Archive for October, 2016

Strange Spider Web

This dead pear tree has quite a history.

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Now it houses a spider whose web is about 3 feet high in the tree.

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The silk is so fine the web would be hard to spot if it wasn’t for the “stuff” in it. The “stuff” looks like sawdust. Woodpeckers do visit the tree and “sawdust” would fall when there was activity above … or the spider added it when spinning the web.

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These three pictures of the web weren’t taken on the same day.

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It was an active place when the tree was alive and producing fruit. I have no idea what’s included in the “stuff” in the line … unless it’s somehow young spiders. (They are spider egg cases.)

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The pears would rot and drop when the tree was alive. The rotten fruit then attracted many, many butterflies and other insects  too.

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Red-spotted purple butterflies visited flowers.

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The viceroy resembles a monarch, only the monarch lacks the extra black band on the hindwing.

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Besides the rotten fruit, the hackberry butterflies will also visit animal droppings and carrion.

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A question mark butterfly joined the hackberries. If you look close, you’ll see a faint gold upside-down question mark in the middle of its hindwing.

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The buckeye butterflies have an eye spot on the top of the forewing and two spots of different sizes on their hindwing.

I plan to enjoy the pear tree until it’s all fallen down.

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A Miniature Redbird

Buffy accompanied me out in the backyard, to walk around and see what we could see.

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I must say I’ve never seen a red bird such as this one. It’s actually made of leaves, and is perched high in the pine tree in my backyard. I can’t imagine the chances of leaves “making a bird,” especially one with an eye, white eye ring, both beaks and a long tongue. Now I need a name for it. Obviously, it has to be a new species.

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  I couldn’t see the details in this picture from a distance, and I didn’t see them until I got the picture in the blog.

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 Now I need a name for it … because it must be a new species.

 

Mystery Solved

The more I researched this, the more confused I became.

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I found this web stretched in the crotch of a dead pear tree in our backyard. The day was cloudy. I had no idea what the “line” was in the center of the web.

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Then I found a smaller web in a clump of sedum. Obviously, it had the same mystery in the center of it too.

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This was an even closer shot of the center of the web. The silk was so thin it was hard to see.

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I didn’t see a spider in any of these webs until today. The bluish shape on the right, near the center of the picture moved. The spider changed its position in the web. It went out from the center and quickly back. I started taking pictures. It was almost impossible to get a focused picture with the small size of the web. My camera kept focusing on the background instead.

I found a position with the leaves behind and showing the spider. At least I solved the mystery of the spider’s location, and that the other shapes are the spider’s egg cases.

P.S. I have found many of these spider and egg cases scattered around the yard.

 

A Snout Butterfly

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A snout butterfly (Libytheana carinenta) flew into my butterfly garden and landed near me.

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It’s obvious it got its name from the long labial palps (mouth parts on either side of its proboscis).

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It looks like it’s been a while since the ragged butterfly emerged.

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They have a 1 3/8 to 2 inch wingspan and lay their eggs in hackberry trees (several grow in our yard.)

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 It flew away to I don’t know where.

In the Rock Pile

Rocks edged all my gardens until I reduced the number of gardens and made a pile with the rocks.

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Obviously, spiders like the rock pile. The spiders living among the rocks are wolf spiders (which have a painful bite.)

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I wish I could’ve seen the spider spin this web. It’s so graceful in its simplicity.

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Some spiders will wait for passing prey in or near the mouth of the burrow.

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Taking their picture poses a problem too … they usually stay down in their tunnel.

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They do tend to blend in with their surroundings.

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Their drab coloring makes them difficult to see. They depend on camouflage for protection.

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They are nocturnal. All the webs in my rock pile are taken down every morning  and rebuilt later in the day.

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I never did get a good look at this spider … so I was never sure if this was an abdomen or egg sac.

The female carries her eggs in an egg sac, which is attached to her spinnerets. The newly-hatched young climb up on her back and stay there until they’re big enough to be on their own. I haven’t seen one with an egg sac or with young.

Yum Yum

I wrote this blog earlier and didn’t get it posted. I’d rather post it now instead of waiting until next summer.

This is one of my favorite times of the year, when the fruit rots when I put it out for the butterflies. Some summers the butterfly numbers are low, and others they’re just the opposite.

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The one above is a question mark. You can tell by the small gold question mark on the underside of its hindwing.

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Tawny emperor (a ragged one)

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The red admiral butterfly has visited the rotting fruit. It didn’t pose for a picture, so I had to find one in my picture files.

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Red spotted purple

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Most are hackberry butterflies.

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Five tawny emperors, one viceroy (orange one that resembles a monarch butterfly), and a red spotted purple. There’s usually butterflies on the fruit for several hours, unless it’s raining.

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Their numbers continued to increase until now when only  10 – 15 visit a day

A Morning Surprise … a Big Surprise!

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   I recently started going for mornings walks around our backyard about 7 a.m. to look for spider webs.

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   Then Sunday morning (October 3) I woke to a dense fog. It didn’t take me long to get outside with my camera. I couldn’t see the back of the yard from the house. We have two acres.

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Obviously, there were the “common-shaped” webs. I found ones in all sizes, from the small  ones to ones from three feet in diameter.

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Some weren’t completely finished. This one looked like it came apart near the center.

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This web was in the magnolia tree. It looks like a tangled “mess” that would capture prey.

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How can this web hold its shape with all the multi-sized drops lining every strand?

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I wonder how long silk will remain from the web.

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I saw a few webs like this one up to three feet tall.

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This web is designed to capture insects that enter the separated area.

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I wondered if this web was completed or if it was what remained.

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The hackberry tree above appeared practically covered with webs, especially at the top.

These are only a few of the 240 pictures I took that morning!

What I don’t understand now is, “where did all the spiders go?” Where had all the spiders been before this web-a-thon?  I only found three webs the next morning and one this morning.