Monday, January 27, 2014

Pink Grasshopper

Hello again, My Darlings.  

Yesterday my friend, Terri, and I were enjoying a healthy walk.  Bored of our usual walking pattern,  we struck out across a nearby field.  Terri spotted this cool insect.  I had only my older model smart phone to use as a camera, but I was grateful for it.  We had no idea what we were looking at:   a  4 cm long,  four- legged,  pink critter.   If it were a grasshopper, then it would need two more legs! 

I posted the picture to “ID Request” on   The kind, smart folks at BugGuide would know what this was.  Sure enough,  I got an answer:  Chortophaga viridifasciata,  a Green-striped Grasshopper.  This one is a nymph, probably over-wintering in the dry grass.  Indeed, it is missing the two powerful back legs, and it’s an unusual color.   Green-striped Grasshoppers are usually green or brown.  This fellow demonstrates erythrism (“erythro-“ is a combining form that means “red”) with its remarkable, vibrant coloring.  Given its striking color and lack of hopping legs, I imagine this pink grasshopper will soon be a good meal for a hungry bird.
Erythrism in Chortophaga viridifasciata,  a Green-striped Grasshopper Nymph
Erythrism in Chortophaga viridifasciata,  a Green-striped Grasshopper Nymph

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Ragweed or Cosmos?

A row of ragweed sprouts next to one Cosmos seedling.

Cosmos seedling has a few lateral rootlets off the primary root.

Ragweed has long shallow root with rhizomes.

Ragweed on the left, Cosmos on the right.  Don't confuse the two!

Last summer I let a young plant grow in my flowerbed.   It looked to me like a Cosmos (C. sulphureus) seedling.   When I noticed it again, it was not a beautiful, glowing Cosmos, but a mature ragweed.  I pulled it up, of course, but too late.  This February, I had hundreds of little ragweed babies popping up in that flowerbed.  Arrgh!

To be sure I would never make the same mistake, I took these photos of a cosmos seeding next to the ragweed sprouts.  I might still confuse the foliage, but there is NO WAY that I will mistake what happens under the soil with the roots!  The Cosmos seedling has only a small set of lateral rootlets of the primary root.   The ragweed has a clever, extensive underground system of threadlike roots and rhizomes that supports multiple plants.   To get it under control, I dig up each bit of ragweed and collect as much of the root system as possible.  I declare that this flowerbed will eventually be ragweed free.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Green Tree Frog for Valentine's Day

Green Tree frog, Hyla cinerea, in Loropetalum shrub
Look before you clip!   That is my mantra.  I have cried in the past when my pruning sheers sliced through butterfly chrysalises so now I try to prune more carefully.  Today's unharmed critter is a gorgeous, sparking green tree frog, Hyla cinerea.  He was sleeping in the overgrown Loropetalum that I was trimming.   This green tree frog has a pink bouquet ready for Valentine's day!  "Froggie went a courtin', mmm-hmmm."

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Shedding Green Anole

This caught my eye - a weird, white animal basking on a Firecracker Plant, Russelia equisetiformis.  It's a Green Anole in the midst of shedding!  My shameless staring disturbed his repose.  When he retreated inside the thick foliage, the branches tugged on the sluffed skin.  Then the anole munched away, consuming his old attire.

Shedding Green Anole, Anolis carolinensis, on Russelia equisetiformis

Shedding Green Anole - notice the old skin on his toes.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Green Treefrog and Monarch Caterpillar

Green treefrog and Monarch larva on A. curassavica

A lovely young Green Treefrog, Hyla cinerea, was sleeping the day away on a milkweed stem.  While I was admiring the frog, a plump monarch caterpillar came crawling up the same milkweed stem, heading toward the delicious leaves above.  The caterpillar was momentarily thwarted by the roadblock.  No worries, eventually the hungry caterpillar crawled around the sleeping treefrog and was soon eating milkweed leaves.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Dragonfly Class at Armand Bayou Nature Center - Part Two

As I mentioned in the previous post, my left arm is in a sling following rotator cuff surgery.  I am slowly hunting and pecking on the keyboard.  I offer more pictures from Bob and Maggie Honig's September class for Master Naturalists at Armand Bayou Nature Center. Below there be dragons, a damsel, and a dragon-eater.
Roseate Skimmer, Orthemis ferruginea. His tail is the color of raspberry, his thorax is grape.
Roseate Skimmer, Orthemis ferruginea, male.
Eastern Pondhawk, male, Erythemis simplicicollis.  Powdery blue color with amber stigma.
Black and Yellow Garden Spider, Argiope aurantia, catches dragonflies inches above the water.  She has snared a female Pondhawk and at least one Blue Dasher.
Blue Dasher, Pachydiplax longipennis, perches above a brown and yellow damselfly.

Dragonfly Class at Armand Bayou Nature Center - Part One

One hand typing for now – I had surgery to repair my left rotator cuff and am in a sling.  But I have some critters to show you! 

In September, the Galveston Bay Area Chapter of Texas Master Naturalists held an advanced training class about dragonflies.  The fascinating class was taught by Bob Honig with assistance from Maggie Honig.  We were lucky to be at the Armand Bayou Nature Center which has ponds that are perfect habitat for dragons.

Catch and release:  Bob Honig with male Blue Dasher, Pachydiplax longipennis. See the "tiger striped" thorax?

Catch and release:  Maggie Honig with Hyacinth Glider, Miathyria marcella
Male Eastern Pondhawk, Erythemis simplicicollis.  He's a dusty, light blue.
Male Eastern Pondhawk, Erythemis simplicicollis
Female Eastern Pondhawk, Erythemis simplicicollis. Though far away, you can see she's green.
Eastern Pondhawks, Erythemis simplicicollis, mating in "wheel" position.