October 7 2016 Becky Emerson Carlberg Can you just see the faint hints of color the trees and shrubs are beginning to display?   Some of the color may be from the migrating Monarchs that were stopping to tank up at the Yellow Crownbeard flowers along the Arkansas River yesterday (Oct. 8th) in Tulsa. How colorful [...]

October 7 2016

Monarch on Yellow Crownbeard

Becky Emerson Carlberg

Can you just see the faint hints of color the trees and shrubs are beginning to display?   Some of the color may be from the migrating Monarchs that were stopping to tank up at the Yellow Crownbeard flowers along the Arkansas River yesterday (Oct. 8th) in Tulsa. How colorful do you think our autumn will be this year?   Tom Priddy, Agricultural Meteorologist from the University of Kentucky states 'the amount and brilliance of the colors that develop in any particular autumn season are related to weather conditions that occur before and during the time the chlorophyll in the leaves is dwindling.   Temperature and moisture are the main influences..The countless combinations of these two highly variable factors assure that no two autumns can be exactly alike.'

About two inches of rain have fallen the past 2 weeks at my house.   Chances of rain return the second week of October.   The temperatures have stayed on the warm side, but the first week of October saw an autumn dip into the 40's F at night, so will our fall colors take on added splendor?   The best time for color is around Halloween into early November, but in dry years the iffy color comes early and the leaves fall off quickly.   The trees have had it with the year and shut down early for the winter.   If the moisture has been consistent and temperatures moderate, the full color array may arrive very early in November and tend to hang on longer..or until the next storm roars through.

Discover where the leaves will be the prettiest in Oklahoma.   Look at:    http://www.travelok.com/article_page/best-bets-for-oklahoma-fall-foliage

Monarch along the Riverwalk

And now what you have all been waiting forthe update on my funnel spider in the kitchen window.   Her foraging has been less successful now that temperatures are cooling and the bug population is decreasing.   The benign American funnel spider usually lives less than a year.   Despite having 8 eyes, it has poor vision but is very sensitive to tiny vibrations on its dry web and can move incredibly fast in pursuit of intruding insects or spiders. Don't go to Australia in search of funnel spiders.   The tropical funnel makers there have distinct fangs, long spinnerets, and all species are poisonous. They not only lurk at ground level but spin webs dozens of feet high in the trees.

My lady has maintained her web and launched many attacks.   The other day she was terribly upset.   Tampering with nature, I decided to drop in a few delectable morsels to tide her over until other insects ventured by.   When some roly polys presented themselves by the flower pots, I scooped them up and placed them on the web.   Two smaller crustaceans managed to quietly walk away, but the larger one attracted her attention. She ran over to study it, but unfortunately did not understand how clever and heavy the roly poly was nor the minimal tensile strength of her web.   I watched with surprise as the roly poly ate a small hole in the web then dropped straight into the sink drain.   Oops.

A leafhopper that night was my next offering.   It zoomed away.   The small shiny black beetle was not so fortunate.   The spider pounced.   This morning the drained carcass of the beetle was hanging by a silky thread over the sink.   When a daddy longlegs moved on the outdoor screen, I thought this would set her up for a few days.   The harvestman deftly walked up and over the orchid leaves and is now at the top of the window laughing at me.

My Funnel Spider above the Kitchen Windowsill

Why not try the bagworm caterpillar that was crawling down the porch.   I released the fuzzy worm into her web.   She rushed to the caterpillar and dragged it close to her funnel opening.   Score.   All seemed to be going well until I saw brown legs stretching up from behind the web in slow motion.   Soon the rest of the brown recluse came into view and walked across the web toward the caterpillar.   The funnel spider quickly scampered far away, leaving the intruder to snatch and grab the caterpillar. I located the spider and removed it, but the caterpillar was soundly dead.   She would have nothing to do with the tainted larva.   It took hours for the funnel spider to calm down.   Rather than face out toward the kitchen in her usual pose, she repositioned herself and began facing the window; the direction the enemy had come from. Apparently her venom was not in the same league as that of the brown recluse.   Never the less, my spider does daily repairs of her web and continues to wait in hope for food or a guy.   Her biological clock is ticking..