12/31/2022 turning compost, turning new year

It was a beautiful day yesterday so Paula wanted to turn the compost! I fetched our pitchfork which is from Mom and Dad. The Chef created a new handle and stick for it.
The back, older pile may be ready by spring! Weirdly it was drier, though. We set up some hoses to direct water from the closest rain barrels to both piles now, since it’s not good to leave water in the barrels when it might freeze.
A very fast rollypolley!
Paula adeptly captured this woodroach. It’s a North American native genus! For those worried about roaches in the house, I’ve never seen one in the house. This is an outside only friend, doing its ecological role of nutrient cycling by munching on detritus (here, in the compost- just what we need for veggie waste to be turned into good rich soil!). It’s the invasive and introduced-by-European-settlers (presumably accidentally) roaches that are human-associated, such as the German Cockroach.
The tragic face of a dog not allowed in the compost area. She likes to eat eggshells. There’s also a great stash of feral cat poop down behind the house in the leaves. For Briar’s sake, please keep your cats indoors. She might be allowed a chance at the eggshells if there wasn’t cat poop!!

12/23/2022 feeding our friends

Briar was very interested in the three squirrels.
Shackleton liked the sun, the squirrels, and the chickadees and juncos! Good stuff! I was pleased to see the juncos eating chenopodium seeds and wild sunflower seeds off the dead plants as well as the supplemental bird seeds we put out today for the cold weather. It got up to 19 F.

12/22/2022 definitely no birds only leaves

I put out bird seed since it’s so cold and a flock of a dozen or so juncos visited. They never came when we first moved here- they needed the cover of the wood pile and later the brush pile.
I put the seeds on the stepping stones and by the brush pile especially to make it easier and safer.
Shackleton might have noticed the birds. The birds say any and all movement was leaves! Definitely no birds!! Fortunately for them, this polar explorer is indoors only except on a leash. Much safer for birds and warmer for Shacks.

12/14/2022 winter plantings

I ordered plants from a new to me nursery, Missouri Wildflowers Nursery.
Hmm box with ok smells?
Gram came running to see if he could have the box.
“Hello little brother “
The packing by this nursery was quite clever! Shredded paper mostly over the rosettes or dormant pots.
They also kindly marked the plants that were dormant. A few other species had low winter leaves (spiderwort) or rosettes (asters, pussytoes).
Even the dormant plants had happy roots!
The soil held together with roots but weren’t aggressively bound in.
Paula found a small cicada larva under the oak tree while planting!
We also uncovered an ancient Nylabone from Briar’s youth. She was unimpressed.

10/08/2022 Ruby Grant park

Caterpillar on broom weed
A grasshopper with very worn wings on Grindelia.
A tree cricket on Grindelia!
A megachilid bee on Grindelia.
Fall is starting! Sumacs in particular are turning red.
A noctuid moth on Maximilian sunflowers.
A bumblebee (Bombus impatiens) nearby on the same sunflower plant.
So many Maximilian sunflowers!
Briar poses in front of the prairie filled with more sunflowers.
A purple aster!
On the first Liatris we saw, Paula found these purple caterpillars.
Mom mentioned Schinia sanguinea at home recently and we think that’s what these are. She saw the adult first then later the caterpillars. Two other Schinia sp can apparently also eat Liatris according to this website (and of course they don’t provide a citation). However the owlet moth caterpillar book, which Mom has, doesn’t mention this.
A sleepy Dainty Sulphur. It was a cloudy and cool day afternoon before sunset.
A parasitic wasp resting on snow-on-the-mountain.
Another interesting moth on Maximilian sunflowers.
Green grasshoppers were distracted so I got a close up of their textured greens!
The prairie is full of messages. Briar sniffs sunflowers as we walk by.
A long-horned bee rests on a Grindelia. There were so many Grindelia at all stages.
A very fuzzy Croton species.

10/09/2022 Saxon park

Schinia gaurae moth (the clouded crimson) caterpillar on false gaura! We counted nine around our 1.75 mi loop.
The tall rosettes of the false gaura were nice to see since they look just like my garden one.
A Schinia moth I haven’t identified feeding on aster flowers.
This bumblebee loved the Salvia azurea.
Back of two spotted bumblebee where you can see the spots!
Funnel web spider says no pictures, please.
A tree cricket hiding on Liatris.
The seed pod of a Baptisia. Mom said possibly B. australis var. minor
Paula found two big beautiful lynx spider mommas! Wow! This is one guarding its egg sac.
A tiny caterpillar on false gaura.
The first Solomon’s seal I’ve seen in the wild! We have several in the yard but no idea if they’re volunteers or planted.
Probably a buckwheat, the botany consulting committee says.
Abby, Mom, and Jeanne also agreed this was probably a dwarf lead plant.
Paula found a magnificent sumac leaf turning yellow to red.
The Sumac is really turning beautiful reds all over!

09/24/2022 seedlings and fall flowers

Wild tepary bean has a flower!
Mystery seedling. I put a lot out here of many species so it gets to be a surprise unless someone recognizes it.
I suspect this is an Illinois bundleflower as I distributed a lot of them.
The big leafy seedling looks neat and is accompanied by a spotted euphorbia and maybe a blurry lyre leaf sage?
An almost metallic little moth on the goldenrod from Abby (probably S. canadensis). Mom saw a similar one recently at home on frostweed.
Possibly a Ceratina bee on the mistflowers.

09/08/2022 nighttime only adventure

The Chef wanted to see what was out this week so we took the UV flashlight and checked. Here’s a spider!
It’s beige in regular light.
I had no idea there were hairless bee flies. This one came to the porch light. We turned off the porch light once we went inside so all the critters could go back to their business.
We found three glowing crab spiders. All of them were on insect pollinated flowers, so I wonder if they glow to blend in for pollinators who can see UV? Though on this Salvia greggii, presumably all the pollen is farther down the flower. But we found two on zinnias.
The green striped cushaw squash looks melted!
Escobaria missouriensis cactus spines glow!
There’s a lot of sunflower pollen glowing. You can see how much has fallen off!
This was my favorite picture of the glowing sunflower pollen: just the disk flowers glowing against the dark sky, leaves barely visible.

Wild Poinsettia (Euphorbia sp.)

The Wild Poinsettia is really buzzing with bees and other tiny friends lately over the past few days! It’s a very enthusiastic unsolicited volunteer but it seems to get a lot of customers now that the weather is cooling down into the 80s and 90s. It is a native plant and hosts also the very fun Euphorbia bug which has little pompoms on its antennae.

A tiny bee.
An Eastern tailed-blue
An immature euphorbia bug
A potter wasp
A sweat bee
A jumping spider hoping to snack on a visitor to the Euphorbia!