Callapitters and buzzy things

***If you are a long-time reader of my blog, you will notice that I have changed formats. I wanted to put a larger emphasis on my photos. Let me know what you think in the comments! Thanks for reading! ***

No matter how long I live on this piece of property, I will never cease to be amazed at the sheer magnitude of the biodiversity that inhabits this fifteen acres. As a passionate learner of things, I have to tip my hat to a wondrous God who has knit all of these living creatures together into this planet that we call Earth.

Springtime in Texas offers some great opportunities to take beautiful pictures. Whether it’s the wildflowers, the landscape, or the critters that dwell within, you can get some nice photos if you are patient (and lucky) enough.

One of the critters that I have always loved are the caterpillars. When I was little, I would catch the ‘webworms’ (Eastern Tent caterpillars) that fell from the trees. To me, they looked like tiny, living Oriental rugs. As I grew up, I was sad to discover that they would happily defoliate my fruit trees. However, I still love to pick them up and marvel at those little living rainbows.

One of the caterpillars I see frequently are those of the White-Marked Tussock Moth (Orgyia leucostigma). These remind me of the Chinese Lion dancers’ costumes with their lacquered red heads, fuzzy protuberances, and poofy backs.

I found this little guy on our tomato plants yesterday. Since I have sensitive skin, I don’t handle caterpillars bare-handed except for the tent caterpillars, which I know don’t affect me. Even caterpillars who don’t have poisonous or irritating spines can cause skin reactions in sensitive people (like ME). Still, it is noted that this caterpillar may cause allergic reactions in some people according to my guide book. So, gloves it is!

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Now, see if you don’t agree with me on the Chinese Lion thing!

Now for some more garden critter photos!

I took about twenty shots before I got this lazy honeybee to NOT stick her bee butt into the lens rather than her face. I like that I was able to get her feeding on the nectar. Patience pays off!

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Here is a photo that I’ve been waiting years to snap. This is a Grey Hairstreak butterfly (Strymon melinus). They can be flighty little things, which is why I could never get a good shot. Again, patience won when I found these lazy guys on my standing cypress flowers:

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I hope you enjoyed your guided bug tour for today!

 

Creepy Crawlies

Even as a very young child, I have always been attracted to the ‘creepy crawlies’ of Nature.  Snakes, spiders, insects, invertebrates…whatever most people had nightmares about, I was usually out catching them with my faithful bug net. 

I think about my elementary school playground teacher, Mrs. Brown.  Poor Mrs. Brown.  Mrs. Brown probably had some sort of insect phobia (unbeknownst to me) and I was always trying to hand Mrs. Brown all sorts of insects in the schoolyard.  “But, Mrs. Brown, they won’t hurt you!”, I would plead.  She would graciously turn down my tent caterpillar, grasshopper, etc.  I am not sure if she ever did eventually hold any of my prized finds.  Anyway, Mrs. Brown was in the same Sunday school class as my Mamaw and would always tell her how I was forever trying and trying to get her to hold one of my critters and how I would chase boys with worms. 

Anyway, I am proud to say that my own little ones are fairly fearless around invertebrates, and little Zoe carried around a poor tent caterpillar for days, calling it, “my little friend”.  Tent caterpillars, though somewhat destructive to some trees, have always intrigued me.  Honestly, they look like a crawling Oriental rug.  Their patterns are so complex and beautiful.  Here is one of Zoe’s ‘little friends’:

Of course, these little guys do not possess stinging hairs, however many caterpillars DO and some are extremely painful, so be sure you know what you’re picking up!  Here is another little guy  I found on one of our gates the other day. 

 

Generally, the more colorful the caterpillar, the best it is to NOT TOUCH. Not always true, though, as in the case of the potentially dangerous Puss caterpillar ,  which is what your grandparents call an ‘asp’.  I remember Mamaw nearly having a heart attack when I found a Wooly Bear larvae one day beside her house.  “Asp! Asp!  You stay away from that!” as my Papaw ground the poor little Wooly Bear into oblivion.  Naturally, I had to run into the house and grab my favorite book, my Reader’s Digest North American Wildlife identification book, only to discover that Wooly Bears are completely harmless.  Oh well.  You will often see Wooly Bears crossing the road in the fall.

Anyway, here is a neat little spider I found today, hanging out on my dill:

They may be creepy and crawly, but they all really do serve a purpose!  Well, maybe except cockroaches.  I can do without the cockroaches!  But, seriously, I don’t use pesticides for the simple fact that they indiscriminately kill bugs, whether they are ‘pests’ or not.  When you kill one link in the chain of life, the chain can’t go on.