Thursday, August 25, 2016

Flowers and Butterflies

Our garden here in the hot tropics is made lovelier and more alive by the rains. Rains allow nice growths of plants, both for food and ornamentals. This is somehow vague as even the ornamentals are food of other entities in the food chain. I don't normally plant food for humans, except for the fruit trees in our property, but i always plant for flowers with the intention of attracting the butterflies. 

Since July the butterflies and other insects are happy partaking with the food available in our property. The larvae are also happy for the new growths. Nobody in our vicinity applies any pesticide, so pests and diseases are just left there at the mercy of their natural predators. 

I specifically planted this purple Duranta erecta, which i got from a far island province, by plane, bus, jeepneys. Previous to this we only have golden duranta, which doesn't produce much flowers as this. Only one big plant pruned before the rainy season can accommodate all the butterflies, praying mantis and a lot more in its canopy. The above female Common Mormon is just one of the butterflies that converge on it.

The male common mormon is now here sipping from the red Pentas lanceolata. But it wanders on all the flowers in front of our house.

This is a white petunia which just voluntary emerged in one of the pots. We have one plant 2 years ago, maybe one seed didn't germinate for 2 years and succeed this year. I didn't know that petunia seed can last that long in the soil, passing through our harsh dry seasons without totally drying. Unfortunately, it is not attractive to butterflies.

Impatiens balsamina, locally known as kamantigue, was introduced to our garden from some seeds i got from different places. They seed a lot even as annuals, which scattered to the ground and emerge like weeds during the dry season. Last year we have the pink, but it was not able to tolerate the long dry season. Now we only have the purple and white, probably next year the pinks will emerge as new hybrids. The big female Scarlet Mormon sips unabashedly under those leavs, even if the flowers are very near the ground.

The whites are elegant as well. However, i noticed that they are not as attractive to butterflies than the purples. That i cannot understand yet, i only know that yellows are the most attractive for them.

Their flowers are favorites also of butterflies, although the blue banded bees are the most common visitors i see on them.

If the emerging seedlings are not thinned, your grounds will end up like this. I told you they are invasive if allowed. Even the areas outside the garden, under the fruit trees are fully loaded with this cover. The only good thing about them is that they are easily pulled out, a little pressure will get their roots. Unfortunately, we lack time pulling them out.

The only anthurium with us is also flowering continuously on both seasons. However, i haven't seen any insect visiting it, except for a few ants.

Turnera ulmifolia is drought tolerant, and produce lots of seeds too. It is one of the regulars even during our long dry season. It is deeply rooted allowing it to get moisture deeper into the ground. The consequence for us is the difficulty of pulling them off when we don't want the plant anymore, or if they already gets too old and scraggly. Some butterflies and the stingless bees love them too.

The bougainvillea flowers all year round, but growth is more profuse during the rainy season. Some butterflies alight on its flowers too. Can you see the bluish butterfly at the middle, a wanderer Pareronia boebera boebera. It is the only butterfly during last weekend which frequently visits the bougainvillea. Maybe next time i will record the nectar plants preference for specific butterfly species.

Yellow heliconia doesn't have much purpose with us. I haven't seen butterflies on them. Other insects and larvae eat them, but they are not of particular interest for me. They are sold as cutflowers in some shops, used in flower arrangements, but it is not done in our area. Nobody comes around to buy them.

The rainy season induce them to produce more suckers, and they get so invasive. Above shows their density in that area, doesn't look like a part of the garden anymore. At the end of the rainy season, most of them will be cut to lessen their numbers. Can you see the volunteer chili peppers in front? These are the favored chili because of its strong spicy flavor, put in condiments. But we also get the young leaves and tops to put in our stew.

I am not used to go out at night to look for moths on the hoya flowers. But an FB friend inspired me to do the same. With a penlight held in the mouth and camera with the two hands i was able to document some moths on my hoya. Above is a large moth, with wing span of around 2 inches, almost as wide as the diameter of Hoya pubicalyx 'Black Dragon'. A NOCTUID MOTH, Hulodes caranea.

This is another revelation, i just noticed that it has a very long proboscis to suck nectar. I also observed that it can sip even if not alighted on the flower, but staying on air just fluttering its front wings. Hmm i learn a lot from these night shots. The moth is Opthalmis lincea.

Tagetes japitus titus or Common Snow Flat on my Hoya cv Viola. I love them when they alight on my hoyas.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Cat's Businesses

We have a few cats. Neutering is not common here, it is costly and our place is far from the veterinarian in the city who does that. Our cat brood easily increase, so we have several generations. Sometimes other people ask for some kittens, and some die of either disease or maybe snake bites. There are times also when a stray male cat just entere our house and killed whatever kitten he found there. It happened 3 times, and it seemed to know very well when there are newly born kittens. We got so mad of the ambush, but we cannot catch that murderer. It is so dexterous in hiding and escaping. It doesn't eat the newborns though, just kill them. I haven't studied cat culture and psychology, so i am still ignorant.

Our oldest cat, Pusa, already died last month. She is the most responsible mother cat we've known. She was with us for more than 9 years. I don't know if that is a long life for a cat or not, but we surely loved it. She not only fed her own but sometimes also fed her grandkits, whenever her own kit is irresponsible. She has maybe 2 or 3 own kits which are irresponsible mothers. We wished that these irresponsible mothers are the ones who died first. Probably, Pusa raised cat brats! 

Pusa had many kits.  (Older post with Pusa) Denise is the sister of Roxan and Bhong, the last was a male who was lost in kitfancy. The 2 kitsters are both with us. Denise's has a daughter named Nonim (from no name). And Denise is already a grandcat for Baby Nonim, making Pusa the GRAND grand cat. Don't laugh yet for our name creativity. They ran out of names. I will show you some latest hunting finds for the mother-daughter tandem. 

 Can you imagine our disgust in seeing this? We are scared of gecko, but Nonim is not.

 We don't want to get near it, we just watched! 

 Look at that gecko, it is big! 

 After sometime she left, maybe the gecko is already dead. We wondered where she is heading.

Apparently, it went to the other door to show her catch to her kitty, Baby Nonim. Sorry, i wasn't able to take their photo. 

 Baby Nonim is very curious too. If i will allow it, she will run off with my fish.

 She got lessons from her mother, to hunt around and inside the bushes.

She must climb or jump if need be!

Be discreet, hide and jump for the aim! And she is learning fast. 
Look at that stance, ready to pounce. 

Just looking at their play and antics already use up my limited time. I try to ignore them, but they have the habit of always being near you. Baby Nonim is still at playfulness stage, as in making circles playing with its own tail. If this happens, i can't ignore it. I watch it full time.  Now, i must go and tend to my hoyas. 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Probably Ugly Maybe Not

 There are lots of things to find at home or in the garden which are unexpectedly nonconforming. Normally, we do not approve of their form, existence or conditions. But unobtrusively they are just there, results of uncontrollable circumstances. I should have compiled a lot of those things. However, last weekend i seem to be attracted to them, finding them not just singly but sometimes in pairs. I found some of these non-conformance, deviation from the rule and facts of life.

 Hoya imperialis is one of the biggest hoya flowers. As one of my friends said, it looks like an imperial majesty, and i replied that it might have been named such because it gives that impression. It also conveys some mystic aura that is simply amazing. Can you relate to my consternation when i found one of the flowers eaten by something. It looks really pathetic, sick and in pain!

The topmost is the side view and above is the front view of the dilapidated flower. An onlooker can almost feel the expression from this flower. And it is undeniably unpleasant. 

But look at the angle where the torn flower is covered. I guess, just like in any situation in life, we can say that it is just a matter of perspective. Try looking for more angles and the more positive expression will come through. The above flowers are the testimony of such beauty by just changing the angle of perspective. 

 This is a follicle or fruit of the hoya. It is not supposed to be yellow, because it needs to grow more before turning ripe. We can call this occurrence as aborted fruit, abortion in nature. It will not grow to maturity anymore, just drop and die. The seeds are not allowed to grow to fulfill its role in perpetuating the species.

 Another unusual find are these dots, abnormality on the otherwise plain green leaves. These are maybe sucked by some insects when the leaves are still fully green. The wounds tried to heal defensively, and the resulting brown dots are scabs. They are healed now, but the gases emitted by the wounded plant tissues tend to force these organs to yellow, age and fall faster than normal.

Can you see the butterfly? I might not see it too if i am not the one who took the picture! This is an unintentional non-conformance. I have lots of shots. It is a swallowtail which doesn't stop fluttering the front wings while sipping nectar. I wish i can do otherwise as it truly is not a very cooperative subject. It is beautiful as seen in person, i assure you, trust me! This is a Common mormon.

 This is a better one, but still unclear. 

This kitten is not dirty, that is its real color patches. There is a black patch in front of the nostrils, and a long irregular black patch on top.  The black dot on the head is unusually unlikely too!

You might not like this picture because it was inside the guinea pigs cage. We put it there because it has a bad bowel movement, so we isolate it for a while. We let it come out every now and then to play especially at night. That bowl is supposedly for its food. But it feels comforted with that shape to sit on. After that we already put some cloth to keep it warm. We also let the 2 younger kitties inside for its company, and they played and sleep well in the cage.