Saturday, July 27, 2013

Work(er) Bee

At work last week I noticed an insect flying in and out of the open door of the back shop area. It hovered in front of the pegboard tool cabinet like it was looking for something. Then would fly out the door and return a few minutes later. I went over to see what was going on.

It turned out to be a little Leaf Cutter Bee, carefully inspecting the holes in the pegboard.

The bee finally landed and crawled into one of the openings. After a few minutes she exited the hole and flew out the back door of the shop.

I kept an eye on the Bee as it made a number of trips flying in and out of the shop. She was bringing bright pink circles cut from bougainvillea.

This is a picture of her as she was backed into the hole, laying her egg (below).

She continued working the whole morning, flying in and out of the back door bringing more bits of pink bougainvillea.

She stopped her trips by early afternoon, and I didn't see her again after that.

She left a bit of bougainvillea hanging out of one of the pegboard holes.

When I left work that afternoon, I drove around the building looking for the bougainvillea plants she might have been using. The closest one was across the street and about half a block away.

It was pretty odd to think that an INDOOR pegboard tool cabinet was the best option a Leaf Cutter Bee could find to lay her eggs in. She must have looked in a lot of different places to find suitable "habitat", and hopefully she did find other locations for her eggs.

This was a clear example of how important man-made habitat can be to help the smallest creatures to survive - even if it is a happy coincidence.

"One touch of Nature makes the whole world kin."
~Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida

Monday, July 22, 2013

Desert Monsoon

Our desert monsoon season has started a little earlier than usual this year.

We've had clouds and high humidity the last 2 weekends.

Yesterday we finally had some rain. Actually, more like sprinkles in our area.

Palm Springs and the nearby mountains received more rain than we did.

It helped to slow the Mountain Fire.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Mountain Fire

Colorful sunsets the last couple of evenings due to the Mountain Fire burning behind Mount San Jacinto, just west of Palm Springs.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Butterfly Habitat


There is an area in our front yard that has been - well, challenging.

We originally planted a small cactus there, but it was soon overrun by weeds and flowers that re-seeded from other areas of our yard.

In spite of constant weeding and tweaking the drip irrigation, the cactus just wasn't happy there, and the weeds were winning.

It's hard to even see the cactus in this picture (Clue: center bottom).

I decided to take advantage of the cloudy skies and relatively cooler temperatures (low 100's) we were having with the monsoon weather, to work in the yard and see what could be done to clean things up there.

One of the volunteer plants growing in the clump is Salt Heliotrope. It had been growing there for a while and had spread into some nearby areas of our yard. I had previously been pulling it as a weed until I noticed that butterflies really seemed to like it. So I decided to change my thinking, listen to Mother Nature and give it a chance.

Salt Heliotrope - Heliotropium curassavicum

Salt Heliotrope is native to the western and southern U.S. and up onto the Great Plains. It has also naturalized in some parts of the northeast. The plant has long stems that grow low to the ground. The white flowers are small and simple, but actually rather pretty - bell shaped with a yellow or purple center. The fleshy leaves and stems are a greyish-green color. Salt Heliotrope can grow well in salty and alkali soils, as well as wetland areas.

While I was working, I came across a number of Praying Mantises.

This one watched me intently.

I apologized for disturbing his neighborhood.

He ended up relocating to the nearby agave.

It took awhile to untangle the long stems. After some selective weeding we were left with some scraggly looking stems of Salt Heliotrope.

And a forlorn-looking little cactus.  ------->>>

I rebuilt the irrigation ring, adjusted the drip head and called it a day.

The next morning I went out to check on the plants, and there were 2 Queen Butterflies flitting between the patch I had weeded and another clump of Salt Heliotrope nearby.

I grabbed the camera, and was able to get some nice shots.

It really didn't take much effort to create a new bit of wildlife habitat.
Our yard has been changed for the better.
The results were quick.
And it didn't cost a thing.

Thank you, Mother Nature. :-)

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Independence Day

Some appropriate quotes
from our Founding Fathers
and other notable Americans.

And some pics from
the local fireworks show.

"They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty
nor safety."
~ Benjamin Franklin

"United we stand,
divided we fall.
Let us not split into factions which must destroy
that union upon which
our existence hangs."
~ Patrick Henry

"There! His Majesty
can now read my name without glasses. And he can double the reward on my head!"
~ John Hancock

"How little do my countrymen know what precious blessings they are in possession of, and which no other people on earth enjoy!"
~ Thomas Jefferson

(Happy 237th Birthday,