Friday, December 16, 2011

Just in time for Christmas

The Christmas Cactus never fails to disappoint.  Just two weeks ago, I discovered the pot was inundated with water (the decorative wrap around the pot hid this fact from me for weeks), and I was worried the buds would drop off.  But wow, this year was a pretty good year.  No aphids this time (they've found more tender foliage in my other potted plants), but only two new leaves this year.  Even though there are a few buds hanging on, they will not bloom.  If it hasn't bloomed by now, the bud will drop within a couple weeks.

Without new leaves, the plant does seem droopier than prior years.  It happens to the best of us, my friend.

Merry Christmas to all, and may you produce blooms yet another year.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

As thin as a thread

I was in the kitchen doing something, when I noticed something on my hand.

At only about a cm long, I initially thought it was an out-of-season mosquito.  Only upon closer inspection could I tell that it's front legs were arranged somewhat mantis-like.  A miniature preying mantis?  I've never seen a live one in North America.  However, unlike a mantis, it's antennae were as long as its legs.  This particular fellow seemed a bit frail, walking slowly with it's hind four legs, not once stretching out its frazzled wings.
Looking like a cross between a mantis and a fly, I used those as search terms and found photos of actual mantis flies that bore only a slight resemblence to this one. I submitted a photo, an about an hour later the Bugguide volunteers moved to the Thread-legged bugs section.

Much like the preying mantis, the thread-legged bugs walk only on their four hind legs, keeping the front legs poised for catching prey.  Some species specialize in catching spiders (or feasting off the insects caught in the webs).  The native range of this species appears to be properly North America, but I surmised it came in off some vegetables that I was preparing for dinner.  In our recent lower temperatures, there is virtually no winged creature outdoors.