A Potpourri Post: Lizard Update, Beetles and Frustrating Grasses

A Potpourri Post: Lizard Update, Beetles and Frustrating Grasses

With summer in full force in our yard, there’s a variety of subjects on my mind, including missing lizards, mating beetles and even something for plant lovers – so I thought I would provide an update on previous subjects I’ve written about.

Painted Lady: Part of the Circle of Life

I had a number of comments on my article Love in Lizard Land, especially about Painted Lady, the Western Fence Lizard named because we figured she took part in my husband’s painting project, and who lived under our rain barrel. We continued to follow Painted Lady, and her fellow lizards, who we dubbed Speedy and Shorttail as they all vied for the real estate under our rain barrels. She got moved (or moved) to the side of our house, where we would see her sunning herself, a little too lackadaisical we thought.

Several months later, we think this is what happened to Painted Lady, as we haven’t seen her. There’s a bunch of teeny lizards about, so were hoping she got to pass on her genes. Speedy is still with us – or at least a larger, very fast lizard that is taking life more seriously.

Mystery Solved: Figeater Beetles – they’re not pests…

Finally figured out these are Figeater Beetle larva in our compost

Finally figured out these are Figeater Beetle larva in our compost


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Green Fig Beetle or Figeater Beetle

When I’m digging in my compost I find multiples of this larva (left) that I couldn’t identify. Turns out this pretty gross-looking larva turns into this Green Fig Beetle.  The other day we observed a mating ritual — after which the one on the right fell to the ground, but later was gone. And then there have been some long-lived (I assume) dead ones on the ground being eaten by ants.

Figeater Beetles (www.ifnaturecouldtalk.com)

A half dozen figeater beetles gathered on our pepper tree for a few hours of mating.

From a little reading online it seems they are quite innocuous, at least in a backyard setting, as they eat decayed fruit and help break down yard waste. They’re also clumsy in flying, which explains why they sometimes run into you, a trait that certainly drive some people bonkers.

But leave them be – they’re an important part of the ecosystem. Here’s a nice post on them at Mother Nature’s Backyard.

 

Mexican Feathergrass – Drought Tolerant but Invasive

I’ve written previously on invasive plants common in our area of So CA with suggested substitutions. I’m sorry but also glad to add Mexican Feathergrass (Nasella or Stipa tenuissima) to our list. It looked great the first couple years, but then its successful baby sprouts came up everywhere, and the grass seeds jump onto any clothing I had on. So it’s gone, although we’ll likely be pulling tiny ones for a long time.

Why Mexican feather grass is invasive - before you know it we had numerous starts that took over an area

Why Mexican feather grass is invasive – before you know it we had numerous starts that took over an area

For Californians, see this PlantRight website  to locate invasive plants in your area and suggestions for alternatives.  Deergrass and Blue-eyed grass have substituted well for the Mexican Feathergrass although the feathergrass did carry its good looks year-round. For non-Californians see this USDA website to find invasives in your area.

By the way, our drought-tolerant lawn of Blue Grama and Buffalograss continues to do great. We water it at most weekly, and we haven’t mowed it for six months.

 

About Linda Richards

My goal is to educate about the science of nature in layperson speak, through my writing, science and education background. I grew up in the Chicago area, loved living in Minneapolis before gravitating to the West, which is now home.

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