Crawly Creatures

I found this Two Stripe Spider in my water can. It is a very big spider about 2 inches long and for some reason was not bothered by me watering plants or filling the can back up.

The gigantic spider even made a web to catch bugs. Finding a spider in my watering can was bad enough, but I had no idea how many bugs were visiting it.

While weeding, a saw an interesting seed that moved a bit as I pulled weeds. I gave it a poke and it moved on its own and I realized it was an insect. It is sitting on a salvia leaf that is about an inch long. I have looked through insect pictures and could not find it, so if anyone can identify it let me know. (Try to ignore the pine needle under the bug.)

In the spring, mites get on plants which is a bonus for ladybugs.

One of my favorite creatures is the Rosy Wolf Snail. This mature one was looking for food which is other snails and slugs.

And again while weeding I found a baby Rosy Wolf Snail. I put it beside one of the mature empty shells had I found.

The Fertilizer Wagon

It was time to pull out the fertilizer wagon once again. Our azaleas and camellias require three rounds of fertilizer in the spring. I use general azalea fertilizer and one that is systemic to protect against insects for the ailing azaleas and camellias. While I was at it, I hit the other shrubs. The wagon was bought for the kids years ago and I think I have gotten the most use out of it and utilize it for anything I have to haul around the yard.

Around the Garden

The yard turtle that I call Hole in Its Shell got stuck in one of my little fences. I don’t know how long it was there, but it had dug a bit of a hole with its front legs trying to get loose. Now I check my fences twice a day.

Plants always find a way. This ginger just poked through a leaf as it headed toward the sun.

These burrows were made by land mudbugs which can also be called crayfish or crawfish. There are 300 species and you can eat them. I will pass on that.

A Poppy finally bloomed. I planted lots of seeds, but most did not come up. The Green Shrimp plant has been blooming well.

I bumped into another visitor while pulling some weeds. I met this frog last year under the same circumstances. For some reason, the frog does not try to get away and I was able to take many photos.

A native American Holly tree (Ilex opaca ) grows in my wooded area. It is in full bloom and has a pleasant scent. The tree is buzzing with all kinds of pollinators. I was able to get a shot with a bee and Ladybug. American Holly Trees can grow 50 feet tall and I think mine is there. It is 50 feet of flowers for feasting insects.

First Snake Sighting of the Year

I had my first snake sighting for the year. This is a baby Copperhead.

I had been weeding an enclosed area around the Dancing Lady Gingers. I started weeding on the opposite side and the snake never moved. I was glad I had my gloves on as I was very close to the snake before it let me know it was there. Of course, I had to stop weeding for a photo session. I find that Copperheads usually just stay still and watch,

Spring in the Northeast

I do have to say I’ve been enjoying everyone’s posts with Hellebores, Forsythia, and other early-blooming flowers. This past weekend I was lucky enough to catch spring in the Northeast. It was a pleasure to see all the plants I had grown up with in bloom.

We ended our trip watching a jet fly over the rainbow.

Gardening Happenings

I love to pick up interesting bits of nature that I find around the yard and arrange them on my porch table. There are stones, pinecones, Rosy Wolf shells, and two large acorns I found in the woods that are now just caps.

Apparently, someone else was checking out my little display and decided to EAT IT leaving the caps behind. I know it was you, squirrel.

A flock of American goldfinches arrived rather late in the season, it may have been the cold that brought them here. Even from across the yard, they were very skittish and that’s the best photo I could get with the long lens.

The goldfinches stayed around for a few days, so I broke down and bought a bag of the very expensive niger seed which is like candy for these birds.

I was able to get a good close-up from my kitchen window of this hungry birdie. It was eating so fast that its beak had seed stuck on it.

The day after I put the costly seed out, the goldfinches promptly left. Now I have an entire bag of seed. They probably will not return until next year and the goldfinches will not eat the old seed.

After a long week of storms, I found many broken-off tree limbs. This one was driven into the ground, which happens quite often. I’m always thankful I haven’t been impaled by one.

The possum was back out in the middle of the day. Its clean and fluffy fur looked nice enough to pet.

Vultures at Work

While on a morning walk, we came across a committee of vultures. They found some roadkill and the group kept getting bigger.

As we passed the committee parted and walked into the grass, but not in a big hurry.

The vultures finally had enough of having their pictures taken and headed onto the neighbor’s roof. Vultures are very numerous here in the winter. I always imagine they spend the time in a big meet and greet for the youngsters to find a mate. It is believed that they mate for life. I think I mentioned in previous posts, the vultures like to hang out around our high school and the trees along the busy road can be full of them. Vultures on the ground are a committee and when they fly, they are a kettle.

Sugar Line

There was a bit of a lineup of insects trying to get some energy on a cold day.

The impatient wasp nipped the ladybug a couple times, but she would not budge.

The line was stalled.

When I checked back later, the ladybug had moved under the white ring and the wasp finally found the way to the sugar.

Someone is Watching Me

I was refilling the birdfeeder when I felt eyes watching me and sure enough, I looked up and saw a possum in the tree over the feeder. Then I noticed some movement on the ground and another possum was scurrying away. Normally, they are not out in the daylight and my family was concerned, but I did some research and found out possums rarely get rabies.

I have also been finding a lot of food wrapper trash in the backyard which is unusual. I can understand trash in the front from garage trucks and litterbugs, but I have a large front yard and a six-foot fence to get over before any street trash can reach the back. I think maybe I have found the culprits. Possums do like to raid trashcans.

One big mystery is do possums like beer? And can they crush a can when they are finished?

Thanksgiving in the North

This year we headed north for Thanksgiving and were greeted by snow and deer. As usual, I spend much of my time exploring nature while traveling.

The cold snap and snow motivated a squirrel to add leaves to its nest.

A few days later the snow melted and revealed Princess Pine in the woods. Princess Pine looks like a perfect little pine tree and is actually a club moss.

Lycopodium obscurum reproduces with spores and prefers acidic soils and shaded woodlands.

Milkweed was still sending off some seed “fairies”. The northern ones are much larger than the tropical Butterfly Weed I grow here.

Best of all I found some fossils.

We had to say goodbye to family and travel to the airport. As usual, we stopped at rest areas where the employees lovingly decorated their space to bring Christmas cheer to travelers. The elves were modified with tissue paper clothes and many wrapped gifts were under the tree.

A fireplace with a lace curtain repurposed for the mantle cover was created for Santa’s arrival.

The display was completed with paper and pencil to leave a note for Santa.

At the next stop, Mrs. Gingerbread was greeting everyone at the Ladies’ Room entrance, but Mr. Gingerbread was gone. Maybe he needed a bathroom break.

Soon it was time to fly back to the warm South and we took to the sky at the crack of dawn.