October last year.

The plant was a goldenrod.

The “spot” was insect related and measured roughly 3/8-inch in diameter.

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Of course, the goldenrod plant dried … maybe the insect emerged before the cold arrived.

I’ve called it a blotch mine and have seen similar pictures.

 I don’t need a name  to enjoy the find … it didn’t know its name either.

Uncooperative Caterpillar

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This caterpillar wouldn’t stop and rest so I could take its picture.

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It knew where it was going and was determined to go there.

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With it under a hackberry tree, I knew it was a caterpillar for either a hackberry or tawny emperor butterfly.

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After a considerable time of research, I’m almost certain it was a tawny emperor caterpillar.

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A tawny emperor butterfly

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 nectaring on a white coneflower.

Cloud Humor

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And There I Was

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For some reason, I started thinking about snakes this morning,

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because I haven’t seen one in the yard this year.

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It brought back a memory of an encounter I had several years ago with a kingsnake.

Many many years ago, after I started birding, I still hadn’t seen a wild turkey. I’d heard them gobble. There was an area up the hill from my camper, where I’d seen a lot of turkey scratching. Dressed in camouflage, camera in hand, I got situated at the base of a tree that gave me a good view of the area.

There I sat … and sat … and dozed off. The wind started blowing … only it wasn’t the leaves rustling in the wind … it was a LONG kingsnake coming straight  for me. It hadn’t seen me in my camouflage. Somehow, I held my camera, got to my feet and stepped backwards several feet. The snake stopped when it came to where I’d been sitting because the ground was warm.  My hands shook to much to take a picture (The lens was zoomed in too close anyway.) The snake continued on, and I headed for the Blazer. It was in line to cross my lap if I’d been asleep.

A Friendly Hackberry Butterfly

I came into the computer room to work on a blog, and there was a hackberry butterfly (Asterocampa celtis celtis) on the inside of the picture window.

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I put a pint jar over it and slid a piece of paper between the window and the jar.

I couldn’t  figure out how it got in the house … unless a caterpillar somehow got in the house, pupated, and emerged today (August 30).

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I sat on the front porch, taking picture after picture of it

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from different angles.

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It seemed intent on exhibiting its wing markings.

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Adding a profile showed its proboscis, a “straw” coiled when not sipping moisture from damp places.

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They seldom visit flowers and prefer sap flows, fermenting fruit,

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tree sap and animal droppings … and sweat.

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The adults seldom visit flowers and are commonly found at moist places, on fermenting fruit, tree sap and animal droppings.

They lay their eggs in masses, and the larvae are gregarious when young. The partially grown caterpillars hibernate through the winter.

A Mushroom

Our hot dry summer didn’t produce any mushrooms in our yard. Imagine my surprise when I saw this one from a distance …

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 Only is wasn’t a mushroom. It was a small acorn.

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The cap measured about half-inch in diameter.

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What is really interesting — is that there’s no oaks growing anywhere near it. There are several tall trees in the vicinity:  an elm, a few maples, a cottonwood and two sweet gums.

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So how did a “mushroom” appear in the yard, in an area with no oaks?

Maybe it was a present from the tree faeries.