Monday, September 12, 2016

I Spy, Identify (Or Try...)

As I arrived home after the gym this morning, I was mentally working through my large list of things that needed to get done today.  Then I saw this really cool mushroom when I got out of the car and immediately cleared the morning so that I could take a few pictures.

I can't help it.  It's been so miserably hot and we've both been cooped up in the house for so long, so on a day when there's actually a breeze, and the temperature doesn't start with a '9' or a '1,' I have to get outside.

It was a great day to do so.  Anoles have been everywhere lately, especially the babies.  They're quite skittish, but if you watch for unexpected movement on leaves or in bushes, you can usually find a few.

I even saw one on the window ledge in my office yesterday!

I love them!  Of course, lots of moths and butterflies this time of year.  Identifying the common ones, like the tiger swallowtails, is really easy.

Or if they have distinctive coloring, like this Agraulis vanillae...

...or this red-banded hairstreak...

...identification is a breeze.  But what if they're just...brown?

I have to go by the shape of the 'snout' and the wings.  Still, the best I could do on this particular moth was guess that it was in the family Noctuidae.  

Same with this beautiful Xylophanes tersa.  Even with its unusual size and beautiful markings, doing a search for an "orange-ish moth" will not bring you an identification. 

In my mind, the most distinctive attribute was the graceful wing shape with the peek-a-boo eye.

Studying wing shape in moth pictures by family helped me to choose the correct one, and then searching within the family enabled me to make the right identification.  I really love the challenge of it!  Still, I see insects all the time that I just can't identify, like this giant mosquito-like one from this morning.

In my walkabout, I also spotted a pregnant praying mantis... eastern leaf-footed bug...

...a gorgeous double-banded scoliid wasp...

...and evidence of a recently-departed cicada.

Our beautyberry bushes are laden with fully-ripe berries... I decided to pick some to make a bouquet.  You have to be careful, because there are almost always stowaways!

I love these plants.

They make gorgeous bouquets!

Hopefully this cooling trend continues and I can have many more productive walks.  Have a great week! 

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