Thursday, July 19, 2012

At home with Phalenopsis

My garden is at a standstill right now. We have had very little rain for the past month, mostly empty promises, and I have been spending a lot of time keeping plants alive.

So instead we are going to look indoors at my one and only plant, a phalenopsis orchid. I am a renowned indoor plant killer as I have said only once before (no need to boast, right?). However this ubiquitous orchid does not seem to have listened to the warnings. It has been showering me with blooms since I received it as a gift back in March of this year.
Have a look.

Back in March this orchid had the one upright stem with blooms which did die. I cut the stem down to the next node and it began creating more flower buds almost right away. Then it put out two more stems that you can see at the bottom. The buds on the right have yet to open.

Here we are today. All but one bud is fully open. I am still in awe at how floriferous this orchid is.
And now for a few fancy shmancy photos.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Over the long weekend we had two very different animal sightings. First is a lady bird or lady bug:

This is its true colour out of the sunlight
I have been unable to find out what kind of lady bug this is. It is brown with 14 black spots ringed in white. The pronotum ( new word for me) is black and white, with possibly two white spots by the eyes. The lady bug sites I found do not show this creature.

Later that evening we had the great fortune of seeing a Saw Whet Owl. Our attention was hijacked by a ruckus created by some robins and jays. Eventually the culprit emerged from the trees and showed himself off to us.

They are not a big owl, only getting to 7 or 8 inches (17-22 cm.) in length.

As it was dusk I had a difficult time getting a good picture. The first two are with flash, the last two are without flash.

Addendum: It appears I was mistaken on the type of owl. This owl is a juvenile Eastern Screech Owl. I looked up images of the saw whet after I posted and found differences in the plumage as well as, saw whet owls do not have ear tufts. I was close but no cigar as the saying goes. They are the same size owl at eight and a half inches tall and enjoy similar habitats.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Cool Wasp Nest

Over the past week hubby and I have been watching this wasp build a nest on the house right next to the front door. 

It is called a pipe organ mud dauber wasp. While this variety does not make actual looking pipe organ nests, it does make these cylindrical pipe shaped tubes in which it lays one egg. A tube is built next to each other as well as a row on top of the existing egg lair. 

We watched the wasp travel long distances to find muddy areas from which to take the mud to build the nest. No wonder it took over a week to build.

Look closely to see the spider

Before each tube is capped the wasp selects a spider, which it paralyzes with a sting, and then places the spider or three in each tube. When the egg hatches there is a meal waiting for the young larva. Then at some point the larva builds a pupa in which it will metamorphose into the wasp.

While it is totally fascinating, it turns out the life cycle of the wasp from egg to larva to wasp takes one year. Unfortunately we are really not prepared to leave the nest over a year by the front door. The mature wasp it not aggressive and rarely stings humans; despite this I believe the nest will still have to go.

If you want more information on this fascinating wasp, here is a good web site to check them out: Look here