Tuesday, May 09, 2006

For the Birds.

ages and ages ago, darin brought me a bird pepper (capsicum annuum var. glabriusculum). the poor thing has been mostly forgotten in a pot on the deck for the past two-and-a-half years, but has, nonetheless, survived, if not thrived.

but at least someone appreciates this woeful pepper plant. earlier this morning, as i was carrying the sprout around the yard (and trying to herd one of the cats back inside), a mockingbird flew down to dine on the ripe peppers! thanks to our unseasonably warm spring, there are many, many more peppers to ripen for the birds, so i'll keep my eyes open and maybe get a picture one day.

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Saturday, May 14, 2005

Creepy Cool.

(squeamish readers, beware.)

ever seen the movie starship troopers? it can be summarized as giant alien bugs battling the entire human race. and, for the most part, winning.

the assassin bugs are up to something strange on the serrano plant. they're congregating. it's like an assassin bug family reunion, with representatives of several generations in attendance.

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Sunday, May 01, 2005

Assassin Bugs.

much better pics of assassin bugs than i have yet managed -- Wild Animals of South Austin: Assassin Bug

yesterday afternoon i saw a good-sized herd of recently hatched nymphs in the island bed; bye-bye aphids!

Twisty Center for Urban Varmit Research

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Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Slinging Snails.

after months of denial, i finally admitted to myself that the reason none of my rainlilies were blooming was that they were being eaten by snails.

i've always thought snails were kind of cute and the knowledge that they were devouring the rainlily buds as they emerged was hard to accept. however, after a very rainy spring and no rainlily blooms whatsoever, i knew i had to do something.

i have no problem picking snails up, but i absolutely, positively cannot stand squashing bugs / snails / worms / whatever. i can't step on them and i certainly can't squash them with my fingers (gloves or no gloves). i'm also not keen on baits, traps or introducing decollate snails to eat the rainlily eating snails.

so i started slinging snails at the fence.

the idea is that the shells smash against the wood and the snails perish. it's probably a gruesome death and i will probably come back in a future life as a doomed snail. actually, i think most of the snails survive because i have a really lousy throwing arm and throwing snails (especially small ones) is sort of like trying to throw whiffle balls. i suspect most of the snails are just being forcefully relocated to other areas of the yard, so i try not to throw them towards plants i particularly like. i also try to be a good neighbor and not throw too many of them over the fence into the neighboring yards.

since i began my snail slinging program about four weeks ago the rainlilies in the island bed have been in almost continual bloom and the snail population is markedly lower (at least in that part of the yard).

i don't know what i'll do in the long run. i'm partial to the rainlilies, but i'm not going to patrol the snails indefinitely.

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Sunday, March 21, 2004

Cavorting in the Catnip.

bevo (left) and bronte (right) taking advantage of their catnip patch. for some reason, darin always scolds me for letting them wallow in the patch. i thought that was why we planted it in the first place!


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Thursday, January 08, 2004

Two Toads.

i've been meaning to post this for a few days but kept forgetting. after a summer vacation, the toad hole is once again occupied -- by two toads.

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Thursday, October 16, 2003

Two Down, Two to Go.

this afternoon darin took out the two red-tip photinias between the sunroom and the deck. only two remain in the backyard (and one by the driveway).

the red-tip eradication took longer than it might have because i first had to inspect each branch, twig and leaf for monarch chrysalides. the largest of our latest crop of monarch caterpillars wandered off yesterday or the day before and i wanted to be sure it didn't end up in a pile with the red-tip scraps.

interestingly enough, today is exactly one month since the last batch of monarch butterflies emerged. i didn't realize the butterfly weed had recovered so quickly. by tomorrow the remaining three caterpillars will have stripped the foliage once again and moved on.

if i remember correctly, this is the fourth generation of monarchs we've had this year. (shame on me; i haven't recorded each generation as it appeared.)

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Tuesday, September 16, 2003

More Critters.

images/monarch_20030916this morning there were two new monarch butterflies resting in the red tipped photinia by the sunroom.

i am almost certain that these were two of the four monarch caterpillars that devoured all the leaves of the butterfly weed (asclepias tuberosa) last week. new leaves are already appearing on the butterfly weed, which is a good thing since there will almost certainly be another crop of hungry caterpillars soon.

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Monday, September 15, 2003

Garden Residents.

images/anole_20030915look closely to see one of the many anoles that resides in our yard.

this one is perched on a pineapple sage (salvia elegans) in the backyard island bed. i don't know whether the local population of anoles has increased or i'm more attuned to their habits and hiding places, but i almost always see two or three or more each time i go outside.

(click on the picture for a larger view.)

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Saturday, September 13, 2003

Hummingbirds and Pentas.

three pentas (out of five or six) survived last winter and returned this summer, but only one has really thrived. the thriving plant is either the 'new look red' i bought in june 2002, or the unidentified red i bought in july 2002. whatever it is, it's been blooming profusely for the last couple of months.

even though the plant is only a few feet in front of the tv room windows, the hummingbirds have been visiting it. frustrates the cats to no end to have an unreachable hummingbird at eye level.

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