2022 · Days of The Week · Wildlife Wednesday

Queen Butterfly (Danaus gilippus)

Queen

The Queen butterfly (Danaus gilippus) is a North and South American butterfly in the family Nymphalidae with a wingspan of 318 – 338 inches (80 – 85 millimeters). It is orange or brown with black wing borders and small white forewing spots on its dorsal wing surface, and reddish ventral wing surface fairly similar to the dorsal surface. The ventral hindwings have black veins and small white spots in a black border. The male has black androconial scent patch on its dorsal hindwings. It can be found in meadows, fields, marshes, deserts, and at the edges of forests.

This species is possibly a close relative to the similarly colored soldier butterfly (or tropical queen, D. eresimus), in any case, it is not close to the plain tiger (D. chrysippus, African queen) as was long believed. There are seven subspecies.

Females lay one egg at a time on larval host plants. Larvae use these plants as a food source, whereas adult butterflies feed mainly on nectar from flowers. Unpalatability to avian predators is a feature of the butterfly; however, its level is highly variable. Unpalatability is correlated with the level of cardenolides obtained via the larval diet, but other compounds like alkaloids also play a part in promoting distastefulness.

Males patrol to search for females, who may mate up to 15 times a day. Male organs called hair-pencils play an important role in courtship, with males with lower hair-pencil counts being selected against. These hair-pencils may be involved in releasing pheromones during courtship that could attract female mates.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen_(butterfly)

2022 · Days of The Week · Florida · My Travel Journal · Travel Tuesday · USA

Epcot® International Flower & Garden Festival & Akershus Royal Banquet Hall ~ Walt Disney World, Florida 2011

The following day, we made a trip to EPCOT to enjoy lunch with the Disney Princesses in Norway. There I wanted to see if Sara likes some fish. She dug into the fish and vegetables like her life depends on them. When the Disney Princesses came to our table, Katelynn and Rylee were ready for photos. Sara on the other hand rather enjoyed her meal.

After lunch, we walked around in the park. At that time of the year, Disney has the Epcot® International Flower & Garden Festival. A lot of Disney characters with wonderful flowers are on Display. Sara was tired; Katelynn and Rylee wanted to go into the Resort’s pool. So, we made our way back to the room to rest and change into bathing suites. The girls had a blast at the pool.

… to be continued …

2022 · Days of The Week · Throwback Thursday

Hiking At The Colony Shoreline Trail, Texas ~ September 2013

In 2013, one September morning I began my hike I began from the other end of The Colony Shoreline Trail. From there I could get much closer to the lake and saw a lot of wildlife along the way. In the mornings it is warm, but not hot like in the late afternoons in those Texas Summers. So, I got the chance to observe a couple of Turkey Vultures and a Great Blue Heron looking for fish in the lake. I also saw some dragonflies, skippers, little fishes, a Mourning Dove, an Eastern Cottontail Rabbit, a couple of Fox Squirrels, and a Question Mark Butterfly. Yep, the Shoreline Trail was busy. It was a nice photo hike.

2022 · Days of The Week · Wildlife Wednesday

Southwestern Fence Lizard (Sceloporus cowlesi)

Southwestern Fence Lizard in Blue Mesa, Arizona

The Southwestern Fence Lizard (Sceloporus cowlesi), also known as Cowles’ prairie lizard, the White Sands prairie lizard, or the White Sands swift, is a species of spiny lizard in the family Iguanidae. The species is native to the Chihuahuan Desert of the southwestern United States and northcentral Mexico. Originally described in 1956 as Sceloporus undulatus cowlesi, a subspecies of the eastern fence lizard, subsequent DNA studies elevated the southwestern fence lizard to species status. The specific name, cowlesi, is in honor of American herpetologist Raymond Bridgman Cowles.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southwestern_fence_lizard

2022 · Days of The Week · Florida · My Travel Journal · Travel Tuesday · USA

“Disney’s Electrical” Parade & “Wishes: A Magical Gathering of Disney Dreams” Firework In Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Florida 2011

In the late evening, we stayed in the park to see Disney’s Electrical Parade. The Electrical Parade is a nighttime parade, created by Robert Jani and project director Ron Miziker. It features floats and live performers covered in over 600,000 electronically controlled LED lights, and uses a synchronized soundtrack triggered by radio control along key areas of the parade route.

The show was hosted by Jiminy Cricket, the Blue Fairy, and revolved around the wishes of famous Disney characters – good and bad. The lights on Cinderella Castle changed colors throughout the show, reflecting the different stages of Wishes’ narrative. During different parts of the show, a “wishing star” firework was shot, cresting approximately 100 feet above the castle’s bright spires. While most of the characters in the show are only heard as part of the show’s music track, Wishes also featured an appearance from Tinker Bell as she flew from the tallest spire of Cinderella Castle. Wishes included 683 fireworks, that fired during the 557 cues.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wishes:_A_Magical_Gathering_of_Disney_Dreams

After the fireworks, we called it a day. It was a long day in Disney’s Magic Kingdom. We still had to wait for our turn to get to the bus which took us to the resort. The kids had a long day and almost fell asleep on the way. Kevin, Kristine, and I were tired as well. It was time to rest for another eventful day at Walt Disney World.

… to be continued …

2022 · Days of The Week · My Travel Journal · Texas · Throwback Thursday · USA

Hiking In Isle Du Bois State Park At Lake Ray Roberts ~ Texas 2013

In September 2013, Sara and I took a little trip to Isle Du Bois State Park at Lake Ray Roberts, which is just north of Lake Lewisville in North Texas. Sara and I watched the fisherman on the boats and the maintenance crew at the beach. Since it usually is still very warm in early September, we also observed some wildflowers and wildlife in the State Park. There were all kinds of bees, butterflies, lizards, and a roadrunner. It was Sara’s first roadrunner; she had seen in the wild. By noon, we left the park. It got too warm to stay any longer.

2022 · Days of The Week · Wildlife Wednesday

Western Honeybee (Apis)

Honeybee on Photinia Blossom

A honey bee (also spelled honeybee) is a eusocial flying insect within the genus Apis of the bee clade, all native to Afro-Eurasia. After bees spread naturally throughout Africa and Eurasia, humans became responsible for the current cosmopolitan distribution of honey bees, introducing multiple subspecies into South America (early 16th century), North America (early 17th century), and Australia (early 19th century).

Honey bees are known for their construction of perennial colonial nests from wax, the large size of their colonies, and surplus production and storage of honey, distinguishing their hives as a prized foraging target of many animals, including honey badgers, bears and human hunter-gatherers. Only eight surviving species of honey bee are recognized, with a total of 43 subspecies, though historically 7 to 11 species are recognized. Honey bees represent only a small fraction of the roughly 20,000 known species of bees.

The best-known honey bee is the western honey bee, (Apis mellifera), which was domesticated for honey production and crop pollination. The only other domesticated bee is the eastern honey bee (Apis cerana), which occurs in South, Southeast, and East Asia. Only members of the genus Apis are true honey bees, but some other types of bees produce and store honey, and have been kept by humans for that purpose, including the stingless bees belonging to the genus Melipona and the Indian stingless or dammar bee Tetragonal iridipennis. Modern humans also use beeswax in making candles, soap, lip balms, and various cosmetics, as a lubricant and in mold-making using the lost wax process.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honey_bee

2022 · Days of The Week · Florida · My Travel Journal · Travel Tuesday · USA

At Cinderella’s Royal Table In Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Florida 2011

🏰👑🏰👑🏰👑🏰👑🏰👑🏰👑🏰👑🏰👑🏰👑🏰👑🏰👑🏰👑🏰👑🏰👑🏰👑🏰👑🏰👑🏰👑

In the late afternoon, we had dinner with the Princesses at Cinderella’s Royal Table in the castle. Reservations are hard to come by. And we were lucky, Kevin started booking six to eight months before our trip to Walt Disney World. The girls dressed up as Tinkerbell, Minnie Mouse, and Cinderella, before the royal visit. They met Cinderella, Snow White, Princess Aurora, Ariel, and Belle. Sara loved her buttered pasta. At that age, this was Sara’s favorite finger food. When Katelynn and Rylee were done with their dinner, they got dessert, which they could decorate themselves. So much sugar! But it was something they don’t have every day. Later on, the girls could take their energy off in the park. I’ll post more about it in the next “Travel Tuesday” blog.

🏰👑🏰👑🏰👑🏰👑🏰👑🏰👑🏰👑🏰👑🏰👑🏰👑🏰👑🏰👑🏰👑🏰👑🏰👑🏰👑🏰👑🏰👑

… to be continued …

2022 · Days of The Week · My Travel Journal · Texas · Throwback Thursday · USA

Visit At The Arbor Hills Nature Preserve ~ 2013

Nine years ago, Sara and I visited the Arbor Hills Nature Preserve for the first time. It is only seven miles away from our house. But I had no idea it existed until I looked at a park map on Google one morning. Katelynn was in school. And Sara was bored because she had no one to play with in the house. So, I decided I would take her for a hike in the park. The weather was nice and not too warm. It was perfect to see what the Arbor Hills Nature Preserve has to offer. On the way, I said to Sara: “Maybe we will see some wildlife in the park.” When we arrived at the Arbor Hills Nature Preserve, we saw a lot of hikers, sprinters and runners. I told Sara to stay with me on the right side of the trail, for people who work out can pass us on the left. She did very well. We walked into the forested area. And Sara noticed a couple of squirrels chasing each other. One had a couple of pecans in its mouth. And the other squirrel wanted the first one to share at least one of the pecans. Sara and I made it all the way to the Observation Tower, where we had a nice view over a big portion of the park. After a little rest, we hiked back to the parking lot. Sara was counting the bridges, we crossed along the way. She said: “There were three bridges in total. And the squirrels were funny.” I’m glad she got entertained on this little trip to the Arbor Hills Nature Preserve. 😉

2022 · Days of The Week · Wildlife Wednesday

Western Raven (Corvus corax sinuatus)

“Hello! Welcome to Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park! I hope you have had a great trip so far?!”

Common ravens have coexisted with humans for thousands of years and have been so numerous in some areas that people have regarded them as pests. Part of their success as a species is due to their omnivorous diet: they are extremely versatile and opportunistic in finding sources of nutrition, feeding on carrion, insects, cereal grains, berries, fruit, small animals, nesting birds, and food waste. Some notable feats of problem-solving provide evidence that the common raven is unusually intelligent. Over the centuries, it has been the subject of mythology, folklore, art, and literature. In many cultures, including the indigenous cultures of Scandinavia, ancient Ireland, and Wales, Bhutan, the northwest coast of North America, and Siberia and northeast Asia, the common raven has been revered as a spiritual figure or godlike creature.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_raven

2022 · Days of The Week · Florida · My Travel Journal · Travel Tuesday · USA

A Morning Stroll Through Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, Florida 2011

After breakfast at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, we made our way over to Disney’s Magic Kingdom for a couple of hours. Sara seemed much happier with a full tummy. And so, it didn’t take long, until she fell asleep on Kevin’s shoulder. While the rest of the family waited in line for a ride, I let Sara nap in the stroller. Meanwhile, I watched Mickey and Minnie taking photos with other families. By the time, everyone came back Sara awoke from her nap. This was perfect timing for taking a photo with Mickey and Minnie before we went back to change into change clothes and rest for a little bit in Disney’s Pop Century Resort. Because the afternoon and evening were busy.

… to be continued …

2022 · Days of The Week · My Travel Journal · Texas · Throwback Thursday · USA

A Day At The Dallas Arboretum & Botanical Garden ~ August 2013 (1)

Dallas Arboretum & Botanical Garden

The Dallas Arboretum & Botanical Garden has August Dollar Days during the whole month of August. Back in 2013, we had a day that was not too hot. And I decided to take Katelynn and Sara to the Arboretum. It was a fun day. We have seen so many different flowers, water features, butterflies, dragonflies, and little mammals. Since I have so many flower photos, I have to break the visit down into several blogs. These are images from the All-America Selections Trial Garden.

… to be continued …

2022 · Days of The Week · Wildlife Wednesday

Plateau Fence Lizard (Sceloporus tristichus)

Plateau Fence Lizard

At up to 3.1 inches (80 millimeters) from snout to vent, the plateau fence lizard is a grayish, brownish, or greenish lizard. The upper side of its body has keeled scales and there is a series of narrow dark brown cross-bands on both sides of the midline. An elongated metallic blue patch can be found on each side of the belly and each side of the throat. Males are typically smaller than females with males and females in Montezuma County measuring 2.5 inches (63 millimeters) and 2.6 inches (67 millimeters), respectively.

The plateau fence lizard is found in central Arizona, southwestern Utah, western Colorado, and the San Luis Valley. It can also be found in parts of New Mexico and Wyoming. It generally dwells in rocky and wooded areas, making use of canyon walls, boulder-strewn hillsides, fallen tree trunks, and other debris and vantage points.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plateau_fence_lizard

2022 · Days of The Week · Florida · My Travel Journal · Travel Tuesday · USA

Breakfast @ Chef Mickey’s In Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Walt Disney World, Florida 2011

The following morning, we took the bus to Disney’s Contemporary Resort near Disney’s Magic Kingdom. There we went to Chef Mickey’s to have breakfast. First Sous Chef Goofy came to our table. He told us there was a little accident in the kitchen. And he might have had a part in it. Head Chef Mickey came over and asked if we enjoy our breakfast. Minnie makes sure all the guests have food and drinks at their tables. Donald baked breakfast rolls since 3 am. And Sara had to watch Pluto closely, not eating her breakfast from the plate. “No Pluto, those fruits will give you a tummy ache. And you will stay outside all day.”

… to be continued …

2022 · Days of The Week · Saturday - Caturday

The New Cat Tree 🐈

Our cats got so spoiled last Christmas. Not only have they gotten toys and catnip. They’ve also got a new cat tree. After tossing the old tree out in Texas, this was long overdue. Benny and Ozzy climbed and played in the tree as well. However today, the older cats enjoyed the cat tree for themselves. Joshua and Chewbacca loved to groom each other and looked out of the living room window together. While it was cool and windy outside, they did bird watching in a warm and cozy house. “MEOW!”

2022 · Days of The Week · Wildlife Wednesday

Painted Lady Butterfly (Vanessa cardui)

Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) at LLELA, Lewisville, Texas

Painted Lady butterflies inhabit every continent except Australia and Antarctica You can find painted ladies everywhere from meadows to vacant lots. Although they live only in warmer climates, painted ladies often migrate to colder regions in spring and fall, making them the butterflies with the widest distribution of any species. 

The painted lady is an irruptive migrant, meaning that it migrates independently of any seasonal or geographic patterns. Some evidence suggests that painted lady migrations may be linked to the El Niño climate pattern. In Mexico and some other regions, it appears that migration is sometimes related to overpopulation. The migrating populations that move from North Africa to Europe may include millions of butterflies. In spring, painted ladies fly low when migrating, usually only 6 to 12 feet above the ground. This makes them highly visible to butterfly watchers but also makes them susceptible to colliding with cars. At other times, painted ladies migrate at such high altitudes that they are not observed at all, appearing unexpectedly in a new region. 

Thistle, which can be an invasive weed, is one of the painted lady caterpillar’s favorite food plants. The painted lady probably owes its global abundance to the fact that its larvae feed on such common plants. The painted lady also goes by the name thistle butterfly, and its scientific name— Vanessa cardui —means “butterfly of thistle.”

 https://www.thoughtco.com/facts-about-painted-lady-butterflies

2022 · Days of The Week · Florida · My Travel Journal · Travel Tuesday · USA

Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Florida 2011 (1)

After meeting with our family and having breakfast in Ocala, we drove toward Orlando to get to Walt Disney World in Buena Vista. We had rooms next to each other in the Pop Century Resort. Once settled in, we spent the afternoon in Disney’s Animal Kingdom to meet several Disney characters, take photos with them, and get their autographs, before we watched “Mickey’s Jammin’ Jungle Parade”. We went on the Kali River Rapids ride, where I got completely soaked. Therefore, I had to get some clothes to change. It was March. And the evenings were cool. I didn’t want to catch a cold while we were on vacation. In the evening, we’ve noticed the ibises getting a spot on the trees to spend the night there. That was the sign that it was time to leave the park.

… to be continued …

2022 · Days of The Week · In Our Garden · On Our Property · Saturday - Caturday

Ozzy, The Garden Inspector

Two years ago, Ozzy came out to join Chewbacca in the backyard in Texas. Once he was tired of pouncing to catch bugs, he enjoyed a stroll through the raised bed garden. He had a lot of fun playing “Hide and Seek” with Chewbacca. Ozzy played garden inspector next. The pumpkin leaves make nice umbrellas for shade; the potatoes and tomatoes show another set of nice leaves to hide behind them. And the bird feeder is refilled for the delicious “food” to show up in the garden. Everything is perfect for a young cat to explore the yard. When Ozzy decided to sneak over into the neighbor’s yard, the exploration was over. He had to go back inside. Exploration makes a cat very hungry. It was dinner and then nap time for our little “Meatball”. Ozzy loves meatballs and he looked like one.

2022 · Days of The Week · Wildlife Wednesday

Juniper Hairstreak Butterfly (Callophrys gryneus)

Juniper Hairstreak Butterfly (Callophrys gryneus)

The Juniper Hairstreak in the southwestern United States is bright green below with a single white line on the forewing, hindwing, and tails. The butterfly is dark above but usually overscaled with rusty red. Bright green fades to gray-brown over time. Juniper Hairstreaks live throughout much of temperate North America.

2022 · Alabama · Days of The Week · Florida · Louisiana · Mississippi · My Travel Journal · Texas · Travel Tuesday · USA

Driving From Texas To Florida ~ 2011

Kevin and I planned a trip to Walt Disney World for Spring 2011. While we were traveling from Texas, the girl’s aunt, uncle, and cousins came from North Carolina to join us. Getting from Texas to Florida was quite an adventure. Two hours into the drive, Sara didn’t feel well and barfed all over her cute dress and new car seat. Once, she had it out of her system and we cleaned everything up as good as we could (the car seat smelled like barf on the whole round trip), we made it into Louisiana, where we spent the night.

The next morning, Sara looked much better. After a light breakfast, we moved on. In Louisiana, we’ve looked at swamps, crossed the Horace Wilkinson Bridge in Baton Rouge, and drove on Interstate 12 to avoid New Orleans on the way to Florida. In Mobile, Alabama it was busy due to people trying to get to the Cruise ship at the Mobile River. Therefore, it took us a while to get through the George Wallace Tunnel, which is located under the river. Once we got off the tunnel, we had a good view of the USS Alabama, which is now a retired battleship and U.S. National Historic Landmark and is located in the waters of Mobile Bay next to the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park, south of Interstate 10.

Pensacola, Florida is the home of the Navy Blue Angels. We’ve stopped in a rest area nearby to stretch out for a little bit. Katelynn ran up and down the hill to get the energy flowing before we ended up in Ocala for the night. The following morning, we met up with family to drive the rest of the stretch to Buena Vista.

… to be continued …

2022 · Days of The Week · Saturday - Caturday

Joshua, That Sneaky Little ****

“Hmm, while nobody is looking, I’m getting me some chicken.”

Who would have thought that Joshua was such a sneaky little butthead? Back in Texas, when Joshua was still a young cat, he couldn’t keep his eyes on the rotisserie chicken we got from the store. No matter how often we shooed him off the kitchen counter, he still found his way up there. So, what smart people do, we’ve covered the chicken up with the lit. But Josh was smart enough to open the lid and found his way into the container. Nothing is safe from that cat, especially chicken. Now, nine years later, he still finds a way to the covered chicken.