Thursday, May 29, 2014

Diamondback Terrapin

Texas diamondback terrapin, Malaclemys terrapin littoralis
Diamondback terrapins live exclusively in brackish saltwater marshes, coastal bays, and lagoons, and are the only turtle found in estuaries and tidal creeks where salinity is similar to that of the ocean. Found along the eastern and southern coast of the United States, from Massachusetts to Texas, their carnivorous diet includes snails, mussels, clams, and barnacles. Their shell length can reach up to 14 cm (5.5 in) on males and 22 cm (9 in) on females. They are not sea turtles, even though they can be mistaken for it due to their strongly webbed feet, but they do face similar threats including crab pot drownings, habitat loss, nest predation, and boat strikes. In the past, diamondback terrapins had the additional threat of being the preferred ingredient in turtle soup. Unregulated hunting resulted in near extinction. The soup fell out of favor during Prohibition as wine, a key ingredient to the soup, became illegal to possess. Their numbers have since vastly improved, and they are protect by law in most states from collection and possession.

The above diamondback terrapin resides at the Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary after legal rescue and transfer by a Texas game warden. It is on display under the education display permit EDU-0609-114 from Texas Parks and Wildlife. It is illegal to hold any native wildlife in the state of Texas (or native bird in the United States) without a proper permit.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Bluestem Prickly Poppy

Bluestem Prickly Poppy, Argemone albiflora
Also known as white prickly poppy, bluestem prickly poppy is a native of the south and southeastern portions of the United States, but has escaped cultivation and spread northward. The annual can reach heights of up to 2 m (6 ft) with a large, white bloom present from March until July. In addition to the prickly leaves and stem, the plant contains an irritating white juice that dries to a yellow latex.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Chocolate Flower

Chocolate Daisy, Berlandiera lyrata
The common name lyreleaf greeneyes comes from the center disk resembling a green eye when the petals fall off the daisy. The much more common name, chocolate daisy or chocolate flower, comes from the scent given off by these flowers. A native to the south and southwestern portions of the United States as well as northern Mexico, the chocolate daisy is a perennial that may grow close to 60 cm (24 in) in moist, well-drained soils of sun or partial shade. In areas that are frost free, chocolate daisies will bloom all year round, but will otherwise continually bloom from April until October. The petals curl in the hot afternoon sun, but expand and fill the air with the smell of chocolate in the morning. The flowers have been used as seasoning, and the stamen have the flavor of unsweetened chocolate.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

White Gaura

"Whirling Butterflies" White Gaura, Oenothera lindheimeri (formerly Gaura lindheimeri)
Also known as Lindheimer's bee blossom, wand flower, and butterfly gaura, white gaura is a native upright perennial found in Louisiana, Texas, and Mexico. It blooms from April until July along pond edges, in pinelands, and within prairies. It has since be cultivated into a number of varieties with varying flower colors. It prefers sun to part shade with moist, though variable, soil. Although sought for the beautiful flowers, the fragrance of the flowers has sometimes been compared to cat urine.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

White Poppy Mallow

White Poppy Mallow, Callirhoe involucrata var. lineariloba
Also known as white winecup, white poppy mallow is a native winecup variation. It can be found throughout the Great Plains, most often in open grasslands. Poppy mallow is tolerant of sand, loam, clay, and limestone soils and bloom throughout Spring. They provide as a source of nectar for various bees and butterflies including hairstreak butterflies.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Black Carpenter Ant

Black Carpenter Ant, Camponotus pennsylvanicus
No new informative post for today, but enjoy this lovely photo of a black carpenter ant until next time.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

False Bombardier Beetle

False Bombardier Beetle, Galerita sp.
False bombardier beetles can be found throughout the world with the exception of Australia. Their prey includes other invertebrates, particularly caterpillars. During the day, they often hide under stones and leaves. Although not a true bombardier beetle, the false bombardier still has a remarkable chemical defense system. It has a spray consisting of formic acid, acetic acid, and lipophilic components. The glands can store up to 4.5 mg of the foul mixture to accurately spray at an assailant.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Texas Brown Snake

Texas Brown Snake, Storeria dekayi texana
Texas Brown Snakes, as mentioned before, are a subspecies of brown snake. While their diet includes earthworms and slugs, snails are a primary component of their diet. They have been observed twisting snails out of their sometimes wedged shells to consume. With such a diet preference, it is not uncommon to come across these non-venomous snakes while gardening.