The snoozing tree anoles are back, and this ti…

The snoozing tree anoles are back, and this time they are smaller than ever.

(Every spring/summer, my yard becomes the nighttime refuge for green anoles who find the Perfect Branch to snooze on. They let me get super close to them and they’ll maybe open an eye to peep on me but they never move, the angels.)

June 21, 2018

nanonaturalist: After work today, I drove two…

nanonaturalist:

After work today, I drove two hours to rescue these three Snowberry Clearwing caterpillars.

Last week, I filled in as guest speaker for a garden club after their scheduled insect expert cancelled last-minute. Had a great time with them, and in exchange for filling in, I was gifted plentiful plants for my garden. But the best gift of all was the gift of friendship. And by friendship, I mean when people find caterpillars they ask me if I want them 😀

One of the garden club people works in a nursery, and she found these caterpillars on the honeysuckle. They couldn’t stay, because they were eating the merchandise, but they’re so fun she couldn’t bear to hurt them. Snowberry Clearwings are sphinx moths that are often mistaken for bumblebees and/or hummingbirds. I won’t usually take caterpillars I don’t find in my yard, because if I don’t have the host plant easily accessible, it’s hard to keep them fat and happy. But I have a honeysuckle bush! And I can’t say no to these cuties!!! The garden club is based in a town 60 miles from my work, so it was a bit of a trip, but worth it!

June 19, 2018

I came home and couldn’t find the big fat baby!!! Then I thought, “Hmmm…” Under the paper towel, working on a cocoon, and dreaming of pupation. So cute how so many moth caterpillars turn pink before they pupate!

The other two are still very precious. Behold:

Spider dance moves in the work kitchen June 2…

Spider dance moves in the work kitchen

June 21, 2018

Regular

shartgod420:

you guys know what’s super important?

bee butts

demonladytakkuri: nanonaturalist: Barn Owls …

demonladytakkuri:

nanonaturalist:

Barn Owls are THE BEST. They are in a separate family from all other North American owls, and instead of whoo hoooting they do the TV STATIC SCREAM FROM YOUR NIGHTMARES.

Gotta love the raptor presentations at the state parks! This was at Lockhart State Park tonight at our Master Naturalist meeting. These presenters rehabilitate injured birds of prey through Austin Wildlife Rescue (austinwildliferescue.org), an organization that always NEEDS VOLUNTEERS to help out with the adorable baby animals. If you’re in Central Texas, check them out!

June 18, 2018

The barn owls are members of the family “tytonidae” while every other owl species is a member of the “strigadae” family.

While we typically think of owls like the one in the original post as being barn owls, every species in the family can technically be considered a barn owl.

This includes the various species of masked owls which are relatively similar to your common barn owl

As well as both varieties of sooty owl which are strikingly different than the common barn owl

There are also the grass owls which are behaviorally different than other barn owls in their habits of living on the ground rather than trees

And the two odd tytos out, the red owl and ashy faced owl respectively. Scientists know almost nothing about the former and no individuals have been kept in captivity despite being discovered quite some time ago. Even photographs of it are rare, but it appears to be an orange barn owl with a pink face.

Structurally speaking, barn owls actually have very few traits in common with strigadae owls as their face and beak shapes and proportions are entirely different. There are also differences in their legs and talons, while their similarities are limited to feather composition, ear placement, spinal structure, and binocular vision among a few other internal components.

That being said, barn owls are far from the only family of non-hooting owls as hooting is almost exclusive to larger species, typically genus Strix or bubo. Many other species will trill, screech, and/or hiss.

Barn owls are rather unique in having an incredibly keen sense of hearing, even in comparison to other owls. They can hear and discern between different heartbeats and triangulate the sound perfectly due to their satellite dish-like face shape.

In addition, this barn owl is not actually Tyto alba, it’s a Tyto furcuta, T. alba is the species native to Western Europe while T. furcuta is native to North America.

Many thanks for this owlditional quality content. I give three screams of approval 👍

nanonaturalist: After work today, I drove two …

nanonaturalist:

After work today, I drove two hours to rescue these three Snowberry Clearwing caterpillars.

Last week, I filled in as guest speaker for a garden club after their scheduled insect expert cancelled last-minute. Had a great time with them, and in exchange for filling in, I was gifted plentiful plants for my garden. But the best gift of all was the gift of friendship. And by friendship, I mean when people find caterpillars they ask me if I want them 😀

One of the garden club people works in a nursery, and she found these caterpillars on the honeysuckle. They couldn’t stay, because they were eating the merchandise, but they’re so fun she couldn’t bear to hurt them. Snowberry Clearwings are sphinx moths that are often mistaken for bumblebees and/or hummingbirds. I won’t usually take caterpillars I don’t find in my yard, because if I don’t have the host plant easily accessible, it’s hard to keep them fat and happy. But I have a honeysuckle bush! And I can’t say no to these cuties!!! The garden club is based in a town 60 miles from my work, so it was a bit of a trip, but worth it!

June 19, 2018

Parasitoids* are a frequent tragedy when you r…

Parasitoids* are a frequent tragedy when you raise caterpillars. A perfectly normal looking caterpillar (like this Carolina Sphinx/Tobacco Hornworm caterpillar) can actually be full of eggs/larvae of parasitic flies and wasps. 

I was given this Tobacco Hornworm as a gift, and by the time I got my hands on him he was prepupal and ready to dig a hole, make a subterranean dirt cocoon, and pupate. This was my first time with a sphinx moth caterpillar, and I gave him some dirt (rather than paper towels), because I didn’t know any better and wanted to replicate his natural environment. After a while, I wanted to find the pupa so I could keep a closer eye on it and watch the moth come out… but when I dug in the dirt, I could not find anything. Oh well.

Then one day, I started noticing these flies in the container. How did they get in there?! So I went outside with the container, let the fly out, went back inside. The container kept filling with flies. I saw them crawl out of the dirt, with their wings all shriveled (just like butterflies and moths, flies come out of their pupa with wings that need to be inflated!). Then I realized they were parasitoids–these are Tachinid flies, which commonly parasitize caterpillars. The eggs/larvae will hang out in the caterpillar until it pupates, and then they go to town, eat the baby from the inside out, and then they pupate inside the moth pupa, and emerge as adults. I was sad to not have a beautiful moth, but relationships between caterpillars and moth eggs and their parasitoids are under-documented, so it’s always interesting to see what happens.

*Parasitoids are organisms which live off another organism, and ultimately cause the death of the host in the course of their development. Parasites, in contrast, rely on the continued life of the host for their development. One example of a parasite is the botfly, which lives in the skin tissue of their hosts as a larva, then emerge to pupate outside of the host. If the host dies, the parasite dies. 

Photos from June & July 2017 / Posted June 20, 2018

After work today, I drove two hours to rescue …

After work today, I drove two hours to rescue these three Snowberry Clearwing caterpillars.

Last week, I filled in as guest speaker for a garden club after their scheduled insect expert cancelled last-minute. Had a great time with them, and in exchange for filling in, I was gifted plentiful plants for my garden. But the best gift of all was the gift of friendship. And by friendship, I mean when people find caterpillars they ask me if I want them 😀

One of the garden club people works in a nursery, and she found these caterpillars on the honeysuckle. They couldn’t stay, because they were eating the merchandise, but they’re so fun she couldn’t bear to hurt them. Snowberry Clearwings are sphinx moths that are often mistaken for bumblebees and/or hummingbirds. I won’t usually take caterpillars I don’t find in my yard, because if I don’t have the host plant easily accessible, it’s hard to keep them fat and happy. But I have a honeysuckle bush! And I can’t say no to these cuties!!! The garden club is based in a town 60 miles from my work, so it was a bit of a trip, but worth it!

June 19, 2018

bee-safari: There is an awful lot happening in…

bee-safari:

There is an awful lot happening in this photo. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~#bombusflavifrons #nepeta #catnipflowers #pollinators

Barn Owls are THE BEST. They are in a separate…

Barn Owls are THE BEST. They are in a separate family from all other North American owls, and instead of whoo hoooting they do the TV STATIC SCREAM FROM YOUR NIGHTMARES.

Gotta love the raptor presentations at the state parks! This was at Lockhart State Park tonight at our Master Naturalist meeting. These presenters rehabilitate injured birds of prey through Austin Wildlife Rescue (austinwildliferescue.org), an organization that always NEEDS VOLUNTEERS to help out with the adorable baby animals. If you’re in Central Texas, check them out!

June 18, 2018