Monday, July 28, 2008

Miscellaneous Monday

I have quite a few pictures stored on my Compact Flash card and since I didn't have any other ideas for a post tonight, I decided to clean out the memory and share some of these pictures with you.

I'll start with a few photos from about a month ago--over at the little stormwater retention pond I've been visiting frequently this summer. I finally got a good picture of one of the little frogs before it leapt into the water (leopard frog? I think). This guy was really tiny but you can't tell it from this picture......

How about now? Same frog with an oak leaf for better size definition.

I also got this nice picture of an Eastern Comma Butterfly (summer form). This butterfly was loving the moist mud at the edge of the pond.It's hard to get pictures of them as they sit and continually flap their wings--I just keep snapping away and eventually I'm lucky enough to get the shot when its wings are open all the way.

One night last week while doing the dishes, I glanced out the window and there was the Cooper's Hawk--sitting right on the edge of the ground feeding tray (this is the same tray my night-time deer eat corn from). Occasionally I'll see the Cooper's Hawk swoop through the yard and sometimes even find little piles of feathers from a bird it has killed, but I was really delighted to see this one land and sit still long enough for me to snap some (less than ideal) pictures through the window screen. Judging by the color of the breast feathers and dark orange-appearing eye, I'm calling this bird an adult.

My, what big ears you have!!
We saw this little fawn last Saturday night in a hayfield in Fillmore County.

I've started saving water from the air conditioner that I've always previously let run down the drain. I get from 3-4 of these jugs every day and with 8 birdbaths around the yard, this really saves on running water from the tap, plus it's much easier to carry a couple of jugs than the big bucket of water I used to fill from the outside faucet.

When I got home from work this afternoon, I noticed something with black wings flying around in the Swallowtail Ranch jar. "Hmmm, that seems odd, those wings are too small for a swallowtail," I thought to myself.
Upon closer inspection, I realized it wasn't a butterfly at all, but a wasp! How disappointing. This is one of the parasitic wasps (Trogus species). When I found this swallowtail caterpillar and put it in the "ranch" it was almost completely full grown. Here's what my Kaufman Field Guide to insects says about these wasps: "All are internal parasites of caterpillars but emerge as adult wasps from the pupa of the host." Yuck!! The field guide even shows a picture of one of these wasps emerging from the pupa of a swallowtail butterfly. The other swallowtail caterpillar I found was much smaller (the green cocoon you can see in the picture). I hope that one didn't become a victim of one of these wasps too, but I'll find out for sure if (and when) the butterfly emerges from this green cocoon.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

What a disappointment, a wasp, no swallowtail butterfly. How do you get the wasp out of there? I hope you have better luck with the other one, I'll keep my fingers crossed for you.
MOM

Jayne said...

Well pooey Ruthie! How dare he hatch into the ranch.
Great idea about collecting the air conditioner water from the line!
Love all your misc photos, esp. the Coopers!

Julie said...

A Wasp! Yikes! Ick! Lovely pictures! You have 19 posts I have yet to read... I apologize for having gotten behind, but now that I am behind, I'm struggling to get caught up, it'll be a while.
Your air condition, is it a window unit or central air? I've heard that in Texas you can get up to 5 gallons a day from the air condition. We have central air and I wonder if we could save any water from it and if so, how.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Mom,
I'm keeping my fingers crossed too.

Thanks Jayne.

Hi Julie,
Don't worry about catching up, I understand.
The A/C is central air and the drain tube comes from down by the furnace. It works like the dehumidifier, so there's water coming out all the time as the A/C removes the humidity from the air. As far as I know, all air conditioners work this way, but it's just a matter of figuring out where the water drains from.

Marsha said...

I did not know that about wasps before! How disgusting is that?
I look forward to seeing what else you have on the memory card :-) Great photos and I love the size comparsion on the frog.

KGMom said...

8 bird baths? I am just mulling that. I have one--and that seems to always need cleaning and/or refilling. 8!

Debbie said...

Love all the random shots, Ruthie. Bummer about the wasp. I would be so disappointed and that whole process is pretty gross to me and I'm generally not too squeamish. Hope the other comes out fine.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Marsha,
Disgusting for sure! I had one chrysalis last year with a parasitic fly, but never experienced the wasp before. It's nice to continually learn about new things.....even if they're not all pleasant.

Hi Donna,
I'm not quite as faithful about cleaning the birdbaths as I am about filling them, but I figure if birds like to bathe and drink from mud puddles, my birdbaths can't be that bad! (I collected 3 gallons of water from yesterday afternoon to early this morning so all the birdbaths are full for another hot day ahead)

Thanks Debbie. I thought that wasp thing was pretty gross too--especially when I was looking forward to a swallowtail butterfly! :-(

scienceguy288 said...

We have a resident Cooper's hawk in our backyard. And we always seem to see telltale signs of lunching on part of it by our fence. Se la vie, so to say.

Priscilla said...

Yuck! a wasp, when you're expecting a swallowtail butterfly.

I like all your pictures and details, too. Keep up the good work!

RuthieJ said...

Hi Scienceguy,
I know what you mean....the hawk's gotta live too! (also keeps the mourning doves from over-populating my backyard!)

Hi Priscilla,
Thanks for stopping by my blog--hope you enjoy all the new pictures in tonight's post too :-)