And at no time is that more apparent in Texas than in October. One day will be hot and dry, the next day cool and cloudy, periods of drought are often followed by torrential rains and all within the span of one brief month.
Thought of as the beginning of a "second Spring" in gardening circles, October is a turning point, a pivot between endless heat and the cooling to come. October provides easier growing conditions and last minute growth spurts along with pleasant working conditions for gardening chores. For wildlife, October is a time to eat, to reproduce, a time to migrate, or just to hunker down.
The visitors here in the hills just west and south of Austin last month were mostly of the winged variety, though a few walked in. Daily in October, unless it is pouring rain, wrens fuss-fuss-fuss, cardinals tick, jays shriek, and mockingbirds guard "their" berry sources. Everything seems to enjoy the final loosing of Summertime's hot dry grasp.
Berry eating locals were well represented by Northern Mockingbirds. Here one is shown making an afternoon feast off of Rivina humilis, or Pidgeonberry plant.
Other winged creatures were appreciated as they flittered, fluttered and fed. A rare sight here, this black and yellow lichen moth (Lycomorpha pholus), was nectaring on mint. And yes, black and yellow does seem to be a misnomer, but in the face of such an attractive creature, why waste time quibbling?
More common visitors appeared to keep us company while outdoor October chores were tackled. Skipper butterflies were most numerous, as has become usual for our spaces. In October we saw (and as with all Skipper identifications - these are only best guesses!) various Duskywing Skippers...
Gangly and apparently caught between coloration decisions, this Walking Stick (Phasmatodea) displayed the typical head bobbing designed to help it visually scan its surroundings for threats or snacks.
The most fascinating saga for October had to be the appearance of two Manduca Sexta or tobacco hornworm caterpillars, feeding on a large Datura plant right off the front porch.
That said, it was hard to imagine they could consume such a toxic plant without experiencing any of the hallucinogenic effects. Especially this one that took on the task of chowing down on a seed pod.
I'll take those reports on good faith. Any caterpillar able to consume two long branches' worth of Datura leaves and the occasional seedpod is best left to conduct its own business undisturbed.
Our use of native plants in combination with attempts to avoid chemicals and allow a natural balance between predators and prey to evolve here have rewarded us with both an ever increasing variety and number of wild visitors to enjoy. They are all quite pleasant company to keep as we work to ready the garden for whatever-comes-next. We garden for them, they work in the garden with us, it is all pretty much sweetness and light in this most pleasant of times.
Thanks as always to Tina of My Gardener Says for hosting the Wildlife Wednesday meme each month. Do take time to check out her always informative and entertaining chronicle of gardening with natives. While there, be sure to link to your own Wildlife Wednesday post in the comments section of her November Wildlife Wednesday offering to share with wildlife lovers world wide. We'll all be glad you did!