There’s a trio of waist-high holly bushes on the property that never seem to fill out; never seem to outgrow the term “misshapen.” Over the years we began to realize that all the pruning in the world wouldn’t help them achieve any sort of suburban landscape symmetry. Why? Because the deer do all the trimming, browsing tender leaves and leaving discards all over the front porch. Earlier this month, we found the hollies supported another life — a tiny cup of tightly woven pine needles bearing three marble sized-eggs. Last night, we discovered the eggs had given way to tiny birds. Blind and almost featherless with their oversized yellow beaks straining upward for motherly fare.
The sound of insect love songs is filling the air in central and eastern Arkansas as Brood XXIII, one of the 13-year cycle of cicadas, emerges from the ground for its short, post-dirt life looking to make another brood that will emerge in 2028.
We came late to Cee’s “My Favorite Things” challenge, catching it in verse 2. While taking down the outside Christmas decoration a few weekends ago, we were delighted to see that the folds of a big velveteen bow had become home for one of our favorite insects: the ladybug. Twice a year, they appear by the dozens inside the house and outside, scores of them cover the warm sidewalks and walls. They are generally beneficial insects, chowing down on aphids, but have also been known to consume monarch larvae. Read more about the multicolored Asian lady beetle: http://www.uark.edu/ua/arthmuse/asian.html.
A not so itsy-bitsy-spider was climbing the walls of the house yesterday and later found exploring the front porch. Not yet sure what he is, but have a query in to the Arthropod Museum curator at the University of Arkansas. Toe-to-toe, this fellow was about the size of a quarter. He was also missing a leg, which made his climb harder. During one of his slow climbs, he fell off the wall, but got back up again.
Thanks to the entomologists at the U of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville, we have an ID for our mystery man:
“That is an adult male Myrmekiaphila, the only eastern genus of Euctenizidae, the ‘wafer-lid trapdoor spiders.’ The name ‘Myrmekiaphila’, meaning “ant-loving” refers to fact that early authors found burrows near ant nests … although there is no actual association with these spiders and ants. Males reach adulthood in the fall and early winter, when they leave their burrows and wander in search of females (which remain in their burrows). The strange modification of the first leg (metatarsus) seen in these photos is used to grip the females forelegs and push her backwards awkwardly, which prevents her from eating him during mating.”
The wooded area behind our office building has a surprising amount of wildlife. Raccoons, tortoises and red-tailed hawks are common. A few years ago a rather thin coyote came trotting through and some months ago, state game officials identified a bit of roadkill on US 67 Business as a bobcat.
A few weeks back, what at first appeared to be a bushy-tailed feral cat emerging from the trees turned out to be a fox. By the time I grabbed the camera, sprinted down the hall and out into the parking lot he was beyond the range of my lens. The fox was probably keen on the sweet fruit that has been falling from the persimmon tree all autumn.
Lioness exudes an effortless dignity as she watches the world beyond the moat.