Closing out

A few last photos for August, having obtained these just recently. My post and photo counts remain a little behind last year and/or average, but this is the way it’s been. Ya can’t change fate.

zebra swallowtail Eurytides marcellus on butterfly bush Buddleia davidii
Glancing out the window, I spotted a butterfly species that I’d never seen before on one of the butterfly bushes (Buddleia davidii.) It flitted away as I watched, then circled around and came back, so I went and grabbed the camera. It did at least another indecisive loop, but paused long enough on the flowers for me to get a few frames.

zebra swallowtail Eurytides marcellus on butterfly bush Buddleia davidii
This demonstrates that needs to start using tags on their photos instead of simply searching within the accompanying text, because my search of “black white butterfly” turned up only one species even close, and that was a pale tiger swallowtail. Which this is not – it’s a zebra swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus) and not at all uncommon in the region, despite the fact that I’d never seen one before. BugGuide definitely has them listed, with plenty of photos, but apparently nothing that connects to a search for “black white butterfly.”

[This butterfly bush, by the way, had been planted in the yard but was struggling and appeared near death’s door, so a couple months back I transplanted it into a pot, where it simply exploded – the butterfly bushes do not like our native soil, but my custom potting mix is all kinds of okay to them. I hate to convert large areas into planter beds, but given the results I might have to, in order to have flower beds to attract these kind of subjects.]

While doing this, I checked on the anole lairs, then took a look at the rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) flowers, doing well for the first time this year (it likes the soil.)

rose of Sharon Hibiscus syriacus blossom showing something within
This blossom was definitely past peak, but as I was doing a few frames, I noticed something within. I paused and leaned closer, and instead of cowering down into better cover, it marched up the petal to a prominent location.

rose of Sharon Hibiscus syriacus blossom with unidentified crab spider
I don’t know the species of crab spider – it might be a young male goldenrod crab spider – and I certainly can’t explain why it made itself as obvious as possible as I loomed over; I wouldn’t think crab spiders would be aware of my enormous reputation as a photographer and skilled blogger, but what can I say? You tell me that’s not a conspicuous flex.

Right alongside this plant, I’ve been seeing another mantis on the blackberry lilies (Iris domestica,) and in the evening checked it out again, catching it on the seed pods that give the flower its names – or one of many, anyway.

adult Chinese mantis Tenodera sinensis on seed pods of blackberry lily Iris domestica
Doing this shot at light, aside from keeping the mantis from getting spooked at my presence, provided an interesting synchronicity with the dark eyes and the exposed seeds – it wasn’t intentional, especially since I didn’t know the mantis would be all the way up at the top of the stalk where the seeds are, but I’ll take credit for it anyway.

I am slightly leery of the mantis being here, because these flowers are right alongside the oak-leaf hydrangea where three of the anoles like to hang out, and the mantis is big enough to make a meal of them, but that’s how nature works. The anoles don’t seem to like the thin stalks of the lilies and the mantis hasn’t taken to the broad leaves of the hydrangea, so at the moment they remain separated.

Across the yard on the largest rosemary bush remains the large adult that I’ve been keeping tabs on, now looking rather promising.

possibly pregnant adult Chinese mantis Tenodera sinensis perched among rosemary branches
This is almost exactly where the first of the oothecas hatched out this spring, lending a little more weight to the suspicion that mantids return to the location where they were born to produce their own oothecas. And she looks almost ready, doesn’t she? Provided it is a she and this is evidence of impending eggs, which I can’t say for sure. But I’m watching carefully, because I still have to get that on film, uh, whatever.

[In fact, I just checked again as I type this, but no indications yet. Sitting there waiting for the event to happen isn’t really viable; it might take days, and in the interim, mantids don’t really do much – she’s been in the same portion of the bush for the past day, and the same bush for well over a week. Plus my presence might actually cause her to delay laying her eggs, so I’m just hoping to catch her as she’s committed.]

One last one, because it’s here.

Monster sleeping with head through upstairs railing
I don’t think I’ve ever seen her sleep like this, but Monster took a little nap with her head poking through the upstairs railing, allowing me a shot from directly underneath. It was just over three years ago that we brought her home as a stray, and I don’t think she misses that life.