Thursday, May 27, 2010

a Mantis and her Molt

I've got to get a better camera.  My canon powershot is a good all around camera but getting it to focus where I want it too is problematic.  I took a dozen pictures trying to capture this mantis nymph and her discarded skin below.  I cropped it so it shouldn't be too hard to find in the bottom slightly right of center part of the photo but I know I can get a clearer shot.  If I am still obsessed I'll try when it is a bit brighter out.  This molt hung from all 4 limbs off a mint leaf.  Of the handful I have seen this is the only one like this.  Others were on the dirt or hanging by 2 legs.

At any rate I got this clear photo of the mantis hanging out.  Perhaps she is getting used to me.
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Monday, May 24, 2010


I saw this and thought that this mantis was dying.  I was so wrong

After seeing another hanging just like that I relaize that this mantis is MOLTING.


I figured something out as a result of this... I think.
Little mantises with fat bodies are close to molting.  Once they molt their bodies are skinny.  At least that is what I have noticed.  When they are older it becomes gender specific.
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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Tiny Creatures

I think that people who walk by my house must think I am nutty.  I am always looking at the tiny creatures that inhabit my plants.  I've been keeping a rough count of the mantids.  There's about a dozen that I know of.  Here are 3 on a butterfly bush.  I see 2 looking at each other which makes me nervous.  They are very hungry and might eat each other.  I have moved some to prevent this.  One I gave to a neighbor, two I moved to the back.  Of the 2 in back I think one was eaten by a spider.
And speaking of spiders, here's a jumping spider on a sunflower.  I saw a mantis around here but I bet it has been eaten by one of these spiders.  Such is life.
Here is a lovely nymph that looks female to me.  She's graceful and she has a big butt.  The males have smaller butts.  I think that they are starting to look distinct, plus the females are a bit larger.  She is actually less than an inch long, 2 centimeters at the most.
Finally I have a wasp with orange legs.  I tried to get a better picture but my vision and camera limit me.  It looks like it might be laying an egg into an egg, possibly that of a cabbage moth.  Could it be a parasitic wasp?  There's so many species that a quick google search has not solved my mystery.  It is pretty small.
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Dividing Lemongrass

I keep a few things through the winter.  It doesn't mean I take great care of them.  Here is some lemongrass, sadly unwatered.  It is barely alive and yet it is alive.  Lemongrass is tough.
What to do?  First a haircut.
Then I cut it out of the pot.  Yes, the roots get dense plus it is sharing the pot with some he shou wu, a plant that annoys me.

Now I cut the stalks apart.  The soil is almsot bone dry which makes this easier.
I split it in 9.  Some stalks actually have 2.  This is in my earthbox, a selfwatering planter that might be idea for lemongrass which is happiest with lots of water, sun, and heat.  I have a feeling this will be a good year for it.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Anticipation for Hummingbirds

I love hummingbirds.  They love certain flowers such as Brazilian sage, pictured is a bud.  for some reason they do this serpentine dance before they actually bloom.  It seems to take forever, but once they do they are spectacular.  Hummingbirds adore this flower.

Next is some anise hyssop.  This is either 'acapulco' or 'tequila sunrise'.  I honestly can't remember.  It's buds are straightforward.  Last year this plant was not very productive but this year it seems to have found it's stride.  If the cats aren't too bad I should see some hummers buzzing around this soon.
Here is 'hotlips' sage, now in it's 3rd year.  I have to winter this inside which is annoying so I let this plant's sister die.  Maybe I shouldn't have as the birds are loving this, though they are shy.  I've only seen them early in the morning.  Again I fear my cats make them wary.
And finally a tall snapdragon.  I haven't seen any birds around this but maybe...
I'll keep you posted.
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Friday, May 14, 2010

Baby Mantii

Spring is the time of renewal.  And so today I saw about a dozen mantis nymphs.  These are the 2 best pictures I took.

Almost a fortnight ago Sally passed.  I miss her but life keeps going on.  It seems as though some lives could last longer but there's always life be it old or new.
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