Posts Tagged Chinese Praying Mantis

Photographic Miscellany

mushrooms in boulder bed

It’s been too long since I posted here. My apologies, but life has been unusually busy of late. I’ve got several posts planned, but today I want to share a few of the photos I’ve taken recently. I’ve learned not to walk out of my house during daylight hours without my camera in hand.

I discovered the mushrooms in the top shot growing in my boulder garden next to a milkweed. As the autumnal equinox nears, mushrooms of all colors and shapes begin to appear in my yard, especially after our all-too-rare rains. That’s when these popped up — after our last good rain.

Snowberry Clearwing caterpillar

Snowberry Clearwing caterpillar

Every year in about the middle of August, I notice that the leaves on my trellis full of native coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens ‘Major Wheeler’) begin to disappear. That’s when I start looking for this caterpillar, which practices excellent camouflage techniques. Its adult form is one of the clear-winged sphinx moths that you’ll see hovering over flowers like hummingbirds as they drink nectar. The caterpillars produce no lasting damage to my very healthy honeysuckle vine. In fact, they help prevent it from growing too large for its trellis.

House mantis

House mantis

This is the time of year praying mantises, especially the Chinese mantises like this one, become more apparent in the landscape. They have grown large devouring the insects that abound in my gardens, and now they’re on the move seeking mates. During last week’s cool spell, this one parked itself on the west-facing side of my house, where it could catch afternoon sun while snagging a few pollinators visiting my lantana.

mantis on the move

Mantis on the move

The house mantis didn’t appreciate being the subject of my photo session and relocated itself to a nearby pineapple sage plant. Here it is actively climbing the plant as it attempts to avoid my camera.

Appreciation of Autumn Daffodil's re-blooming efforts

Appreciation of Autumn Daffodil’s re-blooming efforts

I was delighted when my late-blooming stand of Daylily ‘Autumn Daffodil’ pushed out a few more scapes about a month after its main bloom period had ended, as was this carpenter bee.

Hurricane lily

Hurricane lily

Right on schedule, the hurricane lilies began blooming just before Wonder Spouse’s birthday. I love the way their bloom stalks seemingly pop out of nowhere.

A view from the top looking down.

A view from the top looking down.

 

Tradescantia 'Sweet Kate' cranking out late-season blooms

Tradescantia ‘Sweet Kate’ cranking out late-season blooms

Around my front water feature, my Sweet Kates are once again blooming enthusiastically. They always take a break during the heat of July and August, but return with more glorious purple flowers as  summer fades into autumn. The pollinators love the flowers as much as I do.

I’ll close this post with another purple beauty. This one is a true late summer-early fall bloomer — Aster ‘October Skies.’ Individual flowers are not gigantic, but the bushy plants are literally covered in blooms, so their visual impact is stunning. Their appearance always signals autumn’s imminent arrival.

Pollinators love this aster too.

Pollinators love this aster too.

Check out the heavily laden pollen baskets on this pollinator!

Check out the heavily laden pollen baskets on this pollinator!

That’s all the photos for today, folks. I promise a more information-rich post soon. Meanwhile, I suggest you enjoy our cooler days by going outside and appreciating all the beauty that abounds this time of year. That’s what I’ll be doing.

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Welcome, Autumn!

aster2

Summer left as sweetly as she arrived this year, bringing needed rain overnight. We woke to sunshine, deep blue, cloudless skies, and a steady breeze bringing in cool, dry, autumnal air. If only every summer could be as kind as this one was to us. Oh, she wasn’t perfect. Her excessive June rains put fungal diseases into overdrive. My tomatoes were blighted beyond redemption by late July.

But the peppers remain productive. My sweet Italian Bull’s Horn variety, Carmen, is overwhelming us with scarlet fruits.

Carmens remain productive.

Carmens remain productive.

And the one purple cayenne plant I added (free seed — who can resist?) is still producing zillions of fruits. They start out deep purple, then pale to lilac, then suddenly go deep, hot scarlet.

First, the cayennes are purple.

First, the cayennes are purple.

Then, they go hot!

Then, they go hot!

The vegetable garden is mostly flowers now. The nasturtiums went bonkers, thanks to Summer’s rains. They now own two full rows where the beans and tomatoes once grew.

Never have the nasturtiums displayed such prolonged enthusiasm.

Never have the nasturtiums displayed such prolonged enthusiasm.

And they’ll be popping up everywhere next year without any help from me. Their fat, curly seed pods are verging on ubiquitous.

Clearly, the nasturtiums have plans for next year.

Clearly, the nasturtiums have plans for next year.

Reproductive efforts were evident everywhere in my yard today, as I took my Farewell-to-Summer stroll around the yard this morning. Some plants are just now showing off ripe fruits.

Cornus florida berries won't last long; my pileated woodpeckers adore them.

Cornus florida berries won’t last long; my pileated woodpeckers adore them.

Beauty berry always lives up to her name about now.

Beautyberry always lives up to her name about now.

Viburnum prunifolium fruits go pink, then deep purple, but you don't see many purples, thanks to hungry birds.

Viburnum nudum fruits go pink, then deep purple, but you don’t see many purples, thanks to hungry birds.

Hearts-a-bursting is exploding with strawberry-like fruits.

Hearts-a-burstin’ is exploding with strawberry-like fruits.

Some plants only produced a few fruits this year. I think the rains actually inhibited pollination in a few instances. Case in point: my native spicebushes (Lindera benzoin). They produced few berries, and as soon as those ripened, they were devoured. I found one lone exception today, hiding deep inside the center of a plant whose leaves are just beginning to turn their characteristic autumn gold.

One lonely spicebush berry hidden deep within the shrub.

One lonely spicebush berry hidden deep within the shrub.

Most of my holly species are heavy with unripe berries, but one is already showing off. A deciduous species, Ilex verticillata, is loaded with crimson fruits. In another month, its leaves will drop, but the berries will likely linger well into late fall, even January some years. The fruits are usually a meal-of-last-resort for the feathered inhabitants of my yard.

Ilex verticillata berries ornament a still-green shrub.

Ilex verticillata berries ornament a still-green shrub.

Fruits of my deciduous Asian dogwood (Cornus kousa) are just turning red, looking quite like Christmas ornaments.

Cornus kousa fruits.

Cornus kousa fruits.

The wet summer was a boon to the legions of lichens that adorn the trees in my yard. Lichens are not only beautiful and essential to the transformation of dead plant material into soil. I’m told they also signal good air quality; lichens won’t grow in smog-filled skies.

An array of lichens adorning a fallen dead tree branch.

An array of lichens adorning a fallen dead tree branch.

Even if my calendar didn’t tell me that today was the Autumnal Equinox, I would have known it was imminent. My Seven-Son Flower Tree never fails to signal Summer’s departure as it transforms its clusters of sweet, white flowers into clusters of purple-red sepals that consistently fool hummingbirds into thinking nectar hides within their embrace.

Purple-red sepals signal Autumn's arrival.

Purple-red sepals signal Autumn’s arrival, even as a few white flower clusters persist.

Rain-softened ground today made weed-pulling almost enjoyable; cool breezes prevented early autumn sunshine from overheating me as I tackled yet another area of my yard overwhelmed by the invaders that Summer’s rains invited willy nilly everywhere in my yard.

Other inhabitants were not entirely happy with my Autumn clean-up activities. A large earth-colored American toad hopped frantically between my legs when I removed its weedy camouflage. Numerous ant colonies bustled about carrying pearl-colored eggs to safety when I disturbed their weed-covered homes. And an Asian Praying Mantis female glowered at me with unblinking emerald eyes from her perch atop a pink-flowering abelia.

Her work is nearly done, though. I spotted freshly laid mantis egg masses firmly attached to the branches of a nearby shrub. Perhaps she was cranky from all that egg-laying; perhaps the cooling breeze told her that her time was nearly over.

Autumn’s arrival signals many endings, it’s true. But abundant fruits, well-hidden egg masses, slumbering salamanders, toads, anoles, skinks, and myriad snakes ensure that Spring’s beginnings are just a winter’s sleep away. Now is the time to tidy up our yards, tuck in a few new shrubs and trees, and settle indoors for some well-earned rest. Now is the time to dream of coming snows and next spring’s gardens.

Happy Autumn, everyone!

Happy Autumn, everyone!

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