Yard Happenings in Mid-October

We are still waiting for fall here along the Gulf Coast. This year spring hung on longer than usual, then summer hit like a ton of hot bricks. Last week I began to wonder if summer may be hanging on only for winter to hit us with a blast of cold that doesn’t let up. We’ll see. Maybe next week. I know those of you who have lived here but are not from here think I’m nuts because we don’t get four seasons, but we’ll see.

A couple weeks ago I wondered where the snakes have gone. I haven’t seen any in quite awhile. Earlier this year I saw what I think was the same Rat Snake a couple times near the back corner of the house. One of the times I saw it the poor thing had been ‘treed’ on the fence by the neighbor’s pit bulls. I had to distract the dogs with a bit of cat food so the snake could get away. I was afraid he was going to bite one of them. I found a baby Louisiana Milk Snake in the garden one day. That was funny because earlier that same day a friend saw my well-mulched garden and called it my Snake Garden. Later that evening we saw what must have been the momma or the daddy crawling across the driveway. That was funny because my husband and I were talking with our son and one of his friends and along comes this snake crawling right between us. This is a nocturnal snake; I woke the young one but the adult was just beginning it’s normal ‘day’. There were a few others seen in the yard this year, but I don’t remember the details. Since I hadn’t seen any in awhile I thought maybe it just got too hot and they were staying in the shade during the day and none came out unless it was nighttime. Rat Snakes can be seen either night or day.

Well, now that it’s cooled off (down to the 80’s F) I have seen two different ones. I woke a young Louisiana Milk Snake when I moved a cinder block the other day. He was so cute with his little solid black head and pretty bands of red, black and yellow. He has a black band of color between each band of red. That is how I know he’s not a Coral Snake so he’s OK to pick up. He’s so smooth; not slimy like some folks expect snakes to be. I only pick up the small ones though because even though this snake doesn’t bite often and isn’t poisonous, I’m not interested in getting a nasty bite that can get infected.

Yesterday I saw a Western Ribbon Snake. He was on the patio area near the garden. Since he wasn’t in the grass I was able to get a pretty good look at his stripes. There are three striped snakes in this area and once you’ve learned the different characteristics you can tell them apart pretty easily. I had to look fast, too, because this fellow didn’t want to be seen by me at all. He took off like he was late getting somewhere. I did get a second to see the lighter sort of golden stripe down the middle of his back and the black and cream colored ones on his sides that contrast with it. Oh, well. I hope he found the groceries he was looking for. I’m sure he was shopping.

This morning I watched two female Ruby-throated Hummingbirds fight over a feeder. I’ll never understand it. There are two feeders in my yard, plus Mexican Petunias, and Turk’s Cap that has grown out of it’s boundaries – besides all the other feeders on this street – but they have to fight over one feeder. And boy, are the Turk’s Cap flowers popular today. I watched a humming bird, a really pretty rust-colored moth and 5 or 6 yellow butterflies all on them at the same time. Little things like that are just breathtaking to me.

Oh, and I found out what the little fuzzy white flowers are that I think are so cute. They grow on a little vine-like stem close to the ground. A friend told me today they are Virgina Buttonweed and from what she was saying about her dealings with it in her yard, and what I’ve seen online, this little flower that I like so much drives some folks nuts. They want to get rid of it. If we get some frost soon that will take care of it. I’ll miss it though.

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