The Case of Fly v. Worm

After work, it was warm but breezy outside, so I took Sergeant Margie over to the WPA Rock Garden for a walk.  I got a few photos, but was totally fascinated by a huge hornworm that was munching on one of the plants there.  For some reason, a fly was harassing the worm, buzzing around it and poking it, until the worm just got aggravated and tried body-slamming it and biting it to get it to go away.   I’d never seen anything like that.  I was able to get a short video of part of their interaction, along with some still shots of the worm.

CLICK HERE to see the video.

And here are some still shots:

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Katydid Nymph

I let the dogs out into the backyard, and found this gorgeous little katydid nymph on the ivy along the fence.  (Yep, I carry my camera all the time.)  I’m always amazed with how much detail Mother Nature puts into these tiniest of things.  From the forms to the colors… they’re little masterpieces.

 

 

Walking at the WPA

I wanted to get out for a walk today before it got too hot, so Sergeant Margie and I were out the door to the WPA Rock Garden by about 6:15 am.  I got a lot of flower photos, and some bee pix.  The bees seemed to be pollen-crazy today, and were rolling in the flowers and whizzing all over the place; I don’t remember ever seeing them so hyper. I took some video of some of them…

Then the dog and I walked over to the duck pond behind the garden and found that the fountains were shut off there… so the water was like a mirror.  I saw a large vulture sitting near the edge of the pond eating something, so I walked over to see what he’d found.  There were two large (dead) carps laying on the ground, and the vulture had ripped some pretty big holes in them.  I couldn’t imagine the vulture going into the water to get them, so I’m not sure how they ended up where they were.  The only thing I could think of was that someone had fished them out, and then ran off, leaving them behind when the cops showed up or something… We also saw a couple of crayfish, but they darted into the water before I could get photos of them.  Heading back to the car, we came across a crop of milkweed that was starting to get pods on it.  I’ll have to keep an eye on those, and see if they attract any Monarch butterflies.  (They lay their eggs on the pods, and the caterpillars dine on the pods as soon as they’re born.)  We walked for about 2 hours and then headed back home for some breakfast.

Mantis Babies!

In the patio area behind our office we had some praying mantis egg cases set  on the branches of some of the bushes.  We had been waiting for weeks for them to hatch, and today it got warm enough outside to wake the babies up.  We didn’t see them as they were hatching, but saw them right after they came out and were running all over the bushes.  When they hatch they drop out of the case attached to thin filaments that look like the  silky lines on parachutes, then detach themselves from the filaments to seek a sunny spot to warm up and get their exoskeletons hardened.  Our new hatchlings were all pale brown, and very teeny.  We noticed that some of them were jumping into spider webs on one of the bushes, so we pulled them out of there… but still one of the spiders was seen with a mantis-snack in its mouth.  We also saw one mantis-baby that had hatched, but then just didn’t make it: it was laying on top of the case, folded over like it was “sleeping” on its side.  We were saddened by the deaths, but still happy that we’d had a chance to see the babies when they were all so new.  We were worried that they’d hatch over the weekend and we’d miss them entirely.

Here are some photos:

September BBQ Slated, and Planning to overnight in the Sherlock Holmes Room

Tuleyome is having a summer BBQ for their members in September, and it’s going to be at Lake Berryessa.  I went online today to see if I could find a place close to there to overnight that weekend, and found a place called the Abbey House Inn in Winters, CA.  I’ll get there Friday in the late afternoon, overnight there, go to the picnic on Saturday and overnight at the inn again, and then head home on Sunday morning.  I made reservations today, and asked for the “Sherlock Holmes” room… which has it’s own bathroom and fireplace.  Should be fun.  I can’t wait to see the place.

Monday… Super Quiet Day

On Monday, Memorial Day, I went for a walk with Sergeant Margie at the American River Bend Park and was sort of expecting to see campers there and stuff — but it was deserted.  Just me, Sergeant Margie, a few joggers, bugs, turkeys and the occasional mule deer.  Nice! We walked for about 2-1/2 hours before heading back home.  I didn’t get a lot of photos on our walk, but the exercise was good.  The rest of the day was just super-quiet… overcast with a little angel-spit rain in the afternoon.

Travels of a Certified California Naturalist