Creepy? Cute? Pretty?

It’s prime time for observing flowers and insects right now. I thought I’d share a couple of the things I’ve been observing, and give an update on my cactus that I shared a photo of a couple of days ago.

Insect of the Month

I’d say this is my favorite insect observation this month. Look at that big, green head! It’s a compost fly, and quite tiny. It was calm enough sitting on my hand that I could get a couple of nice images of it.

Not only am I cute, I’m helpful.

I don’t think I’d ever heard of compost flies before. It turns out they are a type of soldier fly.

Solider Flies are brilliant mimics of wasps and bees, but they do not sting and are so tiny, they may be difficult to find.

It turns out these are insect Good Citizens, too! The bug identification site continues: “This species of Soldier Fly can be found in woods, gardens, and parks, with populations of adults hovering or standing over rotting plant matter. They are very small in size. These Solider Flies are not pests and do not seem interested in humans or their buildings like House Flies. They have been seen on compost heaps, piles of grass clippings, and other decomposing vegetation. Females lay fertilized eggs on the plant matter, so they are also called Compost Flies. Maggots are also small and tan in color with ten segments to their worm-like bodies. The Solider Fly maggots eat the compost and their presence may deter other types of pesky flies from inhabiting the same area. Adults are believed to drink flower nectar.”

This sounds like an insect I’d like to see more of at the Hermits’ Rest. What a little helper!

Arachnid Beauty

Yesterday, when I arrived at the tack room area to help feed the horses, I noticed that a spider had come along for the short drive with me (I can’t walk, due to dogs wanting to come along). It looked really cool from inside the car, so I took a picture.

Looking up at the bold jumper.

When I got out, it patiently waited while I got a photo of its top, too. (Sometimes I have duh moments, like when I realized I had the setting on “video.”) I knew immediately that it was a jumping spider, because we have lots of them here.

Extreme spider close-up.

I looked her up and she’s a bold jumping spider. They certainly are beautiful creatures to me. The mouth and eyes are so colorful and shiny, while the body is so crisply patterned. I’m glad she traveled with me.

My Cactus

A few days ago I wrote about how wealthy I was becoming from people clicking on blog ads (four cents). I also shared a photo of a nice-sized cactus I have at the Austin house, which appeared to be ready to bloom. I predicted it would bloom over the weekend, when I would be at the ranch.

Yep. It did. Anita was kind enough to take a picture for me though. Since I had the photo, I thought I’d find out what kind of cactus it is. On iNaturalist, I found out it is a pincushion cactus, which is native to central Mexico, and very common there.

The best thing, though, was finding out its genus is Mammillaria. It’s called that, because these plants have nipple-like bumps sticking out of them, which reminded whoever named them of mammals. That’s pretty cool.

Here’s some informationon caring for Mammillaria, which come in lots of colors and shapes, it turns out. The link is from a succulent website with great information on growing, propagating, and getting flowers from these cacti. It seems like World of Succulents would be a good site for any of you who want to enjoy this popular plant family.

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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