Archive for July, 2016

Morning Dew

A strong storm system went through before sunset last night.

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I went straight to the computer after an early breakfast …

and was shocked at the size of a spider web stretching from the pine tree to a vine on part of my rock pile.

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Teeny beads of dew lined all the strands of the web.

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Clouds didn’t detract from the web’s sparkling appearance.

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The web measured 3 to 4 feet tall … or more.

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I was too fascinated to think about its height.

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I wondered just how long it would take a spider to weave a web of that size.

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The sun came out after I got back in the house, giving me this view,

before the spider “took”  the web down for the day.

A Passing Spicebush Swallowtail

So few butterflies have visited our backyard this summer. Their numbers have been the lowest I’ve ever seen.

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So, I got excited when a spicebush swallowtail flew across our backyard on its way south. It didn’t stop.

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Our yard’s been full of them at times over the years … them and many other butterfly species too.

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A butterfly in an odd position usually means it’s in the clutches of a predator.

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In this case it was a female crab spider.

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Females are much bigger than the males.

Crab spiders have the ability to change color to match the color of the flower they’re on. Obviously, this one hadn’t changed yet. I have no idea how long the change takes.

Dragonflies in the Yard

So far the butterflies are almost nonexistent this summer. I could probably count all I’ve seen on one hand.

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So, I’ve switched to dragonflies instead. Their numbers are relatively low. At least they’re in the yard.

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Male widow skimmer

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This is another widow skimmer. It’s fresher than the one above. This was the only angle it cooperated for.

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Female widow skimmer

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Halloween pennant — it’s the first I’ve seen this summer.

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I have yet to identify the dragonfly above and the one below.

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It’s like I’ve said before, I don’t need a name to enjoy the find.

Monarch Caterpillars

Here it’s the 20th of July and I’ve only seen one monarch butterfly!

My gardens haven’t had much attention this summer. Very few butterflies have flown through the yard or visited any of the few flowers.

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Monarch butterflies (and many other butterflies species) usually visit butterflyweed.

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This summer, there’s only been the one in this picture.

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Only these flowers persist on the cluster of plants.

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 And then I found a monarch caterpillar in the leaves of the butterflyweed.

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Bright colors in nature are warning colors.

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 You eat me and I’ll make you sick.”

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The monarch butterflies are toxic too.

Another Face

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I always take pictures of the full moon (some, like this one, from in the house). The trees blocked the last full moon until bedtime. So, I took the camera in the bedroom and later took pictures through the south window when the moon peaked through the trees. I didn’t realize until the next day, when I was looking at the pictures, that I photographed what looked like a moon spirit …

The man in the moon does exist!

Comparison

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Both of these dragonflies are widow skimmers. The lower one on the left is an immature male. The other one with the blue abdomen is a mature male.

It was considerate of them to pose for me like this … apparently, they wanted in a blog.

A Catalpa Tree

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 This catalpa tree grows near the middle of our backyard.

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For some reason it had much less flower clusters this year than usual.

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There are more flowers on the upper part of the tree than there are on the lower part.

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One pistil and two stamens form a group near the opening of the flower.

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The lined-pattern on the lower petal are like that for a reason. They guide any visitors up into the flower, and they pollinate it at the same time.

The flowers bloomed the end of May.

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I don’t know what kind of insect this is. It does have long antennae.

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I couldn’t resist the shape and contrast of this abstract design.

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The above caterpillar is younger than the one below.

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I’ve only seen one caterpillar in the last week.

The Returning Groundhogs

My husband has been doing a lot of work in the back-back of our yard. He’s clearing out areas with young trees in vine tangles. I went out to see the recent progress.

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The groundhogs are more tolerant of us now. This adult watched me walk past on the way back to the house. (I was out enough to use the zoom).

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The first generation of young ones were tolerant too.

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We also have smaller ones. I’m not sure if there’s one or two families here now. The youngest ones have lighter gray on the sides of their head.

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There must be many interesting things to watch.

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They are curious and cautious.

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They look like their belly drags the ground when they run for the barn. They are always aware of my presence in or out of the house … and I have the impression they can see the whites of my eyes, even when I’m by the picture window.

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I think they’re cute when they sit up like this and casually look around.

Simplicity

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Simplistic beauty … catches and holds the eye.

Extreme Shortage

The catalpa tree has been a quiet place this summer.

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This leaf had fallen from the tree, and these are eggs of the catalpa sphinx moth. These were the only ones I found. Usually they’re quite numerous.

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This leaf had fallen from the tree too. The caterpillars probably won’t survive since they’re too small to get back up in the tree.

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The caterpillar didn’t like my presence and started making rapid movements that were meant to deter me.

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The movements got more dramatic.

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The caterpillar went from leaf to leaf on its way to the south.

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I left after this dramatic display. I didn’t want to stress it any more.

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The catalpa tree has all its leaves … so I wonder what the caterpillar numbers will be like next year?