Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Flip Side

I play favorites - don't you?  As a sampling, I favor butterflies over flies, adults over larvae, flowers over foliage, and oaks over hackberries.  Taken even further, I typically have a favorite "side" of a butterfly.

Hackberry emperors aren't particularly flashy on either side, but the blue spots on the ventral view are really worth a second look.
In contrast, there's the Sleepy orange sulphur (Abaeis nicippe).  I've been trying like crazy to catch a good photo of my own to share with you of the dorsal view of the wings but so far no luck.  My decent images are all only of the ventral view.
These butterflies have erratic flight patterns and in my experience always fold their wings while feeding.  I tried to discern any particular predictability to their takeoffs, but nope.  Honestly, the way these butterflies travel reminds me of the way Charles Schultz used to draw Woodstock in flight - using a broken line traveling in loops and swoops.

So far this blurry image partly exiting the frame is the closest I've come.  Not even close.
I'm finding my preferences shifting in surprising ways the more time I spend looking.  Not all flies are created equal.  Some of them are striking no matter their lifestyle preferences.
Condylostylus (male).
Condylostylus (female).
Green bottle fly (Calliphoridae) on Possumhaw
Once I've gotten more than one good image of a species, I up the ante and look to find them in what I think of as "double occupancy" shots.
Carpenter bee and unknown snout nosed moth.
Really, even larvae have their moments.  Some of them are real eye catchers. If I want to see more of the moths and butterflies I'm so attracted to I'll have to continue to develop a heightened appreciation for their precursor forms.  It's getting easier.
Eight spotted forester moth caterpillar.
Gulf fritillary caterpillars feasting on maypop vine.
There seems to be at least one holdout in all this appreciating so far.  Try as I might, I still just get the willies whenever I see one of these, abandoned or not.

In the abstract at least, I do appreciate the symmetry and pattern in these paperwasp nests.  In reality?  I'll probably continue to eradicate these anywhere near the house I find them.  When it comes to loving all nature has to offer, I'll just have to consider myself a work in progress.


Debra said...

Gorgeous. I think my heart gave an extra pump seeing that first shot. Amazing. I am also a sucker for anything metallic coloured. We have about eleventy billion wasps nests. My husband claimed one stung him once as he was getting out of the car. I didn't know they had it in them because honestly I spend a lot of time out in the yard and have never been bothered even once. They will fly near me to see what I'm up to and then wander off, bored I presume.

We did have them removed one year because a guy working at the house complained he wouldn't do anything with them around. Well, that was the first year we had an aphid bloom in the trees. It was spectacular in its way. I woke up one morning and everything (and I truly do mean everything) was covered in a slick syrup. I'd never seen anything like it. It lasted until the last of the leaves fell.

I can see why wasps would make people nervous enough to remove them and if you are allergic there isn't much to discuss. For us, I just said to my husband to stop hitting wasps when he opens his car door. He is a good sport.

TexasDeb said...

Debra: Your husband is a good sport! I only remove wasp nests that are close to a door. I figure they can have all the rest of the house and yard and if that isn't enough for them they're too picky for these parts. And you're quite right - wasps - aphids - there's always a balance to maintain.

My kids figure I'm part crow (the bird, not the people) because anything shiny catches my eye and then my interest.

Debra said...

I think maybe we must have mud daubers instead which would explain why they don't bother us (with that one notable incident) I've been doing a search to learn more since reading your post =) If we had paper wasps I am sure I would have many scary tales considering the many many hours I have spent outside.

Tina said...

I've come to appreciate the beauty of some flies, for example your Condylostylus, both boy and girl. Funny that I've never been bothered by wasp nests or wasps, for that matter. Like Debra, I guess they're bored with me. I like the "double occupancy" on the bloom--nice shot. I like it when insects get along and share space and food--we could learn a thing or two.

TexasDeb said...

Debra: Ah...that might explain it. I too have mud daubers everywhere and we mutually ignore each other successfully. The paper wasps though - they tend to defend their nests and then do want to come inside. Our cats drive themselves (and us) nuts trying to bat them down and we worry about their being stung in the paw or around the mouth. (They don't seem worried at all...).

TexasDeb said...

Tina: Thank you! I get tickled when I see multiple insects on a bloom and I can't quite say why - I just know it almost always makes me smile (and stop to watch for a while).

Honestly I held that shot of the bottle fly for a while and hesitated to post it. I'm not sure how to explain that shyness except they do have an unsavory reputation. When confronted with some of my more shallow reactions I can be challenged to re-examine prejudice safely in the context of bugs. Gardening can be so mind opening!