THRILLED FINDING MY NEW GUEST!

Gardens and gardening is a never ending adventure for me.  Every time I go out to them, I find something wonderful and amazing.  Today is her day:

gardenspider-1

She is a common garden spider for out here.  The funny part is the first five years on our little piece of heaven; we did not see any of them?  Then, in the 6 year, they were everywhere.  We had a fun one that made a next on the old chicken shed.  The front of it was all chicken wire to let the sun in, and she found that to be a perfect spot for feeding.  We also have one of our well pumps right beside that spot.  Well, we would go to water the animals and turn on that pump, and she would spaz out. She was a massive predator!  The minute her web wiggled, even a tiny bit, she was all over it.  Most of the day she was very lazy and just hung out in the middle sunning herself.  But the first time I was trying to untangle the hose for the chicken water and splashed her web – I freaked out (my turn I guess, haha).  She came bolting across to where I hit her web, and I must have jumped back a foot at least!  They are not a small spider:

gardenspider-2

My fingers are right behind her in this shot, and she is not even full grown yet! Eeek!!  Her body alone gets about as big as a ping-pong ball, and those legs stretch out about three inches from that.  She actually has a pretty silver streaking going on, but I was at the wrong angle for the picture to properly show that.

Considering how aggressive she is toward bad bugs, how she doesn’t bother me if I don’t bother her, and I caught her eating a wasp – she is welcome to stay and call the greenhouse home!  Now I just need to remember that she is in there because this web is up as high as my head, and the place we turn on the swamp cooler pump is right behind her.  Would hate to not be paying attention and have her right on my face – double EEEK!!!  Happy gardening you all – and keep your heads up!
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CAN YOU SEE ME NOW – BOO?

Cool looking bugs have always fascinated me. What interests me most is how well they blend in. I can spot a Ladybug just about anywhere. Grasshoppers stick out also. But the praying mantis is just too cool!
I was doing some spot watering in the greenhouse today. We have plants in there that are now as tall or taller than me (I am 5’5” in case you are wondering). Well just cruising along the plots minding my own business then I happened to glance over my left shoulder. There he was. Hanging out – upside down – on the tarragon bush (Which, by the way, also gets HUGE! Cut it back three times so far this year, and it’s getting close to another butchering!).

male-mantis-1   male-mantis-2
I know the females (green ones) are in the greenhouse as we put most of them in there. But this was a he-male. First male I have seen in the greenhouse and that is this big…

I placed my hand behind him just to show how huge he is. My guess is about 3-1/2 to 4 inches long. I couldn’t help just staring at him. The details, the grace among the plant, the fact that they wipe out bad bugs – awesome!
We are getting into my favorite time of year – fall! This is when I really start looking at things in great detail. I was pulling weeds in the front patio and finally saw a velvet ant – not bad. They are the size of the red ants here, but shiny/fuzzy bodies. This one was bright red. However, I was asked once if the “cow killer” I found was actually a velvet ant. I can now firmly say – NO WAY, NOT ON YOUR LIFE! This velvet ant was really “ant” size – small, about ¼ inch long. The Cow Killer was the size of a large black beetle or a full-size bumble bee. It also moved really, really fast! Pretty sure I do not EVER want one of these to bite me – ouch! I would also prefer to not EVER see one again thank you – – – way too scary!

cow-killer-bug  (Cow Killer)
I am thinking that climate change has all the bugs off-whack too. Insects that we used to see in the heat of the summer, have just appeared in the last 3 weeks…yellow jackets, for example. There have been a couple here and there, but not like right now. Masses have accumulated at the south side of our home and in the greenhouse. We have to go in the greenhouse early or late in the day. We have set up some traps, but their numbers are greater than our little traps can handle. This is very odd indeed. Over the last several years we have gotten the occasional honeybee that was lost, confused and ended up inside. A wasp or two was no big deal. But this year is biblical plague size.

scary-wasp-face

 

 

 

 

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