Creatures Great and Small

My potted Texas mountal laurel is going to bloom! I didn’t kill it.

Yesterday the weather was beautiful, so Anita, the dogs, and I spent the late afternoon outdoors in Austin. Honestly, I just wanted to get some exercise and enjoy the air, but I just can’t stop with the nature observations. I guess iNaturalist is the winner there!

Trailing lantana, invading our hillside. Can you see ants on it?

As we walked the dogs, Anita asked me what a pretty white flower was. I could see it was a type of lantana, but it was not in a spot where anyone would have planted it. So, I submitted it to iNaturalist and hoped for the best.

They came through! Thanks to helpful experts, I now know it’s a type of creeping lantana that has escaped cultivation and now counts as an invasive plant. Boo. But it smells good and is pretty.

Rest in peace, little house gecko.

As we enjoyed a glass of wine on the deck, I kept noticing more stuff, like a house gecko who’d passed away. It was pretty big for one of those, so maybe it was at the end of its life (most of the ones we see are quite small).

Ants transitioning from tree to deck.

Getting smaller, I was also annoyed to see that the ants that live on the live oak tree that is on top of our deck are back and crawling on the deck rails. I don’t blame them. The rotting deck is probably a great shelter. When I looked them up, they appeared to be Crematogaster laeviuscula. That’s a mouthful for a small creature. It’s also a valentine ant or acrobat ant, and a native of this area down into Mexico, and nowhere else.

This is an extreme closeup of the same picture I posted above.

You know what’s smaller than an ant? An even smaller ant! I realized the verbena blossoms had tiny ants on them, so what they heck, I looked them up, too. Again, I hoped the iNaturalist folks would help me out, and sure enough, they at least narrowed it down to odorous ants. The commenter said it could be a native one or an invasive one, and he was not sure which. Cool!

That’s my finger. Definitely a small spider.

You know what’s smaller than a tiny ant? A very, very tiny spider! I put this picture up on iNaturalist to see if anyone knows what it is, but I got no takers. This little darling was FAST, and thus hard to photograph. She also jumped a lot. I had a lot of fun trying to observe her, though!

I didn’t forget to LOOK UP and see the greater picture!

And today

The weather is icky again. It has gotten down to 37 degrees and is raining. The good weather was fun while it lasted. The Work Hawks love it. We got to see the male catch something and eat it.

Author: Sue Ann (Suna) Kendall

The person behind The Hermits' Rest blog and many others. I'm a certified Texas Master Naturalist and love the nature of Milam County. I manage technical writers in Austin, help with Hearts Homes and Hands, a personal assistance service, in Cameron, and serve on three nonprofit boards. You may know me from La Leche League, knitting, iNaturalist, or Facebook. I'm interested in ALL of you!

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