A Girl’s Gotta Eat

I was out chasing flyers today.

I found many butterflies,

dragon flies,

and wasps.

I am glad I spotted this nest before the wasps spotted me.

I was pleased to see a Hummingbird clearwing/Hemaris thysbe in the mix.

Upon closer inspection, the clearwing was not pleased.

It was being eaten by a Green Lynx Spider/ Peucetia viridans.

This is the exact location I find a “Mama Lynx” every summer.

I hope I can witness the making of the egg sac and the hatching of spiderlings again this year.

Stay tuned for more wings.


Named for Neck Color

I hope this is not an insult to the caterpillars. (“You talkin’ to me woman?”)

They are named for their yellow necks, Yellow-necked caterpillars(Datana ministra)

They appear every year on the same little oak.

I notice because the leaves disappear due to skeletonization. Which is a fancy way of saying everything is eaten but the veins.

I purposely disturb them just to watch them twitch.  They go into defense posture.

The adult moth is called the Yellow-necked Caterpillar Moth.  Ho Hum!

It looks like a rolled brown leaf with a scalloped end.  I have never seen one in person.

The poor moth can’t live down its baby nickname.  Kind of like “Stinky” or “Tootie.”


Named After its Food

How would you like to be named after your favorite food?

Ms. Chocolate Eclair? Mr. Potato Chip? Mrs. Pimento Cheese?

Well someone named these bugs after their food, Large Milkweed Bug.


Its Latin name is not much better, Oncopeltus fasciatus. That sounds like a disease!


I found these on my Butterfly weed which is in the Milkweed family.

Here is an adult on a seed pod.

These nymphs do not have wings yet.


They are the same color as the Asclepias blooms.


Is this camouflage? I doubt it.

You are what you eat. These are toxic due to the milk weed seeds that they ingest.

They don’t need to hide.

Flower (Ms. Mongolian Beef)


A Darner Darning

I learned something new today all by myself without books or the internet.

I was trying to get a photo of a giant dragon fly.

My daddy calls these “Snake Doctors” which makes no sense to me.

I thought I understood why they had the other name “Darner.”

I thought it was because they were big and straight like darning needles.

I was trying to get a photo of this dragon fly zooming by.

I put my camera on the action setting. I took dozens of blurred photos.

Then I paused to watch it fly back and forth, back and forth, over and over.

There was a pattern to its flight.

An epiphany occurred in the Flower’s brain.

It was not named for the shape of the needle.

It was named for the act of going back and forth like darning a hole in fabric.

Now that I knew this, I waited for it to fly back by.

Here is a  flyby photo of a darner darning.

I love my little life!





Insect Stalking

I have been out on an insect hunt this week.

I have been looking for newly emerged Cicadas, which I think are beautiful.

Thus far I have only found the split skins/shells

from their molting hanging on the underside of leaves.

I did stumble upon a Mantid in the garden.


It saw me and quickly skittered to the underside of the leaf.


I love watching their heads turn.


I was happy to see this beneficial garden resident.


Just another reason I do not use pesticides.  I cannot poison my friends!




Coffee Scales

I have a Coffee Tree in my living room. I have petted it for two years now.

It has doubled in size due to careful feeding and watering with “banana water.”

I was excited to see little buds forming at the base of each petiole.

Future blooms for the first time!

My joy quickly turned to consternation when upon closer examination

I discovered scale on several leaves and branches.

Scale insect at the base of the leaves.

Those nasty scale parasites had invaded my precious Coffee Tree.

So out comes the Q-tips and alcohol. For another scale massacre.

The dead bodies were appropriately collected in a coffee cup.

I sang my “Killing Them Softly” song as I murdered the flat sticky foe from leaf and stem.

https://floweralley.org/2017/02/11/killing-them-softly-with-q-tips/ ‎

I am happy to report that my Coffee Scales are gone.

I had two other emergencies last week. Stay tuned for these.


Finding the Falls

Across the lake, past the island, under the bridge,


around the bend, through the farm pond


left of the rushes and mallows,


up the creek, under the hornet’s nest


through the floating fungi,




over the sand bar, down by the liverworts


toward the sound of running water, up to the rocks


there is a lovely little water fall.




Killing Them Softly with Q-tips

Feel free to sing this song as you murder mealy bugs.

I have taken the liberty to augment the lyrics of Roberta Flack’s hit from the 1970’s.


Inspecting my plant with a hand lens.


Looking for patches of fluff.


Killing them softly with Q-tips.


Killing the mama and her babes.


Smashing the eggs sacs with my tweezers.


Washing off Honeydew with Blue Dawn.


FLOWER sings while she kills pests.

A Plant that Feeds Ants

I was thrilled to discover my first Red Passion flower bloom last week.


When I checked on it the second day, it had all ready closed.


Upon closer examination, I discovered it was covered with tiny ants.


These ants were busily scurrying between tiny green discs on the outer edges of the sepals/calyx.

I at first thought these green discs to be aphids,

but they were too uniformily spaced.


I had to do a little research to discover their identity.

They are tiny nectaries, produced by the plant to feed the ants.

These ants in residence provide services in return.

They guard the plants against aphids and caterpillars.

If you have been following the FLOWER, you have seen my caterpillar photos,

many of which were taken on my wild Passion flower vines.

I have not seen one caterpillar on this Red Passion flower vine.

So the Red Passion plant has pet ants.

Who knew?