Welcome to the July 2016 edition of Wildlife Wednesday. The United States marked its 240th birthday on Monday and today we mark the 2nd birthday of this wildlife gardening meme! I appreciate and thank all who’ve participated in Wildlife Wednesday. Each first Wednesday, I’m impressed and inspired by the fabulous photos and compelling anecdotes that avid wildlife gardeners share when they post for the meme. And for those who’ve tuned in each month to read–a big kiss on the cheek for your interest in and love for wildlife.
Kudos to you all!
Wildlife gardening is an activity that everyone can take part in. Especially in urban areas, planting for birds, pollinators, and other wild animals helps balance ongoing damage to natural zones and allows our world to heal–if just a little bit–by providing for those who can’t speak for themselves and with whom we share our world.
As July sees celebratory parades with accompanying banners and fireworks, I thought I’d host my own parade of critters that I’ve profiled during this past month. So, strike up the band and wave your gardening flags, here are July’s wild things!
I enjoyed this guy’s visit earlier in the month: Green Heron, Butorides virescens.
As June progressed and summer has settled in for the duration, damsels and dragons zoom around in the garden, landing here and there on pond and plants, adding their special charm to summer’s wild festivities.
This dreamy (ahem, unclear) shot is, I believe, an Eastern Ringtail, Erpetogomphus designatus.
Supposedly common in the Austin area, I’m not sure I’ve enjoyed the privilege of meeting this kind of dragonfly before. According to several sources, the males have a slightly larger “club” at the end of the abdomen, also orange-colored, but this one has neither quality. My guess is that she’s a she.
Giving firework colors a run for their money, Neon Skimmers, Libellula croceipennis, grace my garden regularly from June to November and are always welcome.
During National Pollinator Week, I profiled the Black Swallowtail, Papilio polyxenes, butterflies who make their nurseries in my garden, but who travel as adults throughout the neighborhood to nectar and mate. In my garden, there are several currently in metamorph stage, attached to stems and hidden from predators. I photographed this winged jewel on the morning of emergence.
Butterfly and moth chrysalises are so well camouflaged that it’s a gift to find them–lucky me this time!!
Butterflies are easy to appreciate because of their beauty and daytime winging and nectaring habits. But moths, common at dark and more subtly pattered and colored, also contribute to pollination and play an equally important role in a balanced ecosystem. Like many, my knowledge of moths is woefully inadequate. I can tell you that this is a moth, but haven’t found the exact identification.
It reminds me though of a rock climber, sans ropes, hanging on to the rock, before advancing upwards.
Spiders are back! I enjoy watching the Black-and-yellow Argiope spiders that are common in Austin gardens, including my own. I was frustrated that I couldn’t get a clear shot of the top, more decorative part of the spider, and then realized that I was quite fortunate to have a clear view of the usually hidden underside of this female argiope.
It looks like she’s snagged one of my darling honeybees for a meal. Well, I’m not so crazy about that part of a garden spider, but tolerance of hunting and acceptance of the fate of prey is part of wildlife gardening. Everyone must eat, which usually means that something was alive and no longer is.
I usually observe and photograph the green form of the Green anole lizard, Anolis carolinensis, like so:
But these cheeky ones also blush brown when necessary, as camouflage from predators.
And finally, there was this dude:
You want a piece of me?!
YOU WANT A PIECE OF ME?!
This Leaf-footed bug, Acanthocephala terminalis, practically dared me to catch a photo as it traveled the length of a Soft-leaf yucca leaf, toward this camera-wielding gardener.
I’m walkin’ here!
But in the end, I’m bigger, more technologically advanced (sort of…), and higher up on the food chain, so yeah, I was able to catch him/her in a plucky stance.
There are a wide variety of Coreidae, or Leaf-footed bugs, in this area and I enjoy seeing them in my garden. They do feed on plants, but I’ve never seen serious foliage damage from them, or at least, none that I’m aware of. I’m sure there are some leaves, less than pristine, which owe their damage to the bugs’ meal preferences, but it’s nothing that I lose sleep over. Keeping abreast of who inhabits and visits your garden will ensure that no serious “pest” damage occurs. Usually, a spritz of water, once or twice, is all that is needed to discourage less-than-welcome marauding insects. Pesticides, even “organic” pesticides are highly damaging to many garden creatures, and not only the ones targeted. A garden is alive and fulfilling its purpose when it nurtures a wide diversity of critters–insects, spiders, birds, mammals, and reptiles, and chemicals are anathema to a healthy, diverse wildlife community.
Did wildlife visit your garden this past month? Please post for July Wildlife Wednesday Share the rare or mundane, funny or fascinating, beneficial or harmful critters you encounter. When you comment on my post, please remember to leave a link to your Wildlife Wednesday post so readers can enjoy a variety of garden wildlife observations.