Lots of Hummers

by Donna Lewis

So we have tons of hummingbirds here in Milam County right now. I have predominantly Ruby-throated hummers,  Archilochus colubris. They love many of our native flowers, which you should provide if you want a lot of them to visit you.   

The nectar feeders are great, but should not be their only source of food. Some of our native Texas plants that they like are;  Flame Acanthus, Coral Honeysuckle, Red Yucca, Turk’s Cap, Zinnias, Autumn Sage, Morning Glory, and many other nectar plants.

I took these photos of the hummingbirds through the window on my front porch. If they see motion they take off, so I have to be slow.  I have two more feeders in my garden. I like the flat feeder you see in the first photo the best. It is easy to clean.

Hummingbirds also need protein, so they eat caterpillars, spiders and other insects. A big hunk of watermelon set out can sometimes lure them to its nectar. That’s, of course, if I can give it up.

Water is another important resource they need. Put out a sprinkler near a fence or perching area in late afternoon and everybody’s up for a bath!

The other species that are here in Central Texas is the Black-chin Hummingbird. It’s hard to tell them apart, especially if you do not have the sun shining on the male’s throat. Beautiful and fiesty little birds, gotta love them.

Bright Green Spider: Wear Goggles if You Get Close!

by Donna Lewis

So, while walking along our back fence, I see this brilliant green spider on a fence post.

All the other posts were taken by pairs of grasshoppers. Love is in the air.

Suna got to watch these differential grasshoppers show their love on her rocking chair.

I did not know what the spider was, which is why I got really close with my camera to take this photo.    After I sent the photo to my go-to specialists, Eric Neubauer and Linda Jo Conn, I learned that it was a Green Lynx Spider, common in our area.

I also learned that when a female is guarding her 600 green eggs, she can squirt some venom about one foot away!  Wow I won’t get so close again. It was beginner’s luck that I didn’t get venom in my face!

This spider is a hunter. It goes after prey, while some spiders weave their webs to catch their prey. It loves moths and bees and most insects.

Lately we have seen more spiders in our house, just not one of this kind. I know what you are thinking, does she kill them? I actually do try to catch and release. Sometimes I can’t, but I try. Everything has a purpose.

Gulf Fritillary Arriving on Planet Earth

by Donna Lewis

On the morning of September 4, 2021, I got to witness a miracle. 

 On our front porch, a new Gulf Coast Fritillary butterfly hatched. After a few hours it had pumped its wings up and was waiting to dry enough so it could take its place among the other pollinators that are here in Milam County.  What a neat way to start the day.   

New life!

We will need many more of these and other pollinators to help feed the world, and provide beauty for all of us.

Passion flower

The Gulf Fritillary uses the passion vine for its host plant. The female will lay her tiny eggs in the tendrils of the vine. When they hatch, they will eat the leaves and buds until they are ready to go to sleep in a chrysalis and awaken to become the beautiful butterfly we know.

Orange and silver, they are easily recognized. The new butterfly will spend its winters in the most Southern states and in Mexico. It can not survive freezing weather.

While the passion vine is its host plant many of our common summer plants are its nectar choices: butterfly bush, coneflowers, lantana, zinnias, and salvia to name a few.

On a zinnia

So enjoy them while the weather is warm.

I Want to Get Away

by Catherine Johnson

Linda Jo Conn’s Let’s Get Outside activity for our Chapter is a respite for some — more to get away than to get outside.

Desert willow

We recently met at the Master Gardeners’ demonstration garden in Cameron and identified plants and wildlife. 

Beauty berry

The garden is kept up very nicely, and there were lots of butterflies and hummingbirds.

Under the gazebo we made plans for future events and learned more of the world around us. 

Then it got hot. Kim and I said goodbye to Linda Jo, Pamela, and Jackie T.  and finished our big day relaxing in the air conditioning at Texas Burger.

Frog and Toad Research on My Property

by Donna Lewis


We just received the results from an acoustic monitoring event that was performed by Dr. Paul Crump, a biologist from the Texas Park and Wildlife Department. He is a Herpetologist in the Nongame and Rare Species Program.

First of all he was checking out Milam County to look for the Houston toad. This toad was recorded in this county years ago, but not found here in the past few years.

Attaching the song meter

It was really interesting to see how this survey was done. Dr. Crump placed a recording box to a tree near our small pond at the back of our property. It is called a song meter and recorded two hours of audio every night from January 28, 2021 until June 12, 2021.

Then Dr. Trump retrieved the box and took it with him where he had the tedious job of listening to hundreds of hours of frogs and toads singing, so he could identify each species. Wow what a task! You really have to know your stuff to do it.

Song meter at work

Sadly there were no songs of the Houston toad recorded, but he did identify seven different frogs and toads! I did not know we had that many on our property. Very neat.

I hope this report does not make its way to the snakes that live near me. They will be arriving here pretty fast for lunch. I have learned more about these creatures by looking up each one of them. Thanks to Dr. Paul Crump.