There and Back Again: CO 2010, Part II

Continuing on our Colorado journey, we headed along the Million Dollar Highway, a scenic 70-mile drive through Colorado’s rugged San Juan Mountains. The highway connects Durango to Silverton and on to Ouray. It is known for its spectacular views, but it is also a treacherous route — tight switchbacks, stomach-turning vertical drop-offs, mountain passes rising to more than 11,000 feet with similar descents — with potential for sudden rockslides and elk leaping across the road. It lacks guard rails most of the way. I wouldn’t want to drive a fuel tank along this route, that’s for sure. But I can understand why gas costs increase as you travel north. It’s an absolutely breath-taking route, but cautious driving is required. And don’t do what I saw one old pick-up driver doing at an overlook — he was drinking beer.

The drive takes you along the historic route that once connected mining towns of old. Around Silverton and along Red Mountain Pass, one can see the remains of mines, old buildings, railroad tracks, and more.

The Red Mountains are suitably named. 


And on distant mountains, a bit of snow remains in the high altitude.

There is a ghost town of sorts in the Red Mountain area, with an informative overlook to tell the tale.


We passed through some incredible mountain passageways, glimpsing waterfalls and river scenes along the way. The town of Ouray seems to be a fun place to visit — it was quite crowded — but we opted to continue on.

At Montrose, we headed east to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Wow. With narrow canyons and sheer walls dropping a huge distance to the river below, the views are dramatic and a little unsettling. We’d never seen any place like it. If you are in Colorado, it is so worth the drive. Pictures cannot do it justice. I know — I checked out all the postcards and books on the Black Canyon and not a one could capture the wonder and startling depth of the place. You must visit it.  

It might not look like it in these pictures, but it’s a realllllly long way down to the river. We were standing 2,000 feet up.

The descent to the river below is quite steep — 16% — with extremely narrow turns.

COblackcanya07-10.jpgAnd along the rim, one walks along shrubs and shrubs of Mountain-Mahogany (Cercocarpus montanus), with all its feathery plumes. I call this photo “The Running Man” — though really, it looks like two people.

We headed past Blue Mesa Lake to Lake City. The small town’s most famous tale is that of Alferd (Alfred) Packer, the man accused of cannibalizing his companions during a long harsh winter in the 1800s. We enjoyed a walk through the small historic town — and ice cream floats from the town’s famous soda shop. The bees buzzed happily from flower to flower along the sidewalks.

COflowers07-10.jpgFrom Lake City we headed south along 149 to Slumgullion Pass. The route takes you on a 9% grade to the peak with some very tight turns. Pretty, but scary. The last time I was on this pass, it was raining. That’s scarier. 

We camped this time at Bristol Head, a small campground just down a dirt road from Clear Creek Falls. The falls are some of the most photographed falls in Colorado — and rock climbers enjoy the challenge of the short cliff faces.


The area is popular for flyfishing, and the old mining town of Creede is nearby and a nice place to visit. My sons like to visit the mining museum — not to see anything related to mining, mind you. It is one of the few places you can buy food to feed the chipmunks and ground squirrels.

The hummingbirds are quite numerous at Bristol Head. My parents put out feeders on their camper, and I enjoyed the birds’ antics for hours and hours. Sometimes, particularly at dusk, more than a dozen hummers would fight for the feeders at one time.


For those of us in Texas and farther east, this cutie bears a resemblance to our Ruby-Throated hummer, but it is actually a Broad-Tailed Hummingbird, lacking the black band along the top of the ruby color.

Many of the hummingbirds squabbled with one another, not content taking turns… pretty much ever.

The Rufous Hummingbirds were quite brassy, both in appearance and personality.

They weren’t shy about poking other birds in the head to get them to move.

I’m not sure what kind of bird this is. This year I bought a book on Colorado wildflowers — next time I really need to get one on Colorado birds (and another on butterflies). EDIT: Thanks, Mary, for letting me know that this bird is probably a Camp Robber. It’s also known as a Gray Jay, and Colorado is on the southern end of its range).

After a couple of nights, we took down the tent again and packed the car. We said goodbye to my folks and then headed south past Creede and along Wolf Creek Pass. We made a short stop at Treasure Falls, taking a quick hike to a lovely view.

There we also saw a very lovely black and white butterfly, a Weidemeyer’s Admiral. It was doing the puddling thing outside the men’s restroom. Gross (and kind of an embarrassing spot to take a picture). But a pretty butterfly.

From the falls, we drove the short distance to Durango and then to Mesa Verde, where the Anasazi built their amazing cliff dwellings many hundreds of years ago. Below is Spruce Tree House.

The boys and I had visited Mesa Verde a couple of years ago. This year we added to our visit a drive along the rim, and we saw views of even more cliff dwellings. You can see Cliff Palace, the largest site, in the background below.

“Square Tower House”

An eagle nest above Square Tower House — a perfect spot for it, I’d say.

“Oak Tree House”

“Sunset House”

“Mummy House”


Mesa Verde is just 5-6 hours from Grand Canyon. That’s practically nothing in Texas time — so we left the cliff dwellings and headed farther west into Arizona. Part III of our trip next!

There and Back Again: TX, NM, CO 2010

We like to take road trips. We leave behind TVs, computers, video games, and the like, taking only with us as entertainment audiobooks (this trip we listened to the Fablehaven series), journals, puzzle books, and select books to read. And, of course, I bring along my camera.

Our summer vacation for 2010 consisted of a trip to southwest Colorado, camping in the Durango/San Juan Mountains area, circling up to Black Canyon of the Gunnison and Lake City, traveling farther west to the Grand Canyon in Arizona, and eventually heading home, with lots of mini-detours along the way. One of our dogs joined us for the trip (the other two had their own vacation at a doggy play camp), making for an interesting twist to the planning of vacation activities.

COgrover07-10.jpgWell, we had a fine trip. We ventured west from Austin through San Angelo (dog-friendly fort there) and headed to Roswell, New Mexico, home of the mysterious 1947 crash that became known as the UFO Incident. Although we didn’t bother with the museum in Roswell, we had great fun seeking the various aliens around town.

roswellcoke07-10.jpgSure, most of them (ok, all) are placed there by businesses hoping to get a boost from tourists, but even the city got involved with their unique streetlamps. Totally kitschy and cheesy.

roswellcar7-10.jpgIn Albuquerque we stopped at the Petroglyph National Monument, venturing briefly up the short Piedras Marcadas trail. We couldn’t spend much time there — the sand was too hot for Grover’s paws, so only two of us zipped up the trail to find a couple of petroglyphs, snap pictures, and leave. Alas. We’ll go back another time.


But we were greeted by the wildlife just the same.


This black-tailed rabbit kept playing peek-a-boo with us. Long ears and long legs and long feet — it has a black stripe down the back of its tail for easy ID, but of course you can’t see it in the side view.


In Colorado we camped with my parents near Durango for the first few days. The weather was perfect, and the ever-gorgeous scenery of Colorado made us both wistful and content. The boys enjoyed fishing with their grandpa at a small lake in the San Juan Mountains. In fact, we spent quite a bit of time at Haviland Lake, hiking and swimming there as well.

COhaviland07-10.jpgI enjoyed taking a few pictures, but I never managed to capture a picture of the raptors swooping down to catch fish in the water. They did so at dusk, not being considerate enough to fly when I returned in better light. Considering the fishing skill involved, I wondered whether they were osprey, but it’s possible they were eagles. We also spotted a beaver swimming lazily in the water…at…dusk…too. My youngest caught his first fish completely in the dark with me already heading back up to the car. What is up with that?!! Well, at least the setting entertained me in the light.

Hmmm, might this be wild chamomile? Whatever it is, it was present in most places we visited in Colorado. (EDIT: Katina suggests it might be Shasta Daisy, a non-native annual that’s been spreading across the state. Thanks, Katina. I wish it were easier to tell them apart from photos I’ve seen online.)

COchamomile7-10.jpgColorado has the biggest dandelion-like seedheads I’ve ever seen. Inches across, they are. (EDIT: Mary tells me this plant is Salsify, of the genus Tragopogon. Once again I’ve photographed a picture of a non-native plant. But those seedheads get to be 4-inches across! It’s in the same family as dandelions, but a completely different genus. So distant cousins from across the world…)

The lovely white flower below, if I’ve labelled it correctly, is not one to consider loving too closely. Its name is Death Camas. Guess why. Yep, all parts highly poisonous. One of those “I wish I’d known it at the time” moments for me, yes, but this is why we don’t eat plants we don’t know! According to what I read, however, occasionally a pioneer mistook the bulbs as those of wild onions, to tragic effect.


Canada geese, a common sight at lakes in Colorado…

White geranium. There’s a pink variety, too.

There are numerous purple thistles around the area. The one below is, I believe, a musk thistle. Pretty, yes, but musk thistles are on the Invasives list for Colorado– native to Europe, they spread quickly and are not palatable to livestock. At first I admired them, until I realized that I shouldn’t. And then I realized they were everywhere. 


The ever adorable ground squirrel — a common sight all over Colorado. In many places, this little cutie (and its cousins) is considered a pest, too — and a harborer of fleas and disease. But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s cute! We saw many chipmunks, too.


Okay, this fooled me. We stayed clear of these leaves of three and red stems, thinking it was poison ivy, but upon closer look (via photos) those notches make me think it might be box elder. In any case, better to be safe than sorry! 

This Horsetail variety did make me feel at home (Horsetail being one of my favorite Texas water plants) — we found it along a stream in the San Juan Mountains, standing out among the ferns.


Aspen daisies, perhaps? Also known as Showy Daisies.


The Colorado Wild Rose — reminds me a little of our Rose Pavonia back in Texas…

COwildrose07-10.jpgThe Durango area has much to offer visitors. Excellent camping and hiking, a historic district in town, tubing and whitewater rafting, fishing areas, and area lakes, an old train that takes people up to the old mining town of Silverton (if you are willing to pay the outrageous costs –we drove there one afternoon instead), and it’s just a short drive away from some of the most amazing cliff dwellings in America.

COsquirrelb07-10.jpgBecause we had our dog with us, we couldn’t go whitewater rafting, but the boys and I did drive out to Vallecito Lake to enjoy some canoeing. A very pretty lake, blue from afar, but actually somewhat red in color due to the red soil along the banks around it.

COvallecito07-10.jpgAfter a week in the Durango area, we broke camp and then headed to the airport to pick up my husband, who flew in to join us for the second half of our Wild West adventure. Stay tuned for Part II…

Full Circle

 We are home again from our vacation, and I’m still processing the photos of our trip and trying to get back into the normal swing of things. It took me a few days to want to venture into my garden — I admit to being afraid of what I might find. But this morning, a view of birds on my ever-amazing sunflower plants drew me into the backyard. And what I found there was that I had left behind a garden and come home to a jungle. In two weeks, my garden grew two feet or more in height, and the majority of plants seem to be taller than me. I guess I should assume that just maybe perhaps it rained a wee little bit in my absence?

As an example, take a look at the Exotic Love Vine that has become my own little Cousin Itt. There’s a lovely trellis hidden deep within that overgrown vine. 

exoticlovevine07-28-10.jpgI’m going to have to give up on the tomatoes. They are just a big mess, and I don’t think I’m going to have the time to salvage what’s left, despite the fact that there’s still a lot of healthy greenery there. Best to just work on cleaning everything up. I was too wary to check out the other veggies — the tomatoes were bad enough.

But the real story to share is that of the sunflowers, officially full circle. When I planted my Cinnamon Sun Sunflowers, I really had no clue what to expect. But they prospered from the get-go, those that germinated, and we had great fun watching them soar to gigantic proportions, and then the blooms just blew us away in sheer wow power. But that excitement was short-lived, because immediately Bordered Patch butterflies chose to lay hundreds of eggs on the plants, which meant that in short term hundreds of Bordered Patch caterpillars decimated my plants.

Just before I left on vacation, the caterpillars disappeared, and I could only assume that either they’d continue nature’s cycle as chrysalises or as food for other wildlife.

Now that I’ve returned, I am happy to report seeing Bordered Patch butterflies fluttering about — not tons, mind you, so it’s indeed probable that some of the caterpillars became bird munchies.

borderedpatch07-28-10.jpgThe fiery red blooms of the CinnSuns are gone, but the remaining seedheads are attracting hungry winged granivores, who perch on the stems and happily devour seeds one by one. Even my ever pesky doves with their big chubby bodies land on the sunflower stems (which go dwoooooooooop), trying hard to stay balanced while grabbing a seed or two. But the cheery go-get-em birds are the finches, completely at ease on the wobbly stems, thanks to their lighter weight.


sunflowerseedhead07-28-10.jpgfinchonsunflower07-28-10.jpgThe spent plants have another use now, too. The passionflower vine has reached out to the tall stems to gain further support for its beautiful blooms and thus additional dining areas for future Fritillary caterpillars.

passionvine07-28-10.jpgAnd just as I started to walk back inside, I saw that there’s a new batch of caterpillars on one of the remaining sunflower leaves. I’m not sure how well these guys are going to do — their parents, aunts, uncles, and “first cousins once removed” pretty much finished off the last leaves.

bordpatchcats07-28-10.jpgThe sunflower experiment has been a complete success, and they’ll be on my list of must-have plantings every year. I’m going for numbers next time!

As to the jungle, I’ve got major weeding in my future, and I guess I’ll have some pruning, too. A ton of e-mails to sort through, laundry to do, pictures to process, projects to finish up… the list goes on, but I’ll stop now, lest I overwhelm myself further! 

Greetings from the Beautiful Lands

Greetings from the Grand Canyon, by way of Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado. I am overwhelmed by the beauty of these states and the majesty of their natural landmarks.

grcanya07-21-10.jpgIt’s been a fantastic vacation so far, and we have more to see as we begin our trip home. See you soon!

Bird Brains

I wouldn’t have thought it, but doves are smart.

dovesa07-11-10.jpgThey have been determined to find a way past the cage we put around the birdfeeder –pretty much since the very moment it was first up there.

The cage is there because the doves had flocked to the feeder between 20-30 at a time, all grabbing as much as possible from the feeder before the next birds shoved them off. We just couldn’t afford to fill the feeder twice a day, which is what was starting to happen. And the little songbirds couldn’t get through without a pause in the dove line-up.

The cage worked beautiful, and the doves struggled to find a way in. They had trouble landing, and they weren’t keen on putting their large bodies through the cage “windows.” Instead, they had to accept the food we sprinkled on the ground for them. And suddenly we weren’t having to fill the feeder more than once in 3 days. Heaven.

dovesd07-11-10.jpgBut the drive for the treasure of seed inside the cage kept those persistent doves trying. They’d observe the other birds patiently. And finally some figured out how to land just right to get their body through an opening. They could either hold onto the cage precariously, stretching their neck through to grab some seed…

dovesf07-11-10.jpg or if they landed just right, they could hop through the window and walk on the tray below.

dovesc07-11-10.jpgWell, now they are used to it and we are back to two doves at a time sometimes on the feeder. Still better than the 20ish that would fight over the feeder — at least the cage prevents that!

The thistle feeder is getting plenty of use now. Lesser goldfinches must be living nearby, because several of them visit regularly now.

lessergoldfinchesb07-11-10.jpgAnd of course, our lovely resident house finches enjoy the thistle, though they go for the big feeder whenever it’s available.

housefinches07-11-10.jpgWhich it mostly is, except when these bird brains show up — squirrels.

squirrelf07-11-10.jpgBut the squirrels don’t eat a lot, so we mostly enjoy watching their agility and cleverness.

squirrele07-11-10.jpgsquirreld07-11-10.jpgSometimes birds will share the space with the squirrel… usually on the opposite side of the feeder. The squirrel never seems to care.

squirrelg07-11-10.jpgAnd the cage has really been amazing — it’s a constant show of songbirds now, all sharing the feeder and taking turns. Chickadees, Cardinals, Finches, Titmice, and more. They all gather up.


birdsd07-11-10.jpgClever birdies.

So I guess if someone calls you a bird brain, you should consider it a compliment — because these birds are smart!


Taking It To the Next Level

Woot, we officially received our certificates in the mail for Best of Texas Backyard Habitat and Texas Wildscapes Backyard Wildlife Habitat. Both of these certifications take wildlife habitats to a higher level beyond the simpler NWF certification, requiring a large percentage of native plants, year-round food and water sources, and dedication to sustainable gardening and control of invasives.


 It had been on my list to complete the applications for some time. Feels so good to make it official!

And Then There Was One

So all those zillions of Bordered Patch caterpillars of mine suddenly up and disappeared. Gone, gone, gone. Just a total mystery.

I searched and searched for either caterpillar or chrysalis. After some time, I finally found this lone caterpillar on one of my pitiful remaining sunflowers, one pretty much decimated by all the other the now-absent munchers. I’m rooting for this little caterpillar to make it all the way through.

borderedpatch07-10-10.jpgI did find some chrysalises around, but they seemed too tiny to be the Bordered Patch caterpillars. I have no idea how far these guys roam to find their perfect chrysalis spot, but I’m hoping that’s what happened. Otherwise, I’m casting a suspicious eye at the mockingbirds. But could they have eaten that many, leaving not a trace? Perhaps the heavy rain a couple of days ago had something to do with the caterpillars’ disappearance? Who knows. I will just be hopeful that they are resting in a nice safe spot, doing their magic to become butterflies.

Besides our lone ranger, there’s another “one.” A beautiful yellow sunflower blooms off its rather raggedy stem and leaves. It sure toughed it out after all those caterpillars tried to steal its greenery.

sunflowerb07-10-10.jpgI found a Gulf Fritillary, brand new and still drying its wings, under a few Passionflower leaves. It’s the first Fritillary I’ve gotten to see emerge. Passionvines are so rewarding.


This flower looks like it’s sticking its tongue out at someone. But that’s no tongue on that Mexican sage… it’s a Southern Crimson Moth.

crimsonpatcha07-10-10.jpgThis next photo makes it look much darker than it really is — the moth is actually a very dainty pink. And dainty in size, too!

I guess time will solve the mystery of the Bordered Patch caterpillars for me. If they survived, I’m sure I’ll see them soon, fluttering about the garden.

Different Is the Norm

Two new visitors to the garden drank up nectar together, and a mad dash for the camera was the human reaction… because these visitors were SO COOL.

First a large black swallowtail, but NOT an actual Black Swallowtail — this is the black morph of the female Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, the first I’d ever seen.

blackeasternb07-08-10.jpgIf you look closely at the forewings, you can see a shadow of the stripes that are so familiar in the yellow morph of the Eastern Tiger.

blackeasternd07-08-10.jpgHer proboscis kept reminding me of Gonzo the Great, one of my favorite Muppets.

blackeasternc07-08-10.jpgA close-up reveals that the blue color is a sprinkling of little dots.

blackeasterna07-08-10.jpgZoooooom. What was that yellow and black creature zipping by? Not a bumblebee, no no. And nope, not a hummgbird. And most definitely not a butterfly. It was a Snowberry Clearwing Moth, a hummingbird moth. So beautiful and fun to watch. Just strangely named, given that it exists here in central Texas, where snow is not the norm. Apparently it was named because it likes snowberries. Go figure.


And while it can hover and zoom like a hummingbird, it does behave a little differently and rests its front legs on a bloom while drinking nectar. Its wings never seem to stop — their clear centers make them very hard to see sometimes.

snowberryclearwingc07-08-10.jpgSee its rolled-up proboscis in the photo below? I didn’t notice it until I looked at the photos, that’s how fast the big moth zipped about. The moth extends it out super fast to suck up the nectar, then rolls it right back up again for easy travel. 

snowberryclearwingd07-08-10.jpgThe Snowberry Clearwing’s caterpillar form is a hornworm, related to those infamous tomato plant munchers, but these caterpillars prefer honeysuckle (including, of course, snowberries), viburnum, cherry, and plum. Works for me.

And for them, apparently.

Get Your Cicadas in a Row, People

Other people might get their ducks in a row, but they’re just amateurs.

cicadalinea07-07-10.jpgLook at that rogue cicada shell. Get back in line!

cicadalinec07-07-10.jpgAnd oh my gosh, don’t click on this picture of these naughty cicada shells unless you are 18 or older. Do you think the adult cicadas fell in love?


Seriously, don’t you think a more stable place to molt might be the preferred choice? Then again, the little hooks on those cicada shells can really hang on for a longggg time. Oh well, to each their own!

EDIT: I’m adding a picture of an adult cicada to show how it looks out of the shell. This one looks quite gray, but I usually see ones that are light green in color in Texas. Other species have yet other colors, as well.


Content Again

My initial shock and dismay over the vast destruction laid to my Cinnamon Sun sunflowers and Zexmenia by millions and gazillions of caterpillars all at one time were fortunately temporary emotions, and I’ve adjusted to this new level of habitat. I’m back to feeling happy, content, and utterly pleased. The butterflies fluttering about the garden today are more numerous than I’d ever dreamed of (I’m still astounded by this, I admit), and they swept me up in waves of joy and peace. Soon, all those hundreds of ravenous Bordered Patch caterpillars that caused me momentary freak-out will create an even more amazing butterfly scene — who can argue with that?

So I won’t dwell on the skeleton leaves and plant carcasses they are leaving behind and I will instead rejoice in the fact that most of the plants so far are surviving and putting on a beautiful bloom display — 30 blooms almost entirely on one Cinnamon Sun plant alone. I get to report on new butterflies in the garden, as well, and also bees and spiders, and this habitat mama is happy as a clam.

If ever there was a question about sunflowers being so aptly named, I present this photo as a clear argument for the appropriateness. It shows the fiery side of the sun in flower form. In fact, I almost named this post Sunrise or Sunset after this shot, because that’s what it makes me think of, but I actually took this in the middle of the day, so it would be cheating.


As I hovered around my sunflowers, alternating between pictures of blooms and caterpillar damage, I was joined by hummingbirds just a few feet away at the Standing Cypress, flying closer to me than ever and completely ignoring me. I missed the snapshot, though, because the two hummingbirds suddenly had one of their feisty spats and flew off. I’m not sure they even realized how close to me they were.

And then I saw the bees at the sunflowers, and my attention turned back to the fiery blazes before me. These weren’t honeybees — they were “Yellow Butt Bees” as I called them when I first saw them (Please don’t think that’s their real name! I was just distinguishing them from the similarly-sized honeybees we all know. Besides, perhaps “Yellow Belly” would be more appropriate; I can hear Yosemite Sam now calling them Yellow-bellied Varmints… except they are no varmints!). The best I could do was try to get some pictures in the poor light so that I could ID them later. I believe they are the species Megachile perihirta. Western Leafcutter Bees. Texas natives, woot.

Why are they called Leafcutter Bees? Well, they cut small little circles out of leaves and use the pieces to fashion little nest cells, adding to them some nectar and pollen for the eggs they’ll lay. These solitary bees are some of the bees that benefit from Bee Boxes.

cinnsunbeec07-05-10.jpgAt one point, one of the bees looked straight at me. The little bee looks so cute that it seems unreal — my son actually thought I stuck the bee image onto the photo. I like to think that it was posing for the camera and not considering me a momentary threat. In any case, it was cute enough to become a header shot for the blog page (scroll up and click refresh if you’d like to see it).


At the same time as their larger cousins, tinier native bees were also busy at work. They are harder to see, crawling in and out of the little flower parts.

cinnsunbeee07-05-10.jpgThese native bees are the best pollinators a garden could ask for. Hugs to them all.

Back at the Gregg’s Mistflower in the Spider’s Favorite Locale, a spider reigns queen predator. I believe she is a Banded Garden Spider, Argiope trifasciata. And I think she might be the very same spider I found in the same spot a couple of weeks ago, perhaps then a juvenile and now mature (I’ve edited that post). She’s a beauty, and highly successful in her predator talents. She had four wrapped-up carcasses that she was very focused on, and within hours she had consumed them, removed them, and repaired the web, ready for more.

She’s as beautiful on her upper exterior…

bandedgardenspidera07-04-10.jpgas she is underneath. In fact, I shot the picture below first before I even realized she was facing away from me.

bandedgardenspiderb07-04-10.jpgI spy what might be pollen seeping through the silk encasing — might that be another bee? Gah. The nature of nature, once again.

To follow up on the Bordered Patch butterflies, I’m happy to report that they do eat Straggler Daisy, or Horseherb. In fact, there are already other groups of them out there munching away. The ones in the picture below are a little too small for me to identify for sure as Bordered Patch, but they are surely related, at the very least.

caterpillarsonhorseherb07-04-10.jpgI took a few of the more severely devasted sunflower leaves still covered with tons of caterpillars and relocated the little crawlies to the Horseherb for a dietary change, and so far so good. There are still many dozens on the sunflowers, but I feel better about all the plants’ chances at this point. And as I mentioned last time, I’ve got plenty of Horseherb to go around. I also discovered even more groups of young caterpillars on the Zexmenia, but those plants are fairly well established and are thus on their own. I read that one Bordered Patch female can lay 500 eggs — now I understand why I have such an invasion of munching munchers.

The older caterpillars are looking quite interesting, now that they are getting large.

borderedpatchcat07-05-10.jpgHmmm. Another caterpillar discovery. I have Genista moth caterpillars munching on one of my Texas Mountain Laurels, and eggs on another. But from what I read, the laurels should be okay. There are so many mountain laurels here in Austin, Texas, and they all do okay, right? The damage is ugly, though, but not devastating. I think. Hmmm, I feel the inkling of worry again…

genistacaterpillarb07-04-10.jpgI’m not sure whether these are Genista eggs, but I suspect they could be.

eggsonmountainlaurel07-04-10.jpgWhile I was walking around outside, something large moving by caught my eye. At first I thought it was a bird, but then I realized it was a butterfly. From a distance I couldn’t tell whether it was a Giant Swallowtail or an Eastern Tiger, but it was definitely huge. And then it came down right by me for a nectar feast on the butterfly bush. An Eastern Tiger Swallowtail. Yay!


It’s the first time one has stayed still long enough for me to get a non-blurry picture. The sun was too harsh, but I’ll take what I can get. I continue to have a wary eye on the butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii, a non-native with a questionable reputation), but it earned big points when that Eastern Tiger landed upon it.

easterntigerb07-05-10.jpgI’m still waiting on my Giants to emerge from their chrysalises. I’m getting nervous, as I always do. 

Buckeyes are here now! New visitors to the garden. So beautiful.

buckeye07-04-10.jpgAnd I still can’t resist the charm of the Cinnamon Sun sunflowers. More pictures must be posted.


cinnsund07-5-10.jpgSee what I mean?