My flowers that didn’t grow during the extreme heat and drought, the ones I watered, talked kindly too. The ones that survived the first earlier-than-normal cold snap and the return to normal temperatures. Well, they are frost bitten and now shrivaling. These include lantanas, salvias, a pineapple sage, and snap dragons.
During this Grandfather’s rose started dropping leaves. I watered it. It dropped more leaves. I worried and fretted all summer over this because Grandfather’s rose is a family heirloom. My great grandfather gave it my grandmother when my mother was born in 1929.
This is what the rose looks like now. It started growing leaves not to long ago and had a few flowers.
Obviously, the chill didn’t affect the flowers.
I also have a second-generation of grandfather’s rose. It grows on the north side of my garden area.
A garden spider, which I think is out late for them, has a web in it. Strong north winds from hurricaine Sandy practically destroyed the spider’s web. There’s so much of it missing that I couldn’t tell it was an orb-weaver’s web.
Very little web shows in this picture.
Those winds must have been a wild ride for the spider. I wondered if it stayed in the web, on a branch or on the ground during it all.
Obviously, the spider repaired the web somewhat overnight. The white mass is prey she has confined in silk.
The evening sun backlit this garden spider’s web.
This is the first summer in several years that a garden spider hasn’t built a web just outside my picture window. A predator might have gotten in the egg case during the winter.
I call them “garden spiders.” Technically, they go by the name black-and-yellow argiope. This one is a female. They have a body up to 1 1/8-inch long. The male’s body only reaches 3/8-inch.
Look at the size of her abdomen.
Her appearance changed two days later …
Compare the proportions of her abdomen before and after laying her eggs.
Next was finding her egg case. The ones in the past with webs near picture window had their egg case fastened to the end of the web and against the house.
It’s a jungle in my sedum patch, and so far I haven’t been able to find the egg case. I don’t want to disturb her. She’s in the near the upper middle part of the picture where the brown leaf is.
This picture was taken last year. She laid her eggs during the night, so I didn’t get to see how she made that “vessel.”
Wikipedia says the female lays her eggs on a sheet of silky material. She lays down another sheet of silk and then a sheet of protective brown silk. Next she uses her legs to form the silk into a ball with an up-turned neck. The egg sacs can be up to 1 inch in diameter and have up to 1,000 eggs.
Blue gray gnatcatcher feeding on tent caterpillars
Definition of naturalist: a person who specializes in natural history, especially in the study of plants and animals in their natural surroundings.
I learned something new about blue-gray gnatcatchers on our hike this morning at my rural property. Blue-gray gnatcatchers are small energetic birds — 4 1/2 inches long (tip beak to tip of tail). They’re blue-gray above, whitish below and have a white eye ring. Their tail is long and narrow, black with white on the sides, and whitish underneath. They cock their tail upward like a wren does. Their diet consists of insects and spiders.
Buffy and I were walking along the road when I heard a gnatcatcher close by, high in the trees. The first thing I saw when I looked up was a tent caterpillar web … and the gnatcatcher came to it for the caterpillars. It “buzzed” around, back and forth and it left as quickly as it came. I’ve watched them for years eating insects. This was the first time I witnessed one eating caterpillars.
Blue-gray gnatcatchers feed near tips of branches, constantly moving through the foliage. They continuously move their tail, which may flush insects. Their call’s a squeaky wheezy series of notes. The first one I heard this spring returned to our area the end of March, and they will stay until the middle of September. Their range covers from northern California, to southern great lakes region, to New Hampshire and southward. They winter along from southern California, across Gulf coast, to the Carolinas and southward.
The state did this prescribed burn of my barrens (similar to a prairie) on March 3. They burned the whole barrens, into the woods and down to the creek. The barrens soon started greening with a warm winter of confused seasons. It may look harsh but it will be a thing of beauty in no time. Grasses will be taller, flowers will bloom in profusion, unless there’s a drought.
The sprouting barrens really show cased the webs of funnel weaver spiders. Buffy and I walked on into the woods, down to the creek and up the hill. Walking toward the sun really highlighted all the webs. (I counted 36 webs when I had the picture enlarged on the computer back at home.)
Funnel weaver spiders are also called ”grass spiders.” They build their webs close to the ground and hide in the mough of the opening. The web’s not sticky. It causes a vibration when an insect, spider or other creature crosses the wide part of the web. The spider feels the vibrations and rushes out to grab its prey. The spiders have 8 legs and 2 body parts (cephalothorax and abdomen). They have pairs of eyes, hairy body and legs, and body length to about 1 inch.
Funnel weaver spider web