May 2020 Archives

Frickin' Frass
May 29, 2020 7:02 PM | Posted in: ,

Re: the post title -- pardon my French. Except in this case, "frass" is actually German.

As long as we're on the subject of disgusting worm-related phenomenon, lately we've been dealing with an infestation of walnut caterpillars on our pecan trees. It's bad enough that they're not abiding by their names -- no one in their right mind would mistake a pecan for a walnut -- but they're also using our back yard as an outhouse. Just look at this photo:

Photo - Caterpillar castings or frass

That's horrible, isn't it. No, wait...I'm not talking about the condition of the deck, which is in obvious need of refinishing. I'm referring to those black specks, which are caterpillar frass, aka castings, aka poop. The caterpillars in our trees are producing generating prolific quantities of frass, to the point where we (and by "we" I obviously mean "Debbie") are having to sweep off the deck several times daily.

You're probably familiar with the book Everyone Poops, and that's obviously true even for insects in most stages of their life cycles. I accept this as a perfectly natural phenomenon, no different than the exhalation of CO2 by mammals during breathing or the squishing of bodily fluids when one steps on a walnut caterpillar who has the poor judgment to temporarily cease pooping and venture down from the tree.

And it's not as though caterpillar excrement has no redeeming qualities. In fact, it (and all of its insect cousins' output) is high in nutrient value for your gardening enterprise. Unsurprisingly, you can buy bags of bug poo from Amazon. I don't want to know the details of how someone manages to fill a bag. (That link leads to a product that is described as containing exudate matter of black fly larvae. So, so dignified, especially if you hear it spoken with a British accent.)

Pestiferous as the prodigious poop production may be, it's more frustrating that we can't spot the exudate actors. The caterpillars are seemingly camouflage experts because we have yet to spot one in the trees.

As with most of these natural phenomena, this too shall pass. In the meantime, while How To Train Your Dragon may be more entertaining, I'd really like for someone to produce How To Housebreak Your Caterpillar. And I'd like to be able to go out on our deck without an umbrella.

Comic about a poop deck. Sorry not sorry.
Yes, poop deck is a real thing. Just not with caterpillars.

I was on our front walkway this morning and noticed what I thought was a really skinny earthworm inching its way across the pavers. Upon closer inspection, I decided it wasn't an earthworm but I had no clue as to what it was. Its distinguishing feature was a flat, paddle-like head with what appeared to be eyes. I know we have worm snakes in this area, although I've never seen one. This didn't look like a snake, but, again, my experience with them is non-existent.

I decided to gently nudge its tail to see its reaction...and to my surprise, it stuck to my finger. I was so shocked that I flung it across the yard where it disappeared in the grass, thereby ensuring I would not be able to identify it.

However, as I continued to inspect the walkway I found several others. I took some photos, then googled "long slender worms with flat heads" and was able to quickly identify the creature as a land planarian, most likely a Bipalium kewense -- and also referred to as a hammerhead flatworm -- which, according to the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension website, is the most frequently found flatworm species in Texas.

They're not pretty critters.

Photo - Land Planarian

They also don't behave in a civilized manner, at least from my perspective, as they prey on earthworms, and not in a delicate fashion: they essentially grab the worm via the sticky mucus that coats their body and begin to digest the living worm. In fairness, they also prey on slugs, so they have at least one redeeming quality. 

Land planarians are not native to the US, having arrived here in some fashion from Southeast Asia many years ago.

Here's a better look at the head, and some interesting (also gross) facts about its anatomy via this website:
The head is usually shaped like a half-moon or arrowhead. There may even be eyespots present but the land planarian does not have actual eyes. Its mouth is located mid-way down the body (on its lower or ventral side) and its mouth also serves as its anus.

Photo - Land Planarian

We don't have a slug problem around here, and we do have a lot of beneficial earthworms, so destruction of the flatworms is a net benefit. However, they are apparently hard to kill. You can chop them up, but the pieces will each regenerate into a new worm. (Flatworms in general are like that, you know.) The recommended method of sending them across the Worm Rainbow Bridge is to spray them with orange oil; furniture polish will suffice.

We did find one source that recommended dropping them into hot water to instantly kill them. I tried that approach, and the flatworm contracted to a fraction of its original size. The photo below is a closeup on the head of the dead flatworm, which I think is lying on its back. I'm guessing that the white splotch further down is that dual-purpose orifice mentioned above.

Photo - Land Planarian

Neither Debbie nor I have ever seen one of these creatures before -- and we're both quite interested in and observant of our natural surroundings -- and so we wondered why they were now appearing in semi-abundance. The recent heavy rainfall might have brought them out of hiding, but more likely they emerged from something we did ourselves.

Yesterday, we (and by "we" I mean Debbie) put down 400 pounds of "Texas Native Enriched Top Soil" in our courtyard which is mere feet away from where the flatworms appeared. We had purchased the topsoil earlier in the day from Home Depot. This is a suspicious "coincidence." The company that manufacturers (can you manufacture dirt?) is based in Cedar Park, TX, about an hour away, but there's no indication on the bag where the soil originates from. Anyway, be advised of the possibility that you might be getting more than just top soil. One of the previously linked websites suggests heat sterilizing any soil brought in from outside, but that is not exactly an elegant solution.

We disposed of four or five more flatworms, and no more appeared so we hope we nipped the invasion in the bud. And we now know more about flatworms than we ever hoped to.

Photo - Empty plastic bag which contained the topsoil
This is a bag that the topsoil was packaged in.

Goose and Gander Grievance
May 20, 2020 11:08 AM | Posted in:

Just playing around with some new software. Well, it's not actually new new; it's an upgrade from a version I bought in 2005, back when they were coding applications (the word "apps" had not yet been invented, even as it applied to chips and salsa at Chili's) with hammer and chisel. I had a powerful hankerin' to make a comic strip, and that's when I discovered that the program would no longer run on my computer, which itself was birthed during the Dark Ages when "IOS" was just the airport code for Ilhéus/Bahia-Jorge Amado Airport in Brazil.

There's a vaguely interesting story behind the comic. As Debbie and I walked across the Bay West bridge, the Egyptian gander (first introduced in these pages here) flew in front of us and landed beside its mate and gosling. Much conversational honking ensued between the couple, with the youngster looking like it wanted to be anywhere but there.

Pretty sure I've correctly translated the Masri - which we all know is the conversational language of Egyptian geese - dialogue into English.

Comic strip - Goose Family

It's only fair to warn you that you'll probably be seeing more of these lame attempts at cartooning in the future. I have to justify the $14.99 upgrade fee somehow.

Comic strip - Goose Family

Actually, this isn't my first foray into the world of comics. Back in the day when I occasionally posted items of political relevance (back when we all hated each other slightly less for having differences of opinion), I poked fun at a couple of situations via a cartoon. See if you remember the relevance of this one:

Comic strip - White House Conversation
Alert Gazette readers will recall that two years ago, I documented my observation of what I was convinced was a beaver swimming in the creek behind our house. I was, unfortunately, unable to provide photographic evidence of the encounter, owing to a combination of my ineptitude and the vagaries of an older phone (but mostly the former). While I was sure of what I saw, almost everyone with whom I shared the story pooh-poohed the idea that there are beavers in our neighborhood, and over time even I began to doubt it, because I never witnessed a reappearance.

The Loch Ness Monster vs. a Texas beaver tail
Fact or Fiction? We report; you decide.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, Debbie and I headed out for a morning run and as we passed the low water crossing, we saw a pickup stopped in the middle and a dark shape moving in front of it and diving into the water. It disappeared too quickly, and we were too far away to make an identification, but it looked suspiciously like a rather large mammal. Could it be...?

When we awoke yesterday morning around 6:30, we could hear the sound of rushing water from the confines of our bedroom, attesting to the vigor of the line of thunderstorms that moved across the area a few hours earlier. I went outside and found almost 2.5" of rain in our gauge, and could catch a glimpse of the creek running over the bridge a half block away. I grabbed my phone and walked down to investigate.

As I approached the creek crossing, I began videoing the scene, focusing on the rushing water coming over the bridge. I then panned to the right of the bridge, where the creek was backed up and overflowing its usual boundaries. The water on that side was as smooth as glass - albeit really muddy glass. As such, any disturbance on the surface of the water was easily spotted. I saw a suspicious ripple moving toward me.

It doesn't take long to learn to discern how different species move through the water. Snakes, as you would expect, create a series of S-shaped ripples when they swim. Turtles rarely swim on the surface, and if they do, only their heads disturb the water. Whatever was moving toward me was no reptile. I kept my phone focused on that object as it came closer. Here's the result.

I was pretty excited, for several reasons. First, it's always cool to be in the right place at the right time and with something in hand to record the event. My phone isn't the optimum tool for such a job, but as they say, the best camera is the one you have with you.

Second, I'm a bit passionate about spotting wildlife (is it obvious?) and especially critters that are rarely seen. I'm continually amazed at the variety of life that we're privileged to co-exist with around here.

And last - but certainly not least - I feel vindicated with respect to that initial sighting in 2018. Take that, you doubters...I'm not insane after all (at least, not in the way you imagine)!

My only regret is a minor one. I do wish I'd had the ability to snap some closeup photos, but given the choice between having a few still pictures and a video like the one above...I'm definitely happy to have the movie.
This is the third in an ongoing series of posts about the fascinating details of nature in our figurative Texas Hill Country back yard. Part 1 is here and Part 2 here.

Sure, birds and [some] reptiles are cute and cuddly, and [most] insects are not, but that doesn't mean that they're not attractive, even when they're a bit scary.

Take the pipevine swallowtail caterpillar, for example. As shown below, it looks like something out of a Tim Burton movie, with those nasty-looking black "horns" and the contrasting orange dots. This one was inching aimlessly around on our driveway, and I had to google it to identify it. But when I discovered its identity, and followed the logical trail to its metamorphosis, I found that it eventually becomes something out of an 1950s Walt Disney animated movie. Drag the yellow bar left to reveal the beauty of the pipevine swallowtail butterfly. Butterfly photo borrowed from this website; uncredited photographer.

I'm not sure I've ever seen a pipevine swallowtail (aka blue swallowtail) IRL, and I don't know much about them. But according to this excellent article, the larvae are distasteful if not downright poisonous to the predators that would feed on them, because they "sequester" acids from the plants they feed on. So their menacing exterior is a warning about their deadly interior.

Photo - Pipevine Swallowtail Caterpillar 'Photo - Pipevine Swallowtail Caterpillar

Speaking of butterflies, here's a photo I originally posted to my Instagram account. The butterfly is a Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia). I did a teensy bit of Photoshopping to make the colors of the butterfly stand out.

Photo - Common Buckeye butterfly
Our lawn isn't really black. As far as you know.

Dragonflies (which are neither dragons nor flies, but then the same sort of misnomer applies to butterflies) are nature's Top Guns. I didn't make that up; someone else did. I just stole borrowed it. Anyway, they look like they're assembled for aggressive action...except maybe for this one:

Photo - Dragonfly on crape myrtlePhoto - Dragonfly on crape myrtle
Anyone know how to reset a dislocated dragonfly shoulder?

I've never seen one with the wings folded forward like this. It was in our back yard, perched on the end of a crape myrtle branch (which I don't think is going to win any awards for blooms this year). It was rather windy, and perhaps the dragonfly was just trying to steady itself in the breeze. I hope it didn't throw anything out of joint.

Let's talk about something else.

Flowers are great, aren't they, especially when they pop up in unexpected places or assume unexpected shapes.

Last week, Debbie and I went on a long walk up (literally; the road rises 100' every mile, on average) the main road through our part of town. The traffic isn't usually heavy because it's essentially a residential street, but on this particular morning, there was a steady stream of cars and trucks going both directions (it's a wide, divided thoroughfare with an equally wide landscaped median so there's little danger to pedestrians). We were puzzled, and wondered if we'd somehow missed an evacuation order related to a gas leak or zombie outbreak. 

After about a mile of walking, we spotted the morning glory shown below just a few yards off the road. It was just the single flower amongst the thick undergrowth of a couple of trees. It was begging to be a photographic subject, so I obliged it. I share all of this only to say that while we stood on the curb, pointing to and discussing the flower, the traffic coming our way slowed to a crawl as curious drivers tried to see what had captured our attention. People will rubberneck at anything.

Photo - Morning Glory
Sometimes, less is more.

Oh, in care you're curious about the unusual volume of traffic, it turns out there was a major traffic accident on Highway 71, a mile or two west of where we were. A section of the highway was closed down for a couple of hours, and the street we were on was the only detour route available to traffic going to or coming from Austin.

There's no particular story behind the next photo; I just like it. It's an emerging agapanthus bloom on a plant in our courtyard. It's taking FOR. EVER. for this this one to fully open. I guess it's confused by our hot-then cold-then hot again weather, and is waiting for things to stabilize. I've got news for you, buddy...this is Texas and it ain't happening.

Photo - Agapanthus bloom about to open
Is this the flowering equivalent to sticking your hand out a window to see if it's raining?

Here's another photo that I find most pleasing. It's the foliage of a Persian Shield (Strobilanthes) that Debbie has planted in a pot on our front porch.

Photo - Foliage on a Persian Shield (Strobilanthes)
This is our tribute to Prince Rogers Nelson (RIP)

I was going to post a photo of the bloom on our aloe vera plant, but it's even slower to actually open up than the agapanthus, so I'll just wait until it does.

Thanks for sticking around for this little nature walk. I'll bet we do another one at some point in the future.
This is the second in a possibly endless series of posts about the fascinating details of nature in our figurative Texas Hill Country back yard. Part 1 is here.

I hope your weather has been as nice as ours over the past few days. Cool mornings and warm afternoons mean that we get to spend a lot of time outdoors, and there's been a lot of interesting flora and fauna to observe (and photograph). With your permission, here's what we've observed.

The turtles that inhabit the creek behind our house are a skittish lot, and tend to dive out of sight at the slightest provocation. So it was a rare pleasure to stand at the back fence and watch this one. This is about as mellow as you'll ever see a turtle get (I'm pretty sure it wasn't dead).

Photo - Turtle floating in creek
Find someone who loves you like this turtle loves floating in a creek.

The stream that runs behind our house is called Pecan Creek, and a couple hundred yards downstream from our place another, smaller creek joins it. I don't know if it has an official name but on Google Maps it's called Dry Branch. Anyway, it runs through a golf course fairway on its way to Pecan Creek, and a small dam creates a small pond on either side of a bridge. Debbie and I run and walk across this bridge on a regular basis and we've been monitoring the activities of a family of Egyptian geese that have taken up residence in these ponds.

When we first noticed them, there was a pair of adults, and two downy goslings sticking close to mom. The next time we passed by, several days later, we were saddened to see only one baby...and the third time, only the adults were out and about. We assumed the worst. But, last Friday we walked across the bridge and were delighted to see that one of the goslings had survived and was growing rapidly. I'm unsure of the goose family dynamic once the progeny mature. For all I know, they go away for a while and they returned to live in their parents' basement and play video games. But it's cool to see them hanging out now.

Photo - Egyptian geese - two adults and a juvenile
Dad keeps watch while mom and kid go grocery shopping.

Speaking of birds -- and downy hatchlings and nestlings in particular -- remember the hawks nesting in the tree next to our house? The wind finally died down enough for me to launch my little drone in an attempt to check on the nest.

Now, you need to understand a few things about this process. While I control most of the flight functions via a set of joysticks on a controller connected wirelessly to the drone, I monitor the video/photo stream via my iPhone. The small size of the phone screen plus the fact that I'm usually flying in bright sunlight means that I can't really make out the details of what the drone is videoing or photographing. So, my technique is to shoot everything everywhere and hope that I get something worth looking at. Sometimes, I get lucky.

Photo - Hawk nestlings
The female hawk is at the upper left, mostly obscured by the tree's foliage.

Photo - Hawk nestlings
Here's a closer look at the nestlings.

I'm no expert, but the baby hawks surely can't be more than a few days old.

Let's shift gears from the avian world to the domain of the reptiles. It's not such a great leap if you believe the scientists in Jurassic Park: birds evolved from dinosaurs, and lizards are nothing but tiny dinos.

I've often featured anoles on these pages, so there's nothing really new to report. I just liked these close-up photos. The first one you see is a male Carolina anole, and if you'll drag the yellow line to the left, you'll see a female of the same species (the zig-zag pattern on the back is the tell).

Photo - Male Carolina anole 'Photo - Female Carolina anole

The female lizard was on an acanthus leaf in our courtyard. I later looked out the window and noticed that she had something in her mouth.

Photo - Female anole
What the heck is she holding in her mouth? Wait...what? Eww...

Alert Gazette readers will recall that I recently wrote about the anole's molting process. What I didn't report on is the tendency of the lizards to eat their own shed skin, which is apparently nutritious, in a gross reptilian fashion. If you look closely at the preceding photo, you can see that she is molting the skin on her head (face?), and the piece she has in her mouth could be the skin that circled her eyes. I'm just guessing here, and she didn't actually end up eating whatever it is, but it makes an interesting, if somewhat unsettling, possibility.

In closing, and as long as we're in the reptile kingdom, here's a photo of a Texas spiny lizard that was sunning itself on our deck. The coloration on this one is a little unusual, as they normally have very distinct dark bands down their back.

Photo - Texas spiny lizard
Perhaps we're not that far removed from
Jurassic Park after all.

That's it for this this edition of Neighborhood Nature. Check back tomorrow as we focus on the insect world, with a couple of floral photos thrown in for variety.
Helium-filled dog lockdown meme

Hello, fellow Gazetteers. I trust that your household pets are thus far avoiding becoming science projects.

I was going to do a long post about how I'm pretty sure I had COVID-19 in the first week of February, as I suffered many of the symptoms that the CDC are now putting forth, but tested negative for both strains of the flu, but I figured that would be boring and possibly inaccurate. But I see that I've done it anyway. Sorry.

But I'm pretty sure I had it. See also: ihadititis

So, I'm in the midst of a couple of fancy DIY projects, where being in the midst of is a euphemism for I'm try to figure out what I've done wrong and how to fix it. (Alert Gazette readers will be surprised not in the least at this situation.)

First is a bicycle-related challenge. A couple of weeks ago, Debbie and I were riding our recumbent tandem through the lovely, wildflower-filled landscape of Horseshoe Bay when to our mortified surprise, we lost most of our braking power on the steepest section of downhill on the route. Fred Flintstone braking badThis is NEVER A GOOD THING, but especially where a sharp turn at the bottom of the hill is at play. Fortunately, we were able to scrape off enough speed through a combination of what little braking power the bike still had plus my emulation of that well-known prehistoric vehicular stopping technique you're no doubt familiar with [insert "braking bad" joke here] to make the corner and eventually return home safely, albeit with elevated heart rates.

After we got home, I determined that we were the victim of a combination of cable stretch (To learn more than you ever wanted about this phenomenon, click here. Or just trust me when I say it's a real thing.) and pad wear on the bike's disk brakes. I normally don't work on life-and-death componentry like handgun safeties, hospital ventilators, and bicycle brakes, but our local bike shop (which isn't all that local, being 30 miles away but I like their work) is temporarily shut down because of you-know-what. If we want to ride safely in the foreseeable future, I'll have to fix this myself. 

I ordered a fourth-hand tool -- it's formally called a cable stretcher but that sounds boring -- and tightened the cables. That fixed the back brake, but the front one is still not grabbing like it should, and I think the solution is to replace the pads. According to the "experts" on YouTube, this is a piece of cake that any third grader could do with one hand full of gummy worms, but, wouldn't you know it, we've run completely out of third graders. So, it's up to me (and YouTube). I ordered a set of pads today, and by this time next week, I'll either report that our brakes are working well, or I've had to order new ultra-grip shoe soles.

The next project has no mortal implications, unless you consider television viewing a necessity for life like air, water, and Chex Mix. I'm attempting to repair a 4K LED TV.

It's a 50" Vizio flat screen that we inherited from Debbie's dad. It's been in the credenza in our bedroom where it primarily broadcasts the morning and evening news. It's not as though we're running low on TVs here at Casa Fire Ant; we've had as many as eight (including the back patio and garage). But Debbie did some research and found that Vizio televisions are actually pretty easy to service. There are four main circuit boards with inscrutable scary names that control the main functions of the device: the Power Supply, the Main Board, the LED Driver, and the T-CON board. Each of these are readily available for purchase via multiple online sources, and they're not all that expensive (certainly collectively much less than the $900 original purchase price for the TV).

Of course, there's a catch. There always is. In this case, you have to diagnose the problem to know how to fix it. Unfortunately (for me), this requires a bit of expertise and -- let's just say it -- luck, because some symptoms could arise from problems with more than one of the aforementioned circuit boards. So, we took a chance and picked the most likely board: the power supply, because the set wasn't turning on. Debbie put in an order for one and when it arrived yesterday, I endeavored to install it.

It's a fairly straightforward procedure, theoretically, in the sense that a brain transplant is a simple matter of cutting open the skull, removing the brain, and dropping a new one in.

The skull opening was the hard part. There are precisely 27 screws of varying sizes attaching the back of the TV to the frame. I managed to remove 26 of them without drama, and then I stripped the head of the 27th. Now, I have special tools for extracting screws with stripped heads -- you're not surprised, are you? -- but they're designed for much larger fasteners than the 1/16" wide screw head I was dealing with. I won't bore you with the details, but it took significantly more time (and tools, and vocabulary) to remove that last screw than the preceding twenty-six. But I was finally able to expose the mysterious inner workings.

The yellow borders show the circuit boards that can be replaced. Theoretically. And, no, I can't tell you what any of them do. Sufficiently advanced technology ≈ magic and all that.

Photo - inside of a Vizio LED TV
Doesn't every well-appointed electronics repair center have stylish throw pillows?

The biggest board shown in the photo is the power supply and it actually was very easy to replace. I did that and [carefully...very carefully] reattached the back cover of the TV. Did I mention there are 27 screws, one of which has been brutalized? I plugged the power cord into the wall, waited for it to reboot (what? you didn't know your TV could reboot?) and -- voila! -- 


My reaction was mild. This was no surprise; this was par for the course; this is my lot in life. I did eventually remove the back cover again ('s a shock...I managed to strip another screw head in the process, so at least the first disfigured member has a friend now) just to make sure I didn't miss a connection. I didn't. That would have been too easy.

At this point, I would normally give up, realizing I'm out of my depth, which is measured in millimeters at best. But after pricing the additional boards, I realized that there was still a chance of repairing it for a fraction of what a new one would cost, so I ordered the three remaining components. I'll let you know how that works out, as if we don't already know *wink, wink, sigh*.

In closing, I you're sure to appreciate the sheer artistry of the following image, which is a frame from a 28-minute video I made of the inside of my pocket during our walk this morning. I'm saving the actual video for the 96th days of lock down, when it's sure to compete favorably with anything on TV...especially if your TV is a busted 50" Vizio.

Photo - oh, never mind
I was on our deck before breakfast yesterday and noticed an anole on the railing. This is not an unusual occurrence; we're practically overrun with them. But there was something different about this one. I got closer and immediately recognized what was going on: the lizard was in the process of molting, and had pieces of shed skin clinging to its head.

All reptiles go through a similar process as they grow. Snakes shed their entire skins at one time. Turtles and alligators shed their plates and scales, respectively, one at a time. Lizards molt their skin a section or piece at a time.

They're a little lethargic when they're molting and I was able to get within a few inches of this one before it tired of my company and jumped off the deck into the liriope below. I thought no more about it (other than regretting that I didn't have a camera with me) and went inside for breakfast.

Later, about midway through breakfast, something on the deck caught my eye. I couldn't tell for sure, but it looked like a lizard was eating something. This time, I did have my phone handy.

Photo - two anoles
It was hard to make out exactly what was going on from a distance.

I got a little closer, and the situation was clarified. Two anoles -- one brown and one green -- were fighting, and one had gained a definite advantage.

Photo - two anoles
The green anole had the brown one gripped by the throat.

Green or Carolina anoles (Anolis carolinensis) and brown or Bahaman anoles (Anolis sagrei) are separate species. The former is native to the US; the latter is not, but has gained a fairly wide foothold in the States over the years. And, apparently, they don't get along well with each other. But, it's not really a racial thing...male anoles are quite territorial and they will aggressively defend their domain against every perceived interloper. In this case, El Verde apparently got the jump on El Café.

I got closer...

Photo - two anoles
The green one looked familiar.

Since anoles can change color, one might wonder if these are both of the same species. The greenies can turn a shade of brown, but the brown ones never turn green...only different shades of brown. I also suspect (it's just a guess, however) that during stressful times like this, their "natural" colors persist. Whether that's true or not, if you look closely at the back of the neck of the brown one, you'll see the dorsal flap which is an indication that this is indeed a different species from the green one.

From this vantage point, I could see that El Café was still breathing, albeit very slowly. El Verde acknowledged my presence by dragging his adversary a few inches, but he was loathe to release him.

Photo - two anoles
El Verde was molting...note the loose skin patches on his head.

The green anole was the same one I saw earlier on the deck railing. His territoriality trumped his lethargy as he assertively defended his borders (one wonders how they might be laid out).

Now, I have no great issues with the life-and-death realities of nature, but I kinda like the idea of having two competing species hanging around the premises. Since the brown one was still alive, I took matters into my own index finger and gently flicked the tail of El Verde. He relaxed his Jaws of Death, and to my surprise, both lizards sprang away, in opposite directions of course. El Café showed no apparent residual deleterious effects, living, I suppose, to fight another day.

I imagine them smack-talking to each other across the deck, perhaps in voices reminiscent of Inigo Montoya: until we meet again, mi amigo, enjoy your life, as it will be shorter than you wish.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from May 2020 listed from newest to oldest.

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