Welcome to Our Blog

Hello, friends. This blog is where the El Camino Real Chapter of Texas Master Naturalists shares news, articles, and reflections. You’ll find our posts right under this introduction. We encourage your comments and likes, and of course, shares!

Texas Parks and Wildlife
AgriLife Extension

The Texas Master Naturalist program is sponsored by Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension.

Our chapter meets monthly on the second Thursday of the month in Milano, Texas.

Our Mission: To develop a corps of well-informed volunteers to provide education, outreach, and service dedicated to the beneficial management of natural resources and natural areas within their communities for the State of Texas.

Boopedon gracile: A Photo Essay

by Eric Neubauer

All photos copyright 2020, Eric Neubauer.

Boopedon gracile, the Prairie Boopie

Fact Sheet

• Range is south-central Great Plains into Mexico.
• 26th most commonly observed grasshopper in Texas at iNaturalist.
• Eye oval in shape, less curved in front; dark with fine tan mottling.
• Thin black stripe extends from front of eye, just over and past antenna.
• Female has vestigial wings and is flightless.
• Male has functional wings which usually extend beyond the abdomen.
• Most have black “eyebrow”, curved on top and flattened on bottom.
• Light dorsal stripes on pronotum are parallel toward front rather than pinched, then widening and fading toward back; slight pinching on males.
• Front lateral edge of pronotum usually light.
• Abdomen with black sides appears striped as segments have pale trailing edge. Black may be eroded, especially on females. Top of abdomen is pale.
• Hind femur strongly banded on male
• Outside of femur on female mostly black; back and inside may show banding.
• Hind tibia violet on at least one female; apparently tibiae not colored on instars.
• Female colors tan, green, and black.
• Male colors dark brown, black, and yellowish tan.

The habits of this species aren’t well known. Photos of male abdomen and most instars are lacking here.

More Photos

Female with a lot of green
Female with a little green
Two more examples
Female showing violet tibiae
Left: yellowish female. Right: female with longer wings
Typical males
Typical male
Light male
Youngsters

You are welcome to download this PDF of the photo essay. Click the Download link below.

Reference:

https://idtools.org/id/grasshoppers/factsheet.php?name=17690

Note: Boopedon nubilium is found in western Texas. The male is black. The typical female is mostly pale brown and somewhat similar to B. gracile.

Don’t Bite My Head Off

by Donna Lewis

Earlier this week, I happened to be checking my Martin House poles when I thought I saw something in the netting  around the poles.  I looked closer and there was a female Mantid (Praying Mantis) who had gotten tangled in the netting.

It took me an hour to get her out unharmed.  As soon as she was free she flew onto my arm and proceeded to climb up till she was on my shoulder.  She looked at me with her triangular shaped head and turned her head back and forth.  Kinda neat and creepy at the same time.  I guess we were bonding…

Ms. Mantid

Mantids are a sit-and-wait predator. The females are larger than the males. It is rumored that sometimes if a second male comes near her during mating, well, she just eats the first guy by biting his head off. Maybe that’s where that saying comes from?

They mostly eat other insects or small lizards. They do call to attract a mate, but otherwise are silent. 

She was interesting to say the least, and I guess she was thanking me for saving her, because when she finally flew down to the grass, she started following me.

I finally out-distanced her and everyone went home.

This is a bonus photo of a green lynx spider Donna saw. It’s messing with a butterfly.

Nature is everywhere.  You just have to look.

Would You Eat off a Dirty Plate?

by Donna Lewis

Would you like to eat off a dirty plate? Birds probably will, but it is not safe for them.

So, I bet your feeders are not clean. It’s a nasty job we all hate to do.  Let’s face it, it’s work!

Gotta clean out these seeds that are stuck to the feeder after a rain.

But a dirty bird feeder can transmit Salmonella enterica bacteria. Nasty…

Soap and water is not enough to do the job. Ole faithful…BLEACH is what is needed.

Your necessary cleaning supplies.

1. First, clear all the old seeds out of the feeder.  Use a brush or putty remover because it will be like concrete to remove.

2. Wash the feeder with soap and water, scrubbing it good.  Then dunk it in a bleach/water solution.  A nine to one solution is recommended.

3. Next it must be completely dry before you add any seed again.  Don’t get in a hurry.

Having a few extra feeders helps you rotate them.

Dunking in process. Note the rubber gloves!

4.  Next clean under the feeders. Get rid of the old moldy seeds on the ground. Dispose of them so the birds cannot eat them again. They’re birds, they don’t know any different.

It’s a very good idea to wear rubber gloves while doing this. Birds can transmit some diseases

A good photo instructional to watch is www.wikihow.pet/clean-Birdfeeders.

Have fun…

Water Feature Fun for Beauty, Conservation, and Natural Habitat

by Pamela Neeley

Note from Suna: Pamela Neeley from the El Camino Real chapter has been working with water features on her property for the past few months (years), creating not only areas of beauty (sight and sound), but places for aquatic plants to flourish, and wildlife to sustain themselves on. I toured her property a couple of weeks ago and encouraged her to share some of her ideas and techniques with fellow Master Naturalists. Maybe you can borrow of her creative thoughts some in your own gardens and wild areas!

Here’s another example of a dripping faucet connection caught into a container. Cats and dogs like this one, too.

Summer Madness

by Catherine Johnson

It’s been one and a half years since the Milam Wildscspe  began. My, how it’s grown!

Last year at this time, the Wildscspe was beautiful and neat, and this year it is a beautiful jungle.  Three natives have made it so: Coreopsis, red salvia, and purslane.

Master Naturalists and their families/friends have been pulling these over-enthusiastic residents out. 

Richard Johnson is one of my favorite helpers.

Many creatures thrive in the garden, and there are many free plants still available. 

Customers at Bird and Bee Farm continue to take home brochures, including the recent Predators and Prey of Milam County brochure. 

We are propagating native plants right now, and we’re excited that a huge water fountain and coal car has been donated. 

Thanks go to our volunteers: Donna Lewis, Janice and Richard Johnson, Pamela Neeley, Liz Lewis, Linda Jo Conn, Kim Summers, Gene and Cindy Rek, Rosie, Gary, and Mitch.  

We love our chapter members!

Email me if you would like to volunteer for hours.