Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Critters Galore II

Springtime days have brought on lots of critter activity in our backyard paradise.

Baby Screech Owl 2010
Mommy Screech Owl 2012

The Screech Owl came back for a brief visit. She was a show stopping, speckled, calico color. The reason she has her wings out like that is to cool herself off. She wasn't worried about us. This year however it doesn't look as though we'll have any babies to coo over. We did have this privilege a few years back though.

"I'll be out in a few hours or thereabouts."
A multitude of different birds have taken to cheeping, cawing, peeping and singing in the trees, along with taking turns in the bird bath. They actually wait in line for a cool afternoon dip! I have to fill the bath up twice since they splash all the water over the sides. And of course the toad loves to wallow in there too. Biggest toad I've ever seen he is.

Female Carpenter Bee on Dianthus

Meanwhile the large, black carpenter bees have returned to the garden and are on patrol around the Sky Vine. I saw maybe one bee circling the vine about a week ago, and now there are many, and they all think the Sky Vine is their personal territory. I have even been dive bombed when I go out into the garden, but it's all for show - they are not going to sting me. Some even hide in the foliage and come flying out to intercept an interloper encroaching on their space. We have a few dead pine trees in the yard and they probably nest in there.

Too Bee or Not To Bee?
This is a picture of a rather scary looking 'bee.' Or is it??? I was amazed it let me get up close to it. But guess what it's not a bee or even a wasp! I cruised around online for identification, and it appears to be a Syrphid Fly. It mimics a bee so as not to get eaten. How to tell?
 1) has 2 wings not 4 wings
 2) stubby antennae 
 3) Big, BIG eyes! 

Now you know. 
Syrphid Flies favorite meal? Aphids.
Click below link for great website!
How To Identify Beneficial Insects in Your Yard

Left pic is Milkweed bug. Just what I need .... another insect chomping on the Milkweed, dramatic female sigh...

Monarch Caterpillars
These are the only little gals/guys I want to see on the Milkweed! They were both attempting to eat the teeniest morsel left on the stem, and, at one point started nipping at each other. It was interesting to see that they flattened their antenna much in the same way a dog puts its ears back when being hostile.
So cute!

Eventually we have this to look forward to in our butterfly garden.

Monarch Chrysalis
Just hatched and Drying Wings
Oh, and the aphids. Don't we just love the return of these nuisance insects. In my garden, they start on the peppers and then swiftly move on to the Milkweed.
Aphids on Milkweed
But hold the soapy spray, help is on its way........

Bashful Ladybird
Welcome back the hungry, hungry ladybird. What took you so long?

But wait........ we need to make a mention of a super predator in my backyard paradise. I think it might be a male Blue Dasher. (Corrections are always welcomed and encouraged).

Male Blue Dasher
Juvenile Black Racer.
Want to know more about Dragonflies?
Click Here 

.....and while on the subject of predators. Here is a reminder why closed in shoes are necessary in the sub-tropical garden. 
A Black Racer. I moved a few pots around and it was curled up under there. 
Note to self: Put pot back quickly and back away.

That's my springtime tour of the garden and its various inhabitants.

Thanks for coming along with me!


  1. Oh, yes...some wonderful critters and some not quite as wonderful. They all make up the garden though. Love your owl boxes!

  2. What a wonderful journey through your backyard! Fascinating and I also learned so much!


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