Convergent Lady Beetles are the most common lady beetles in North America and are found all over the continent. Their diet consists mainly of aphids and they’re often used to naturally control the pests. Females lay between 200 and 300 eggs over several months in spring. Though they usually lay their eggs near a source of food, the first hatchlings will often eat unhatched eggs as their first source of energy. When aphids are sparse, they’ll eat honeydew, nectar, pollen, or even the soft petals of plants, but they need to eat aphids to reproduce.
The Northern Mockingbird is the only mockingbird commonly found in North America. It’s known for its ability to mimic other birdsongs and even other animals and artificial noises. The bird eats both fruits and insects and is found in open areas, forest edges, and grassy land. Some are permanent residents but northern birds migrate south during winter. The birds are also very intelligent, able to recognize human faces (specifically, those who have intruded or threatened the birds).
Rain lilies are Zephyranthes, members of the Amaryllis family. The species is native to the Americas and the perennials can tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions, from intense cold to dry deserts. The leaves and bulbs are toxic but other parts of the plants have been examined for medical use. Flower colors range from white to yellow to pink.
The Hackberry Emperor is a brushfooted butterfly that lives near woodland edges, creeks, buildings, and damp, muddy areas. They’re found in northeastern Mexico, as well as the southwestern and eastern United States. Adults don’t usually feast on flowers, instead preferring rotting fruit, tree sap, dung, and animal carcasses (how morbid). The Hackberry Emperor is named after its only host plant (where females lay eggs), the Hackberry tree.
I’ve seen this guy a couple times around the Hilltopper Apartments and finally snapped a picture right outside my back door. The gray fox ranges from southern Canada to Venezuela and Colombia. It used to be the most common fox of America, but human activity has caused its numbers to decrease. It’s also the only American canid that can climb trees. The gray fox is an omnivore, feasting on rabbits, voles, shrews, and birds as well as fruits and vegetables.
Cedar Sage is native to Texas’ Edwards Plateau, where Travis County and Austin are located. Its scientific name, Salvia roemeria, comes from Ferdinand von Roemer who was known as the “father of Texas geology.” They can grow up to one foot in height and width. It’s a perennial and can also go “dormant” during the dry summer months and come back during the rainy fall.
Heard this little guy as I was walking past the library! So glad I spotted him and could take a picture before he flew away. House Finches are native to western North America and most of them don’t migrate unless their springtime home is further north. They love urban and suburban areas, and used to be sold illegally in New York City as “Hollywood Finches.” They eat grains, seeds, berries, and small insects.
We get to share our posts of 10 amazing natural living things and view those of your colleagues. These observations could be made anywhere, but they could be made at Wild basin where we will meet on Saturday, March 4th at 10 am for an orientation. Further instructions can be found on the Citizen Science page in Canvas. This activity could ignite your passion and make you a life-long citizen scientist.
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