A Killer

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When this flying creature is spotted, one’s first thought is to run from the world’s biggest bee. This flying killer makes the human heart jump, but thankfully it is only cicadas that this wasp  (Sphecius speciosus) is after.

Commonly called Cicada Killers, the females hunt and sting cicadas to feed their offspring in nests that are burrowed 10 to 20 inches into soft soil.   The eggs and larvae overwinter and emerge in June and early July.

I first noticed these flying beasts a few years ago. I have to say they are very scary and make a loud buzz. I once saw one carrying a cicada on a pine tree.  Neighbors have complained about knocking at their doors that turned out to be the Cicada Killers.

I got a lucky shot of this wasp with my cell phone.  The Cicada Killers are only up to 2 inches long, but I swear this one was at least 3 inches as she flew around checking me out.

The Cicada Killers do not hurt humans unless they are handled roughly.  I’m not sure who would really want to handle them. I prefer to just let them fly by.


Digging Cicada Hunter

I was working in a bed and noticed something had been digging holes. Of course, I immediately blamed the squirrels for messing up my garden.

Then I hear a loud buzzing sound.  A three inch Cicada Hunter flew to the ground with a cicada in its clutches and popped down the hole before I could get my phone to snap a photo.  I did get the tail end of the cicada being dragged into the nest.

Even though the wasp is huge, I can’t believe the amount of dirt it dug. The wasp threw out enough soil to reach about 12 inches from the hole.  The Killer Wasp is a very impressive excavator.

 


Monster at the Door

This creature was on the door mat.  It is big and ugly at first glance, but once the photo is enlarged, its beautiful colors emerge.

This big bug is a cicada and somehow found its way out of a tree.  I thought it was dead, so naturally I poked it and discovered there was still some life in it.  Later, it managed to crawl to a safer location.

Two more related posts are coming up.

 


Zigging and Zagging

I love the zigzag web this spider makes.  The zigzag is call a stabilimentum and the web radiates out from it. The spider is the yellow garden spider (Argiop aurantia).  This one is probably a female as she is really large.  The spider eats bugs, as well as small green anoles and geckos.  I almost always have one on the potted plants next to the porch.


The Babies Have Arrived and Other Lunchtime Amusements

While eating my lunch, I noticed some activity outside my kitchen window.

Baby Cardinals just out of the nest were having a nice mud bath in my flower bed.

Dad was keeping a watchful eye on the kids.

As soon as Cardinal family left, this Green Anole hopped on the sill to do some bug hunting on my window.

Yup, I know that window needs to be cleaned, it always does.

All the photos were taken through the kitchen window.  I planted the bed with flowering plants that attract all kinds of backyard critters and there’s a feeder for Hummingbirds.  I am always entertained while I dine.


Garden Drama

All life is full of drama or what we like to call “the circle of life”.  These poor caterpillars had really bad timing and made their chrysalis right before a hard freeze.  The chrysalis dropped to the ground and dissolved.

If you can enlarge the photo, the spots on the butterfly wing can be seen.

Luckily, I was looking up before I walked into this scene.  The scary looking spider captured a meal that will probably last  for days.

Yes, in the circle of life every creature has to eat.  This predator is  hanging out near the bird feeder.  It will not be a good day for some poor bird.

Plants are major players in life’s drama, but sometimes it works to their advantage.  I call this plant raccoon grapes.  Raccoons love to eat the wild grapes that grow nearby and apparently like to relieve themselves while climbing up trees.  I often find raccoon scat at the base of my trees.  This process is definitely a win, win for the grape vine.  The seeds get moved to a new location to grow and the raccoon deposit the grapes right next to a tree for the vine to climb up.

A garden is just not a garden, it is full of life’s dramas.


Birding at Twilight

We were sitting on our patio at the end of the day, when the action started. First, a Hummingbird slap down occurred right in front of us.  I swear I saw tiny feathers fly.  The Hummer that hit the ground backed off to the safety of a low branch.

Then I heard a call that I haven’t heard in the backyard for awhile.  I was very pleased that I recognized it was a Summer Tanager.  Tanagers are not seed feeders and are harder to find in the trees.  I used a trick that I learned in a birding class to lure him out.  I turned on the Summer Tanager call on my bird app.  Soon the bird started coming closer and buzzing us as he flew over.  I managed to snap a photo, which is not great in the dimming light, but I did identify him with my binoculars.  After teasing the Tanager for awhile with the bird call, we started feeling bad for the poor guy looking for another of his kind and stopped.

While all that was going on, an American Crow was having quite a fit in a neighboring yard.  Usually, this means that a predator is near.  I finally spotted the raptor and could make out a white head.  I was hoping it was an Eagle, but it flew away quickly through the trees in the twilight with the Crow in pursuit  and I couldn’t get a good look.

All in all, it was a very entertaining evening.