Thursday, July 9, 2009

Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling Again

We've been in a pretty wet pattern lately, which we here in My Florida Backyard don't mind at all. The lake and the rain barrel are both full to the brim, and far beneath our feet we know Florida's aquifers are filling up too. This is the way summer in Florida should be.

About a month ago, I stopped filling the bird feeder because the pigeons were taking over. However, I was getting lonely for our regular visitors, so I filled it up again yesterday, and today I found that the birds were back in abundance. In fact, the red-bellied woodpecker goes so far as to chase off the pigeons, but politely allows the cardinals and titmice to feed right along side.

The woodpecker likes to hang out in the pine trees nearby too; no doubt the soft bark hides many delicious creatures for him to dig out and scarf down.

The rainy weather keeps the butterflies away, for the most part, but it's a great time to go on a caterpillar hunt. My milkweed has constant visits from Monarchs, so it's not surprising we have plenty of brightly colored Monarch Caterpillars:

From the very small...
To the very large!
My passionvine may be stubborn about flowering lately, but the Gulf Fritillary butterflies are still using it to lay their eggs, as is evidenced by their spiky orange caterpillars:

Finally, I made one more interesting discovery, which my neighbor Paula (of Adopt-A-Pond fame) helped me identify as lacewing eggs. I love how they hover at the ends of their delicate little threads:
Unfortunately, research tells me that once they hatch, the lacewings will feed on such tasty morsels as that little tiny monarch caterpillar crawling alongside them. Although lacewings are generally considered beneficial in a garden for just that reason, I'm actually trying to raise caterpillars, so the lacewings have to go.

Rain or shine, My Florida Backyard continues to amaze me with the amount of wildlife you can find in a tiny piece of suburbia!

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