While checking out the native garden today I saw these two strange critters on a dried up California Delta sunflower. It turns out we are blessed - they are the larva of the Asian ladybeetle, aka harlequin, multicolored Asian ladybeetle Harmonia axyridis . It's so interesting that the larva is almost three times the size of the adult ladybeetle. The adults vary in color from orange to red, with anywhere from zero to twenty-two spots. And they gobble up the aphids, so we're gl
You just never know which of the plants that went dormant starting in the Fall are going to actually grow again. And I am pleasantly surprised by what we're seeing in the garden. In the above photo the dahlia Bishop's Children plant is waking up in its pot. I had never planted dahlias before or knew how to properly store or keep them protected during the winter months. So once the plant dried up, I cut all the stems down to the base of the plant and then covered the nubs with
The Tricolored or Bird's- Eye Gilia blossoms are attracting all kinds of bees, and it is such a treat to observe the bees as they collect the distinctive blue pollen from the blossoms. Here, for example, is a mining bee genus Andrena, of which there are approximately 261 species in California. These are soil nesting bees, and are some of the first to fly in the Spring. Look at all that blue pollen in the bee's basket. Approaching a cluster of tricolor gilia blossoms..... ....
I just love the umber skippers Poanes melane. They appear in the garden in March and are around until late October. The image above I took from an unusual angle. Look at the skipper's proboscis as it sips nectar from the Siskiyou Wooly Sunflower blossom Eriophyllum lanatum 'Siskiyou'. And what timing - see the tiny insect flying to the right of the skipper. I didn't even notice the insect until I enlarged this shot.
The Spring weather is producing more food sources for the pollinators. And I never tire of observing bee behavior. Above is a honey bee getting nectar from the ground cover flowers. Note the yellow pollen covering its back leg and sprinkled on the sides of its abdomen. Another bee is getting pollen from a tricolor or bird's eye gilia blossom. The pollen is bright blue! This honey bee is climbing along the edge of a naked buckwheat Eriogonum nudum leaf. Moments before it was
Ah, those rascal crows. A large group of them are a constant sight on the wires and cables above the sidewalk in front of our house. They hang out there because our next door neighbor feeds them several times a day, and observe me working in the garden every weekend. These birds make very interesting sounds. Aside from the usual "caws" they sometimes chortle and seem to mimic dogs and babies. They also bring me gifts, now and then. Yesterday while working in the garden I hear
Plants are responding well to all of the Spring rain, producing the beautiful colorful blooms of the season. Above is an image of the California poppy "Apricot Chiffon" plant producing lovely blossoms for the second year. I'm so happy to see the plant blooming again. Better yet would be if it reseeded and more of this particular poppy would grow in the native garden. Both Coreopsis Grandiflora Sunburst plants are looking great. They are planted in opposite corners of the nati
Moments before I took this photo, this flower fly tried to chase away a yellow-faced bumble bee from the California alba poppy. But the yellow-faced bumble bee triumphed and got to the pollen first. As soon as the bumble bee flew to another area of the garden, the flower fly had its chance in the poppy.
The lovely White California Poppies "Alba" that I planted last year are lush again after winter and spring rains. They are such lovely blossoms, appreciated by the bees as well. And here are two yellow-faced bumble bees collecting pollen from the poppies. Here is a shot from above the bee. Look at those bright orange pollen baskets. And you can see its left antenna. You can see the pollen flying out of the poppy as the bumble bee buzzes it out.
The California poppies are blooming in full force now and the bees are having a great time in the poppy patches. In the image above see how the yellow-faced bumble bee is flying just above the orange California poppies. I observe these bumble bees when it is sunny, as they fly from poppy to poppy, rolling in the pollen. These California poppies are growing from the same plants that sprouted from seeds I strew on the ground last year. I have now learned that the poppy plants a