A New Colourful Meeting Spot in Town … The Texas Kidneywood

The Texas Kidneywood is a popular and colourful meeting spot these days! Most of the plants at Willowbrook Reach have finished flowering and are putting their energy into growing seeds and fruit. Any chance for nectar from the few remaining flowers probably dried up long ago so I imagine these fresh blossoms must look like an oasis for pollinators.

couple of bugs
On the left is a large milkweed bug (Oncopeltus fasciatus). On the right is Atteva aurea — a kind of ermine moth.

Texas Kidneywood is a fast growing native shrub/small tree. It doesn’t need much water and can survive a serious drought by dropping its leaves. The flowers have a lovely clean scent like clover. If my patio had more sun I would love to grow one. bliss.

Oncopeltus fasciatus with wings extended
Oncopeltus fasciatus with wings extended

Besides the greater milkweed beetle and moth, I also saw two tarantula hawks. I wonder where their lair is and if we will see more next year. Their blue undersides have a matte texture like crushed velvet.

tarantula hawk
tarantula hawk
tarantula hawk
tarantula hawk
tarantula hawk on kidneywood
tarantula hawk on kidneywood

Close by at the creek  I FINALLY got a picture of one of the bright green dragonflies I’ve seen flitting about all summer. The Eastern Pondhawk may be common but I think they are prettier than emeralds. The females are green; males blue. I’ve been chasing them for weeks! Not exactly in focus but these girls don’t like to loiter for long.

It has been a magical year for dragonflies. I haven’t seen any of the fushia pink ones that are supposed to live in Austin but I swear I must have seen everything else: including a metallic golden one that actually glinted in the sun.

female Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis)
female Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis)

At home my brugmansia opened its first blossom. This will probably make no sense but when I breathe it in, the scent floods my mind in several directions all at once: high, low and medium notes all at once. I am temporarily blinded as my tiny brain tries to parse it all out. Is this what it is like to be a dog at a stop sign? My husband is more succinct. He said it reminds him of peonies: rich and complex.

brug2The scent is much stronger at night attracting night fliers like this little guy seen lingering on one of the POISONOUS leaves in the morning. First the anole and now this guy. Maybe I need to put up a sign.

firefly
firefly

in profile …

firefly September 2014
firefly September 2014

I am kind of astonished that I have become a bug-person. I used to be really squicked out by insects when I was a girl. But really: arthropods are so amazing and so beautiful once you get to know even a bit about their world. Kind of hard NOT to appreciate them, really.