A Killer

IMG_2805

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.


Garden Happenings

There is nothing like starting the day being greeted by a happy Mexican Sunflower drenched in morning sunlight.

 

 

In my wooded area I came across ten or more Cicada Hunters.  They look like the world’s largest bees, but  they didn’t pay any attention to me and I was able to stand among them to snap a photo.  In the front yard I found a Rosy Wolf Snail shell.  It was a large one and the snail probably lived a long life.

 

There has been a new hatching of baby lizards and they are everywhere.  The other night when we arrived home in the dark, we were first greeted by a juvenile toad and in the corner of the brick pillar, a Carolina Wren was tucked away for the night.  I haven’t gotten a photo this year, but Pileated Woodpeckers have been announcing their arrival to the garden.

Why and what did this?  Some critter made a neat little path through my Balsam Impatiens bed.  It is always hard to leave the the garden and after some time away, the weeds took over a bed.

And now the weird and amazing.  I found mushrooms growing in a bag of compost.  I had planned to use it months ago, it never happened and the mushrooms grew.  Plants just can’t be stopped.


Summer Bloomers

—————–

The summer heat is on and we are looking at 102f degrees (actual temperature) for the next few days.  Thankfully, some of my faithful flowers can take the heat.

The Texas Star Hibiscus (Hibiscus coccineus) greets me from my kitchen window each morning.  Yes, we do like to name as many things “Texas” as we can.  I recently found out that George Washington also grew this plant. He probably didn’t call it Texas Star.

The Black Eyed Susan is a reseeding annual and can pop up anywhere in the garden.  I never mind volunteers and just transplant them back in their beds.

The seeds for this Cleome are from my father, who always called them Spider Plants.

Many bloggers have shown photos of Purple Cone Flowers.  I just have one hanging on, as the deer and rabbits ate most of the flowers.

Butterfly Weed is ready and waiting for the Monarch Butterflies.

I was in total awe when I first saw a Shrimp Plant (Justicia brandegeana), I had never seen a plant like it.  Now, it happily fills my garden from a cutting given to me by my mother-in-law.

 

 

 


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.


Freak of Nature

It was a hot and steamy morning.  The backyard critters were lined up waiting for their breakfast.

I walked outside, not totally caffeinated yet,  my eyeglasses fogged over in the humidity.  As I trudged across the yard to feed the animals, my skin was becoming wet from the moisture in the air.  And that is when I saw it.

A freak of nature.  The dark red plant had the wrong flower blooming on it.  I dried my glasses and shook my head awake.  I then realized it was a zinnia perfectly centered on a celosia plant.

I retreated to the cool of the air conditioning, finished my morning coffee and contemplated on what I had just seen.


Bloom Where You Are Planted

Bloom where you are planted.  I’m sure someone came up with this saying after observing plants.  Not all plants feel this way. In particular this violet that is on the rocks.

This Australian Violet (Viola hederacea) had other plans.  It was planted last year in the bed about 4 feet back from the rocks.  Apparently, it was not happy there and spent the year crawling to the rocks where it has made lots of leaves and flowers. How did it know the rocks were there?

The original violet I purchased many years ago has since disappeared, but at the time it was sold with a tag labeled Confederate Violet.  I guess someone thought it was a good way to sell the plant in the South.


Stealth Planting

 

The Oenothera grandiflora Evening Primrose collected by William Bartram is one of my favorite plants to grow.  It is also a favorite of rabbits.

So I came up with a plan to do stealth planting, strategically putting the Primrose among plants rabbits don’t eat.  In the middle of the photo is one planted with Shrimp Plants.

In this photo a Primrose is planted with Salvia.  I bet you can’t even find it.

Rabbits never touch the Gulf Coast Penstemon and neither do I as they smell bad, but make up for that fact by being pretty.

The Primrose in the front yard are the tall plants that were surrounded by the Penstemon when they were small.  They look darn good.

Yup, I was feeling pretty clever thwarting those rabbits.  As it turns out, deer like the Primrose too and they start eating at the top.  The tall plants in the front yard were just about finished off by the deer (not the rabbits).

I guess I will have to count on the Evening Primrose I planted in pots, in a high planter, in the fenced in backyard.