Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Toad-ally Amazing!

Temperatures, which have hovered in the high 90s, have dropped a bit this week, and there's been a nice breeze.  I like to walk around on days like this, and I bring my camera, because I usually see something interesting.

I'm used to seeing bits of hapless moths caught up in spiderwebs.  

But this week I saw a really beautiful (living) moth on one of our screens.  Identifying moths is tricky, because there are just so many different varieties, but this moth's unusual coloring made it easier.  He had a turquoise and orange-striped patch of fur, which helped me to identify him as Halysidota tessellaris.  "Tessella" in Latin means little square stone, and a pattern of little square stones laid together makes a mosaic - just the pattern on Halysidota tessellaris' wing.  Isn't he lovely?

I'm seeing many more cicada husks, clinging to tree trunks and leaves.

I saw a beautiful spider web, and the alternating dashes on the supporting threads was a dead giveaway.  At last, a spiny-backed orb weaver!

A little toad crossed my path. 

 I also found a dead bat.  I don't think it's a secret that I love bats - I've had a bat house for many years, and I've had great fun knitting bats. 

I think bats have a bit of an undeserved bad reputation.  Bats eat pesky insects, and they are wonderful pollinators.  This little guy is an Evening Bat (Nycticeius humeralis), very common around here. 

Hooray - my chives are getting ready to bloom!

Some of them, though, are afflicted by black bean aphids (Aphis fabae).  These little pests suck the sap from the plants and keep them from opening up.  They're tiny and cling to both the flower head and the stalk.

You can kill them by squashing them, or spraying the stalks down with a soapy water mixture.  I'm afraid there's still a bit of hands-on squashing involved, though!

My sweet autumn clematis is blooming.

The flowers are small, so it's hard to see in the picture, but they start down by the driveway and climb all the way up to the tops of the gardenia bushes.  They're so, so pretty!

Other flowers are doing well - my ginger lilies, the liriope, and even a large patch of marigolds that I planted in a bed that needed tough, unfussy flowers.

I've been baking, too, a great deal.  This week I wanted to try something unusual.  It sounds pedestrian at first - just another copycat oatmeal cream pie recipe.  But this recipe includes a packed cup of dried apple rings, and cocoa powder.  I decided to give it a try.  They were wonderful!  Super soft and chewy, but firm enough to hold up to filling and stacking. 

 My only modification was adding about 2 ounces of cream cheese to the filling, which I thought gave it a better taste.  If you want to give it a try, here is the recipe. 

Have a great week! 

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