2023 · Days of The Week · Texas · Throwback Thursday

Our Garden/Greenhouse In Early May 2013

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1) Cucumber Plant; 2) Corn Plant; 3) Snow Pea Blossom; 4) Sunflower Seedling; 5) Avocado Plant; 6) Pumpkin Blossom; 7) Cucumber Plant

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2023 · Days of The Week · Texas · Wildlife Wednesday

Horace’s Duskywing (Erynnis horatius)

Horace’s Duskywing

Horace’s duskywing, is a species of butterfly in the family Hesperiidae. It is found in the United States from Massachusetts to Florida, and west to eastern South Dakota, the Gulf Coast, southeastern Utah, Colorado, north-eastern Arizona, and New Mexico. It is listed as a species of special concern in the US state of Connecticut.

The fringes are brown. The upper side of the male forewing is dark brown with little contrast and no white over scaling. The upper side of the female forewing is light brown with a contrasting pattern and large transparent spots. The underside of the hindwing is usually without two spots below the apex. The male has a coastal fold containing yellow scent scales; the female has a patch of scent scales on the 7th abdominal segment. The wingspan is 36–49 mm.

There are two generations in the north, with adults on the wing from April to September; there are three generations in the deep south and Texas, with adults on the wing from January to November. Adults prefer open woodlands and edges, clearings, fence rows, wooded swamps, power-line right-of-ways, open fields, and roadsides.

2023 · Days of The Week · Oklahoma · Travel Tuesday · USA

The Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge: The Holy City of The Wichitas, Oklahoma 2014

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Located in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge just 22 miles northwest of Lawton, the Holy City of the Wichitas stands on a 66-acre area that looks much like Israel during Biblical times. You’ll find numerous full-sized buildings and structures inside the city, including the temple court, the Lord’s Supper building, Herod’s Court, and Pilate’s judgment hall, all built with locally-quarried granite in the 1930s. You can also explore areas designated as Calvary’s Mount and the Garden of Gethsemane, in addition to watchtowers and perimeter walls. 

The site is also home to the nation’s longest-running annual Easter passion play, “The Prince of Peace.” American theaters showed newsreel footage, and in 1937 the U.S. government produced a full-length film of the pageant. Attendance reached an all-time high in 1939 when 225,000 visitors jammed Audience Hill for the sunrise performance.

Other on-site attractions include a memorial for the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing, a Veterans Walkway, and the World Chapel, which has become a popular wedding locale. This modern-day chapel replicates Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia, and features ceiling and wall murals by artist Irene Malcolm.

https://www.travelok.com/listings/view.profile/id.3595

When we left Holy City, we had a couple of motorcyclists and a prairie dog in front of us. The riders honked at the prairie dog, which sat in the middle of the lane. The Prairie Dog ran over in the grass, turned around, and showed them its tongue. What a naughty little critter??!!!

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2023 · Days of The Week · In Our Garden · Texas · Wildlife Wednesday

Question Mark Butterfly (Polygonia interrogationis)

Question Mark Butterfly

The Question Mark butterfly is a North American nymphalid butterfly. It lives in wooded areas, city parks, and areas with trees and open space. The color and textured appearance of the underside of its wings combines to provide camouflage that resembles a dead leaf. Its flight period is from May to September. “The silver mark on the underside of the hindwing is broken into two parts, a curved line, and a dot, creating a ?-shaped mark that gives the species its common name.”

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

2023 · Days of The Week · Oklahoma · Travel Tuesday · USA

The Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge And The Meers Store & Restaurant, Oklahoma 2014

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When Kevin was about Katelynn’s age, his dad was stationed as a soldier at Fort Sill in Lawton, Oklahoma. Since the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge is lining up with Fort Sill, my parents-in-law took their three boys and went camping and/or hiking in the mountains for the weekends. Many years later, Kevin always talked about going back hiking in the Wichita Mountains. At the Labor Day weekend in 2014, I said: “Okay, the girls are big enough. Let’s pack the camping gear and give it a shot!”

When we made it to Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, we went to the visitor center to get some information, before we drove to the campground. Once, Kevin had set up the tent we traveled to The Meers Store & Restaurant, which is located in Meers, one and a half miles north of the refuge. Kevin, Katelynn, Sara, and I never had Longhorn burgers before. So, there was our chance. The restaurant opened as a burger joint in 1901 and is now known as its “Best Burger in Oklahoma”. Since the place is so famous, we had to wait about 2 hours in line to get a table. The experience was so worth waiting outside at 95℉.

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… to be continued …

2023 · Days of The Week · In Our Garden · Wildlife Wednesday

Common Green Bottle Fly (Lucilia sericata)

Common Green Bottle Fly

The common green bottle fly (Lucilia sericata) is a blowfly found in most areas of the world and is the most well-known of the numerous green bottle fly species. Its body is 10–14 mm (0.39–0.55 in) in length – slightly larger than a house fly – and has brilliant, metallic, blue-green, or golden coloration with black markings. It has short, sparse, black bristles (setae) and three cross grooves on the thorax. The wings are transparent with light brown veins, and the legs and antennae are black. The fly’s larvae may be used for maggot therapy, are commonly used in forensic entomology, and can cause myiasis in livestock and pets. The common green bottle fly emerges in the spring for mating.

Lucilia sericata is common all over the temperate and tropical regions of the planet, including Europe, Africa, and Australia. It prefers warm and moist climates, so it is especially common in coastal regions, but can also be found in arid areas.[The female lays her eggs in carrion of all kinds, sometimes in the skin or hair of live animals, causing myiasis. The larvae feed on decaying organic tissue. The fly favors host species of the genus Ovis, domestic sheep in particular, and sometimes lays eggs in the wet wool of living sheep. This can lead to a blowfly strike, causing problems for sheep farmers. L. sericata has been known to prefer lower elevations relative to other Calliphoridae species, such as Calliphora vomitoria.

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

2023 · Connecticut · Days of The Week · Texas · USA · Wildlife Wednesday

European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)

First brought to North America by Shakespeare enthusiasts in the nineteenth century, European Starlings are now among the continent’s most numerous songbirds. They are stocky black birds with short tails, triangular wings, and long, pointed bills. Though they’re sometimes resented for their abundance and aggressiveness, they’re still dazzling birds when you get a good look. Covered in white spots during winter, they turn dark and glossy in summer. For much of the year, they wheel through the sky and mob lawns in big, noisy flocks.

2023 · Days of The Week · Texas · Travel Tuesday · USA

State Fair of Texas: Fair Park, Dallas: Midway & The New Top 0′ Texas Tower 2013 🎡

The focal point of the State Fair of Texas Midway was the newly completed Top o’ Texas Tower ride in 2013. The foundation for the super gyro tower was built in summer 2011 and the first two of six shaft components were stacked in mid-November 2012. The remaining shaft components were erected in December, followed by attachments of the gondola and carrier.

… to be continued …

2023 · Days of The Week · Texas · Throwback Thursday · USA

John Bunker Sands Wetland Center In April 2013

In late March/early April 2013, I browsed around on Facebook. And while I worked on my page, scrolled, and clicked, I saw a few photos of Bald Eagles nesting in the Dalles/Fort Worth area. I did some research about the birds and found out that their nest is at John Bunker Sands Wetland Center in Seagoville, Texas. Just southeast of Dallas. After a bit more reading, it said the center is open to the public every first Saturday of the month. “Perfect”, I said to Kevin. “The weather is supposed to be beautiful this weekend. I’m going to take Katelynn to see Bald Eagles in Seagoville this Saturday.” He replied he can take care of Sara. She’s still too little for walking around for a long time.

The following Saturday, Katelynn and I packed a couple of snacks and water before we hit the road. It was about an hour’s drive to get to the John Bunker Sands Wetland Center. Katelynn was really excited to get to see these beautiful birds. We both have never seen Bald Eagles in the wild.

The entrance area of the John Bunker Sands Wetland Center in Seagoville, Texas

When we arrived at the John Bunker Sands Wetland Center, I paid our entry fee. The ladies at the desk had a few questions. One was how we heard about the center. I replied: “Facebook.” The ladies were surprised. I explained to them how I found their page … “and now we are here to see some wildlife.” Before we got on our self-guided hike, Ron wanted to show us a few animals inside the center. “Katelynn, are you ready to see a two-and-a-half-foot ‘gator? We’ve got a couple of snakes, too.” Katelynn cheered “YEEAAHH! I’m ready for that!” Ron got Ally, the alligator, out of a fountain. He had to be quick. Ally and her brother wanted to go after his hand. But at the end, he was holding Ally tight in his hand. Ron explained to us the anatomy of a ‘gator, how they swim, hunt, and even chill at the banks of a river. He also told us that Ally’s momma is a big alligator, which lives in the marshy swamps of the center. “So, don’t get too close to the waters”, Ron warned us.

Next, we moved on to see a Western Hognose and a Corn snake. As a child, I was always terrified of snakes, since I had no knowledge of snakes. Over the years, I’ve learned so much more about these animals. And now, I have no problem touching and holding them. The Western Hognose was the first snake I’ve ever put in my hands. It was very interesting, how these reptiles contract their muscles to slide forward. This little guy had a good grip on my hand and fingers. It was very fascinating. After the hognose, Ron pulled out the corn snake out of the terrarium. I almost jumped back. Looking at the snake, I said: “Yeah, this one is a bit too big for me. I’ll pass and watch Katelynn holding it. The corn snake really liked Katelynn. She immediately had to check out Katelynn’s soft hair. Katelynn enjoyed having the snake around her neck and learn the difference between venomous and non-venous snakes. And we found out, how to tell between a boy snake and a girl snake.

Once we were done looking and learning about these wonderful reptiles, Katelynn got equipped with binoculars. We were also advised to walk on the trail and stay away from the water’s edge. On the way to the transmission towers in the west of the center, we saw beautiful yellow Spring flowers and some waterfowl. The American Coots made quite some noise out on the water. And we’ve seen tons of ladybugs along the way.

At the end of that trail, we finally got a good glimpse of the adult eagles. The Bald Eagle couple arrives around October/November in Texas. The female lays eggs in January. Both parents take care of their offspring until early mid-May, before they all migrate back up north. In October/November it all repeats itself again. Due to the marshlands at the center, the Eagles have a lot of food resources. I guess, this is why they always choose to come back to the same place.

On the way back to the building of the John Bunker Sands Wetland Center, we’ve seen some footprints (I believe from a raccoon), more flowers, and birds. Once we left, there was a mare with her foal. So adorable! I parked on the side of the road for a moment, so Katelynn could look at the horses from the car.

On the road back home, I noticed that Katelynn had a long morning. She took a short nap in the car. I guess, the fresh air, the walk to the eagle’s nest, and learning about alligators and snakes knocked her out. It was a lot to take in for a 9-year-old. No doubt! 🙂

2023 · Days of The Week · In Our Garden · Texas · Throwback Thursday

R.I.P. Mimosa Tree ~ 2013

Our Mimosa started to die and eventually needed to be cut down. One day in early April 2013 the tree service came over and chopped. We were actually glad, the tree was done. Mimosas make a big mess. They look pretty only for two to three weeks. But the rest of the time they drop sticky sap and their seeds make a mess. However, Ranger loved the tree. It provided a lot of shade for him.

2023 · Days of The Week · Texas · Wildlife Wednesday

Tawny Emperor Butterfly (Asterocampa clyton)

Tawny Emperor Butterfly (Asterocampa clyton)

The tawny emperor is a species of brush-footed butterfly. It is native to North America, especially the eastern half from Canada to northern Mexico. The tawny emperor should not be mistaken for a very similar Asterocampa butterfly, the hackberry emperor, which can be distinguished by the white spots near the tip of its forewing and the black eyespot lower along the edge of the forewing. The upper side is mostly dark brown. The forewing is an orange-brown color with pale orange-yellow spots. The underside is mainly gray-brown with the forewing having some black and pale yellowish markings. The wingspan measures 2 to 2.6 inches (51 to 66 mm). A dark morph of this species is regionally common with nearly uniformly dark hind wings. This butterfly may be seen flying near houses, gravel driveways, water, muddy places, gardens, and woodlands. Its only host plant is hackberry trees. The adult feeds on carrion, plant sap, and dung, and rarely lands on flowers.

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

2023 · Days of The Week · Wildlife Wednesday

Widow Skimmer Dragonfly (Libellula luctuosa)

Widow Skimmers are large, beautiful dragonflies that are very common in certain areas and are usually found in wetlands and ponds. This dragonfly is easy to identify because no other dragonfly has a similar wing marking pattern in our area. Like most other dragonflies, the widow skimmer male is territorial and may patrol very large areas to search for females and to chase off other males. After mating, the female usually lays her eggs alone in shallow ponds or lakes. However, if there are many other males around, the original male may jealously guard her while she is laying to make sure some other male doesn’t interfere.

2023 · Days of The Week · Texas · Wildlife Wednesday

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)

The preferred habitat of the barn swallow is open country with low vegetation, such as pasture, meadows, and farmland, preferably with nearby water. This swallow avoids heavily wooded or precipitous areas and densely built-up locations. The presence of accessible open structures such as barns, stables, or culverts to provide nesting sites, and exposed locations such as wires, roof ridges, or bare branches for perching, are also important in the bird’s selection of its breeding range.

Barn swallows are semi-colonial, settling in groups from a single pair to a few dozen pairs, particularly in larger wooden structures housing animals. The same individuals often breed at the same site year after year, although settlement choices have been experimentally shown to be predicted by nest availability rather than any characteristics of available mates. Because it takes around 2 weeks for a pair to build a nest from mud, hair, and other materials, old nests are highly prized.

This species breeds across the Northern Hemisphere from sea level to 2,700 m (8,900 ft), but to 3,000 m (9,800 ft) in the Caucasus and North America, and it is absent only from deserts and the cold northernmost parts of the continents. Over much of its range, it avoids towns, and the house martin replaces it in Europe in urban areas. However, in Honshū, Japan, the barn swallow is a more urban bird, with the red-rumped swallow (Cecropis daurica) replacing it as the rural species.

In winter, the barn swallow is cosmopolitan in its habitat choice, avoiding only dense forests and deserts. It is most common in open, low vegetation habitats, such as savanna and ranch land, and in Venezuela, South Africa, and Trinidad and Tobago it is described as being particularly attracted to burnt or harvested sugarcane fields and the waste from the cane. In the absence of suitable roost sites, they may sometimes roost on wires where they are more exposed to predators. Individual birds return to the same wintering locality each year and congregate from a large area to roost in reed beds. These roosts can be extremely large; one in Nigeria had an estimated 1.5 million birds. These roosts are thought to be a protection from predators, and the arrival of roosting birds is synchronized to overwhelm predators like African hobbies. The barn swallow has been recorded as breeding in the more temperate parts of its winter range, such as the mountains of Thailand and in central Argentina.

Migration of barn swallows between Britain and South Africa was first established on 23 December 1912 when a bird that had been ringed by James Masefield at a nest in Staffordshire, was found in Natal. As would be expected for a long-distance migrant, this bird has occurred as a vagrant to such distant areas as Hawaii, Bermuda, Greenland, Tristan da Cunha, the Falkland Islands, and even Antarctica.

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

2023 · Days of The Week · In Our Garden · Wildlife Wednesday

Downy Woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens)

Downy Woodpeckers give a checkered black-and-white impression. The black upper parts are checked with white on the wings, the head is boldly striped, and the back has a broad white stripe down the center. Males have a small red patch on the back of the head. The outer tail feathers are typically white with a few black spots. Downy Woodpeckers hitch around tree limbs and trunks or drop into tall weeds to feed on galls, moving more acrobatically than larger woodpeckers. Their rising-and-falling flight style is distinctive of many woodpeckers. They make lots of noise in spring and summer, with their shrill whinnying call and drumming on trees. The woodpecker in open woodlands, particularly among deciduous trees, and brushy or weedy edges. They’re also at home in orchards, city parks, backyards, and vacant lots.

2023 · Days of The Week · On Our Property · Texas · The Greenhouse · Throwback Thursday

The Greenhouse In Texas ~ 2013 (2)

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Finally, the two pieces I had to reorder were arriving. And I could finish building the greenhouse. Once the frame was up, I slid the panels on the bottom, and installed the window, before I could slide the roof panels in place. The ground was already straightened, when I put the base together. Kevin had to help me to lift the greenhouse across the fence. The kit was light, so it was easy for us to get it from the porch to the garden, where I could fasten it to the base. The following morning, I built the door and installed it, before a Spring storm came through. The greenhouse made it successful through the storm.

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2023 · Connecticut · Days of The Week · Texas · Wildlife Wednesday

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius)

Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers live in both hardwood and conifer forests up to about 6,500 feet in elevation. They often nest in groves of small trees such as aspens and spend winters in open woodlands. Occasionally, sapsuckers visit bird feeders for suet. Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers perch upright on trees, leaning on their tails like other woodpeckers. They feed at sap wells —neat rows of shallow holes they drill in tree bark. They lap up the sugary sap along with any insects that may get caught there. Sapsuckers drum on trees and metal objects in a distinctive stuttering pattern. Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are mostly black and white with boldly patterned faces. Both sexes have red foreheads, and males also have red throats. Look for a long white stripe along the folded wing. Bold black-and-white stripes curve from the face toward a black chest shield and white or yellowish underparts.

2023 · Days of The Week · Festivals · Places · Texas · Travel Tuesday · USA

State Fair of Texas: Fair Park, Dallas: Kroger Birds of The World Show ~ 2013 🎡

Kevin, the girls, and I wanted to take a little break from walking around the fair. The Fair had the “Kroger Birds of The World Show” in the Band Shell. Katelynn and Sara enjoyed watching the big birds from different parts of the planet. One of the birds made a “guest” fall into the nearby pool. Well, it was a warm October day. I can imagine, it was very refreshing.

… to be continued …

2023 · Days of The Week · In Our Garden · Throwback Thursday

Texas Gardening In March 2013 (1)

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I started my garden in the early Spring of 2013 by sowing beans, bell peppers, corn, pumpkins, sunflowers, tomatoes, and other goodies. I also worked on some herbs. At least, I had something ready to grow in the greenhouse, once the parts arrived and I could finish building it. Joshua made sure, that I watered the seedlings every day. And Sara enjoyed the milder days on the back porch.

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2023 · Days of The Week · On Our Property · Wildlife Wednesday

American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)

American Grow on our Texas house chimney

American Crows are familiar over much of the continent: large, intelligent, all-black birds with hoarse, cawing voices. They are common sights in treetops, fields, and roadsides, and in habitats ranging from open woods and empty beaches to town centers. They usually feed on the ground and eat almost anything—typically earthworms, insects, and other small animals, seeds, and fruit; also garbage, carrion, and chicks they rob from nests. Their flight style is unique, patient, and methodical flapping that is rarely broken up with glides.

2023 · Days of The Week · On Our Property · Wildlife Wednesday

Great-tailed Grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus)

The great-tailed grackle or Mexican grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus) is a medium-sized, highly social passerine bird native to North and South America. A member of the family Icteridae, it is one of 10 extant species of grackle and is closely related to the boat-tailed grackle and the extinct slender-billed grackle. In the southern United States, it is sometimes simply referred to as “blackbird” or (erroneously) “crow”] due to its glossy black plumage, and similarly, it is often called Cuervo (“raven”) in some parts of Mexico, although it is not a member of the crow genus Corvus, nor even of the family Corvidae.

Great-tailed grackles originated from the tropical lowlands of Central and South America, but historical evidence from Bernardino de Sahagún shows that the Aztecs, during the time of the emperor Ahuitzotl, introduced the great-tailed grackle from their homeland in the Mexican Gulf Coast to the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan in the highland Valley of Mexico, most likely to use their iridescent feathers for decoration. In more recent times, great-tailed grackles expanded their breeding range by over 5,500% by moving north into North America between 1880 and 2000, following urban and agricultural corridors. Their current range stretches from northwestern Venezuela and western Colombia and Ecuador in the south to Minnesota in the north, to Oregon, Idaho, and California in the west, to Florida in the east, with vagrants occurring as far north as southern Canada. Their habitat for foraging is on the ground in clear areas such as pastures, wetlands, and mangroves, and chaparral. The grackles’ range has expanded with agricultural and urban settings.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great-tailed_grackle

2023 · Days of The Week · Festivals · Texas · Travel Tuesday · USA

State Fair of Texas: Fair Park, Dallas: The New Big Tex ~ 2013 🎡

On the morning of October 19, 2012, (the final weekend of the 2012 State Fair of Texas, and on Big Tex’s 60th birthday) a fire started inside the framework of Big Tex. The figure’s clothing, face, and hat were completely destroyed in minutes as onlookers watched. An official investigation determined that the fire started in an electrical panel (fixed wiring) under the attraction’s right boot. This panel was believed to have powered the air compressor that kept the clothing of the statue ‘inflated’. News of the fire received national attention, and fair officials committed to rebuilding Big Tex “bigger and better” in time for the 2013 fair.

Working under secrecy, a new Big Tex was created in 2013 by SRO Associates and Texas Scenic Co. at a cost of $500,000. The recreated statue weighs 19,000 pounds (8,618.3 kg) more than the previous version, bringing him to 25,000 pounds (11,339.8 kg). This allows Big Tex to withstand 100 miles per hour (160.9 km/h) winds without needing support wires as in previous versions. The height was increased by 1 yard (91.4 cm) to 55 feet (16.8 m) tall. Big Tex Circle, the location during the State Fair of Texas, was also enlarged and reinforced for the larger statue.

The recreated structure for Big Tex that appeared in 2013 required new clothing and larger sizes. The new Dickie shirt features a 14-foot collar, and 23-foot sleeves and weighs 130 pounds (59 kg). The shirt is made from 150 yards (140 m) of awning material. The new Dickie jeans feature a 27-foot waist, and 22-foot inseam and weigh 100 pounds (45 kg). The jeans are made from 100 yards (91 m) of denim material.

… to be continued …

2023 · Days of The Week · On Our Property · Texas · The Greenhouse · Throwback Thursday

The Greenhouse In Texas ~ 2013 (1)

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My greenhouse arrived toward the end of February 2013. It was a Thursday. And on the following weekend, I began to build the greenhouse kit. To my dismay, I noticed two frame pieces were broken. I had to call the company the following Monday and wait for the pieces to arrive. UGH! That sucked.

In the meantime, Kevin fixed the chainlink fence and gate poles for the garden space. It’s an area to prevent the dogs from pooping in our garden. Katelynn and I cut a bush down and pulled its roots out as well as we could. Once she found a worm, she was too busy playing with it. So much about helping me with digging roots out of the ground, LOL.

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2023 · Days of The Week · Wildlife Wednesday

Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis vesiculosa)

Female Eastern Pondhawk

Erythemis simplicicollis, the eastern pondhawk, also known as the common pondhawk, is a dragonfly of the family Libellulidae, native to the eastern two-thirds of the United States and southern Ontario and Quebec, Canada. It is a dragonfly of ponds and still waters. The species is distinguished in that the female is bright green with a banded abdomen and the mature male has a blue abdomen with a green face and green and blue thorax.

The eastern pondhawk is an athletic, swift-flying predator, able to catch damselflies and other insect prey on the wing. In between hunts, it rests on vegetation, ready to take to the air if prey comes within sight. When newly emerged, the dragonflies at first hunt away from water. After about two weeks they return to the ponds and males set up territories, chasing away rivals. The males guard the floating algal mats that make suitable egg-laying sites. Satellite males remain nearby, awaiting an opportunity to intercept females or seize territories.

Mating takes place while the dragonflies are perched on vegetation close to the water. Within one minute of mating, the female starts to lay her eggs, the male hovering nearby to guard her. She flies low over the pond, dipping her abdomen into the water and depositing her eggs at intervals. Some females mate several times during a single day. In Florida, new batches of adults are emerging throughout the summer months; the reproductive adult has a lifespan of about ten days.

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