Small Stuff and Spiders

Small Stuff and Spiders

One of the consequences of retiring is ... you have all this time to do things you have been putting off. Or start new projects. Or ...gasp... do nothing at all.

I have been really busy with all of the above. Some days I take pictures, some days I work on my photos or the house or the garden or chores. And some days just slip away with reading or visiting or whatever. And yes, I really did go fishing last week. More on that in the weeks to come.

This week's adventure has some nice macro shots, some lovely dead crap and.... a couple of spiders.

Seed pod from dying sunflower

Seed pod from dying sunflower

The above was green and yellow, actually quite cheerful until I decided to go all Autumn on the photo. The leaves are just starting to turn here and I need to get in the mood for Fall. If I remember, this was taken at Storey Park on one of those fruitless trips to find the Orange Bishops. Those guys are still eluding me. Heavy dose of Fractalius, some Flypaper Textures and Photoshop Oil Paint.

Interesting winged insect

Interesting winged insect

This was taken at the Houston Arboretum. When I first saw the orange and black pattern, I thought it was a caterpillar. But it is definitely folded wings. Not a hard one to identify; I just Googled "Black orange white winged insect" and one of the images was the Ailanthus Webworm or Ermine Moth. When at rest, it holds its wings rolled up so it appears to be a long beetle. This moth eats the leaves of the Paradise Tree and has taken advantage of the spread of a species from China, the Tree-of-Heaven. The most interesting thing to me is they migrate. Ours here in South Texas probably stay put, but the ones from the northern states and eastern Canada can't survive the cold winters and migrate to warmer climates. I am still in awe of tiny insects migrating!

Gulf Textures

Gulf Textures

When I was in Surfside, there was a pile of debris along side one of the fields. Some concrete footing surrounding a long lost metal support was being overtaken by foliage. That is a certainty in South Texas: mild winters allow the flora to literally take over anything stationary. But, I liked the contrasts and textures in this photo. It has been enhanced with Fractalius and Photoshop Oil Paint.

I bought the CD for Photoshop; they have a new thing called the Creative Cloud where you pay by the month. The version I have is now called the Legacy Version and will not be updated. After working on software development for years, I can understand how they want to push updates instead of issuing new versions, but there is resistance to renting software.

Coral Beans

Coral Beans

There is a very interesting native plant found along the coast called Coral Beans. It has bright flowers in the summer for hummingbirds and then, toxic red beans in the fall. Fascinating plant, one of those that grows in an uncontrolled clump with long sharp spines. Way too big for my small garden, but if you have lots of yard, check it out. I have photographed it several times and this version has been treated with Fractalius and some Flypaper Textures. I don't have the full Flypaper set, only the free ones you can get on the Adobe Exchange for Photoshop.

Green Lynx Spider and offspring

Green Lynx Spider and offspring

And remember the Green Lynx Spider? Here she is with an identifiable baby spider still hanging out near the first place I saw her. The first photo with the egg case was taken on October 17. Then I checked on her November 3 and most of the babies were out of the case but didn't really have any coloring or definition. This photo was taken November 8 and it looks as though her work is done. I went back on November 19 and no sign of her or the little ones.

Spiders are interesting subjects once you get over the squeamishness of getting close. They generally don't move much and that is helpful.

Black and Yellow Garden Spider

Black and Yellow Garden Spider

This is a Black and Yellow Garden Spider and it is quite large. Research says females are from 19–28 mm (0.75–1.1 in).  We are looking at the underside, because I wanted you to see how she manipulates the silk to form the web.  There were the remains of two egg sacks brimming with tiny spiderlings at the edge of the web.

Spiderlings

Spiderlings

The Wikipedia article says some of the little spiders stay close by, but others exude a strand of silk and float away on the wind. Imagine leaving home like that....

Green Darner Dragonfly

Green Darner Dragonfly

There are these Green Darner Dragonflies I have been literally chasing for months. They are just HUGE with a wingspread of almost 5 inches. I showed you one on a tree a few adventures back, but it really doesn't show off the size or details. Recently I found one in the brush, not moving. All I know is he was immobile and I got a lot of close up photos.

It wasn't that early or cold so I don't know why he was so still. The larval stage, or nymph lives in water and they crawl up a reed or stick and start to breath air. Then they molt directly into an adult.

This one has been cropped and edited with Fractalius and Photoshop Oil Paint.

Joint effort to lay eggs

Joint effort to lay eggs

Now, the above photo shows the male Green Darner in front, holding the female by her head as she deposits the eggs in the water. I watched them for quite a while; occasionally they would fly off (still attached) and lay more eggs in a different place. Remember, I told you in the Wings not Feathers adventure:

"females lay eggs accompanied by the male". Much research later, I can tell you that means "Females normally lay their eggs in the morning, in open water, whilst their mate is still attached to them by the head".

I have just verified my own research.

Fall foliage in South Texas edited with Topaz Simplify

Fall foliage in South Texas edited with Topaz Simplify

And to wind this up, the leaves are just starting to turn here. This was taken on the spillway trail at Brazos Bend State Park. There were a lot of small flitting birds in those trees; I saw Titmice and Kinglets and a Hairy Woodpecker. All too fast for me to photograph, but fun to track with the binoculars.

It was a lovely day to be out in the woods.

Have you been out enjoying our fine fall weather? Have the leaves already turned in your area? Is it now winter where you live? Click on the bitty Comment Icon and sign in as a Guest or use one of those other options. I would love to hear from you!

New Addition

New Addition

Surfside

Surfside