May 26th, 2008

woods, Elizabeth, camera, April

Lizard sex and other life on the small side

In warm weather, the geckos gather on the outside of our window-screens at night to catch their dinners--moths, small beetles, the occasional praying mantis (some praying mantises, the big ones, stalk the lizards.)  As I see them from underneath on the screen, it's easy to see eggs in the pregnant females, but until last night I'd never seen the entire courtship-and-mating ritual.  It began with the male grabbing a female by the hind leg, and ended as you'd expect, though the details were both reptilian and related to the setting (both clinging to the vertical window-screen.   You'd have thought they'd go find a cozy rendezvous on the horizontal someplace, but no--they did just fine where they were.

Meanwhile the other geckos on the screen were much more interested in their own dinners than the details of pair bonding, a stink bug on the screen clambered slowly about also ignored by the geckos,

Indoors, the evening's entertainment (if you want to call it that) was provided by large cockroaches, the kind that fly.  Some parts of the year, they live outside, but when it's too cold or too hot or too wet or too dry, they want in--and in this old house there are ways in for something that can flatten itself to paper thinness and climb anything. And did I mention flying?   We have responded with chemical warfare, which does eventually deal with the insiders, but at the cost of making them very active for a night or so.  (And no, the fabled osage orange or bodark fruit does not work...it merely rots and stinks and becomes covered with small beetles and ants, while the cockroaches scuttle around merrily.)   Last night was an active night.  I got little sleep.

Outdoors in daytime, we have the green anoles, one of whom is staring in the window at me at the moment from its favorite tree trunk, and popping its throat-fan (bright red-pink, hibiscus colored) at me.  Wasps and carpenter bees would also like a way into the house, and haunt the eaves and doorways.   We have many wasp species, several of whom regularly build nests right by the door, and then are annoyed when we open and shut it.   The doorway nests are the only ones we remove, being dive-bombed by the little paper wasps when you've got both arms full of groceries is not one of life's joys.   They're good predators  of webworm caterpillars, which otherwise damage our pecan trees, so we leave any nest that's not causing us grief.

While visiting BugGuide.net earlier today, I discovered that the little blobs hanging from hairlike strands in the woods may not be stuff caught in a damaged spider web, but the cocoons of ichneumid wasps.  So I have something else tiny and unknown to look for...