Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Gulf Frittilary and the Cycle of Life

Gulf Frittilary Butterfly on Lantana--the underwing markings shine like mother-of-pearl.
This summer brought more Gulf Frittilary butterflies than we've ever seen in our Texas Hill Country yard.  The conditions were right--a cool summer, 90's instead of 110, and our host-plant native passion vines were hardy from spring rains.

The vines have been ragged all summer as Gulf Frittilary caterpillars feasted.
 
The caterpillar's spiny projections may provide protection from being eaten by birds.

 
The caterpillars grow fast, moulting several times before achieving full growth.  Then they attach to a structure (preferably in a shady spot), curl upward into a J position, and harden into a pupa.  

Pupa in process of formation. 

Gulf Frittilary pupas look a bit like a cross between a dead leaf and a bird dropping--a good disguise from hungry birds.

In two weeks, the butterfly will emerge from the hardened shell and the cycle will spin again.

 Gulf Frittilary Butterfly on Pride of Barbados.
If you'd like to see Gulf Frittilaries in your yard, plant a native passionvine like the Maypop (Passiflora incarnata) and wait.  They'll find you.
 
Copyright 2009-2012 Kathleen Scott, for Hill Country Mysteries. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Things I learned from my yard

 Hope is the vision to plant a seed.

  
<--Standing Cypress (Ipomopsis rubra)from seeds strewn near the end of a horrible drought, before we knew it was the end.






Not everything that interrupts a plan is a weed.

Antelope Horns (Asclepius asperula), a native milkweed, host to Monarch butterflies.---->






Beauty that is nurtured grows.  

Fifty years ago, my mother's mother grew daylillies. Forty years ago my mother planted pass-alongs in her yard.  Many years later, descendents bloom in mine.

Copyright 2009-2012 Kathleen Scott, for Hill Country Mysteries. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Hummingbird Fall Migration 2012

When I walked out this morning carrying the hummingbird feeders, I was greeted by hovering chatter.  I hadn't missed dawn by long but the birds were ready.

Males and females, ruby-throated, black-chinned and a few rufous are journeying south and every one is hungry.

So I captured a minute of hummingbird magic to share with you.  It starts slow but picks up as the seconds tick by.  Click the arrow to enjoy a flying minute in your day.

Copyright 2009-2012 Kathleen Scott, for Hill Country Mysteries. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.