Thursday, October 4, 2018

The Queen of Monarch Butterfly Mimics

I have written several blog posts about monarch butterflies and have pictured queen butterflies in a couple of posts. (You can use the search box at the right to find them.) However I don't think I have discussed monarch butterfly mimics before. There are two butterfly species that mimic the monarch butterfly. It is thought that doing this affords them some protection from predators since birds generally leave monarch butterflies alone because they taste bad from feeding on milkweed as caterpillars. The two mimics are the viceroy butterfly and the queen butterfly. Viceroys are supposed to be in my area but I only recall having seen queen butterflies along with monarch butterflies. You can see one of each feeding on the same blue mist flower in the first photo. The queen butterfly is on the left with the monarch on the right side of the photo.

Until this week I did not realize that the queen butterfly caterpillar also mimics the monarch butterfly caterpillar. I was excited when I saw a small yellow, black and white banded caterpillar munching on a new milkweed shoot so I grabbed my camera to record it. While I was taking its picture, I was thinking that something seemed a bit off though from what I remembered monarch caterpillars looked like. My hunch was correct when I compared my images to those of monarch caterpillars, so now I had a mystery caterpillar eating milkweed that looked similar to a monarch caterpillar. What was it? I found out that it is a queen caterpillar. Queens have one more set of "horns", three instead of two to be exact, than monarch caterpillars. The monarch's are at each end, while the queen has an extra set near its midsection. While doing my research I also discovered that their chrysalises are almost identical. The queen's is a bit smaller and can take on a bit of a pink hue but unless they were side by side, I'm not sure I could ID which one I was looking at.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Customizable Owl Earrings

These delightful filigree owl antique brass tone charm earrings are a great fall fashion accessory. You can personalize them by choosing the color of the central crystal bead of the dangle below the owl charm. Pick your birthstone, a favorite color or a shade to match a particular outfit.

These charming earrings are available in my EDCCollective Etsy shop. The pair of earrings pictured sport the color of November's birthstone, topaz or citrine. The crystal colors that I use to represent the other months' birthstones are shown in the chart. The dangle will be made with the beads shown on the golden wire. I do have a few additional crystal color choices. Please contact me if you don't see the color you would like to customize your owl earrings with.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Eclectic Design Choices Artwork Included in GPAC 2018 Juried Art Show and Sale

I delivered my entries to the Uptown Theater in Downtown Grand Prairie earlier today. The foyer of the theater will be home to more than 125 pieces of art from 58 regional artists. It will be open to the public beginning with the reception for the show on Sunday, September 23 from 2-4pm. If you are unable to attend the reception for the Grand Prairie Arts Council 2018 Annual Juried Show and Sale, you can view the art in the lobby of the Uptown Theater until the artists remove their work beginning at 10 am Saturday, October 20.


My triptych of moonlight on the waters around the Galapagos Islands is one of my three accepted pieces.

Update 9/23/18: The piece I shared above won third in the photography category. To see the other pieces I entered, check out my awards tab.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Mushrooms and Fungus Respond to Rains in Abundance

North Texas was back into extreme drought until a few of weeks ago when we got a couple of inches or rain. Then this past week my rain gauge has measured over 6 inches of rain, much of that coming in two separate gully washers. The dormant mushroom mycelium rejoiced and sprung into action. I was amazed at the variety of mushrooms in the mulched beds along Front Street in Downtown Arlington. I took a few of the following pictures in my mulched front flower bed. The mushrooms have been quick to grow and produce more spores to release across the landscape to wait for suitable conditions to grow another generation.















Yes, that is a lot of mushroom pictures but I had trouble pairing down the ones I took any further. There was such a great variety. Some of the pictures are of the same type of mushrooms at different stages but there are quite a few different mushrooms represented. If you can name any of them, I would appreciate it if you would share their names in the comments. The image below is one that spoke to me so that I created a piece of photographic art from it. (The altered image is the one shown below.)

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

New Picture Jasper Earrings

It is not uncommon for me to go to a trade show and pick up some gemstones in interesting shapes or colors that I am eager to make something out of. Unfortunately the time I have to create never seems to match the number of projects I have grabbed goodies for. This has been true for some teardrop shapes made out of a few different gemstones that I have been meaning to make earrings out of. Fairly recently I finally carved out some time to design two new pair of picture jasper earrings that incorporated some of these teardrops.

The first thing I did was to unstring all of the picture jasper teardrops and see what I had that I thought paired up well. I found two pair that I wanted to start with. I then pulled out my other picture jasper strands in various shapes and sizes and picked beads that had similar color and character to each teardrop pair. Antiqued brass plated findings complemented the darker teardrops while I thought gold plated findings worked better with the lighter colored ones. I made jointed dangle earrings out of each matched pair of teardrop picture jasper beads. They are currently listed in my EDCCollective Etsy shop in my earrings section.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

First Monarch Siting of the 2018 Fall Migration

Yesterday (Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018) I saw my first monarch butterfly of the fall migration. My blue mistflower had recently started to bloom and that is what the monarch landed on. It stayed around drinking nectar for some time. It is amazing how a butterfly that covers so much territory can find and fuel up on a small backyard planting. Don't feel that you can't contribute to helping save these beautiful orange and black butterflies. A few monarch friendly plants tucked into your garden will make a difference.

In addition to mistflower, I have let some native late flowering boneset hang out in my garden after they showed up one year. Monarchs and many other pollinators fuel up on this plant. Since I added the mistflower, the monarch butterflies do
seem to have a preference for it over the boneset. This first fall migrator definitely did and got its fill on the mistflower before heading on its way. I have taken some nice pictures of monarchs feeding on late flowering boneset as well as lantana and small sunflowers so don't feel you are restricted to one plant to create a fueling station for these butterflies.

Both photos in this post were taken yesterday. The honeybee was enjoying the late flowering boneset, even if the monarch wasn't. (Click the images to see a larger view.)

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Fall Gallery Night at BRIT 2018

My artwork will be back at BRIT in Sept. Instead of being part of a gallery exhibit as a few pieces were earlier this year, I will have a full compliment of my photographic art with me for an invitation only reception on Friday, September 7, 2018 and as part of FWADA Fall Gallery Night at BRIT on Saturday, September 8. BRIT will be open to the public on Sept. 8 from 4-9pm. You will find me and my artwork (matted prints, note cards, coasters, ready to hang artwork and more) along with about ten other artisans and their creations in atrium II as part of the pop-up artisan market. There will also be a new exhibit in their gallery space and welcome center as well a pop-up exhibit by the Fort Worth Art Collective.