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Garden Visitors

This page shows some of the creatures that I've seen in my garden.

<=== The caterpillar in the next three photos was very well camouflaged. Only about 1/4 of his body protruded from his semi-cocoon. He traveled much like a hermit crab. If I had not seen him (her?) moving, I would not have ever been able to differentiate it from any of the other debris lying around. The entire thing was maybe 1/2 inch long.
<=== I get several of these 2 - 3 inch long caterpillars each year. They seem to dine exclusively on my butterfly weed. A friend of mine has identified them as monarch butterfly larvae.
<=== I found the egg chamber of a potter wasp (approximately 3/8" in diameter) on the trunk of one of my pine trees. The potter wasp lays a single egg in the chamber then paralyzes several caterpillars and and stocks the chamber with them as food for developing larva. The chamber opening is sealed with a mud pellet, making the pot rainproof until the emerging wasp cuts an exit hole from the inside.

The vine pictured is an Angel's Wing Jasmine.

<=== The paper wasp pictured here is doing something interesting. If you look closely, you can see that the wasp has torn some of the wood off of this old wood stake. The wasps shred off a piece of wood and then chew it with their mandibles until it becomes a paper that they can use as material for their nest. I never disturb or remove any bee or wasp nests unless absolutely necessary. (For example, if they try to build one under my favorite bench --- don't ask, but it did sort of smart to sit down for several days.)

However, almost all bees and most wasps are plant pollinators. Besides, many wasps also hunt caterpillars, which helps to save my plant's foliage.

<=== I believe this to be an alkali bee. It was difficult to capture with my camera. Here it sits on a blade of variegated Lirope.

Our backyard was nothing but sandy loam when we first moved in and these bees nested here by the hundreds. Alas, our grass, flower beds and brick pavers ruined almost all of their nesting grounds. I still find that several will dig down into the crevices to make nests between the pavers as this area is filled with sand.

Alkali bees are excellent pollinators and although the females are equipped with a stinger, I have found them to be quite harmless.

<=== I get plenty of these visitors, as well I should, considering my hobby.

Actually, one would think that with anywhere from 60,000 to (at times) 250,000 honeybees in my backyard, they would be so thick that they would be a pest. However, I only see a handful foraging in my yard. In the spring, there are just too many other better and more plentiful plants for obtaining nectar and pollen than I can provide at home. In the summer, when pickings are slimmer, I do see more bees, but 99% of them still prefer to forage far away.

The only plant that seems to attract them like a magnet is the Mexican Heather.