Tag Archives: green anole (Anolis carolinensis)

Natural flavor

It’s not that I’ve lost interest in blogging.  In fact, I have an endless supply of stories to tell and photos to share.

But the requisites of life care not for personal endeavors.

I’m the youngest person at our family farm.  I should add that I’m the youngest by decades.  And I’m the healthiest person here—healthiest despite back surgery, knee surgery, sinus surgery, leukemia, and all that jazz.

But this is a real farm with real livestock and real work to be done: animals to be fed and cared for, pastures to be tended, fences to be put up or fixed, crops to be grown and nurtured, vehicles and equipment to be maintained, pets to be managed, meals to be cooked, supplies to be acquired, technology to be administered…

And yet this is also a household with real needs beyond the farm: be the copy editor for family newsletters and stories; take care of everyone’s cell phones, satellite internet, computers and modems and routers and printers/scanners/fax machines; find the best deal for this, that or the other; fix televisions and satellite TV services; plant and care for flowers and bushes and fruit trees and vegetables and whatnot; find solutions to rodent problems that plague gardens and households and livestock and…

Well, let’s just say that this is a real farm and a real household with real work and real needs and a diminishing lack of able bodies.

Except me.

In my “spare” time I’m still writing books, still snapping photos, still looking for paid work I can do without taking away from the farm, still being there for my parents and family through their increasing health issues, still hoping for another visit with my nieces and nephews and brothers and sister and aunts and uncles and…

Well…  Still wishing life had dealt me a more manageable hand than the one I have to play, still thinking that I’ll catch a break as soon as the universe realizes it gave me bad cards, still trying to maintain a poker face whilst clinging to sanity.

Nevertheless, blogging and photography and…  Well—again—let’s just say that my aspirations cower behind a deck stacked against them, and they and I don’t seem to have any input into the deal or play of cards.

To wit, I want to do this but I have to do that.

I want to write more, publishing books and novellas and articles.  I want to delve into people photography, whether for profit or for fun.  I want to continue my nature photography, published or otherwise.  I want to keep abreast with technology and remain an expert in that arena, able to deal with any question or need no matter the platform.  I want to set aside my work for the people—Well, let’s just say that I want to focus on personal efforts instead of what’s required of me by the populace (who need me but don’t even know they need me).

Only I’m not someone’s bitch, not time’s nor life’s nor the world’s.  So here’s where I take control of my digital existence.  Or so I tell myself.

Close-up of a black & yellow argiope (Argiope aurantia) silhouetted by the sun (20081011_13628)

Because—let’s be honest here—we spin our webs and catch our prey without a thought for what we control.  We live life sans a care for what we feel, let alone for what we manage.

Early morning crepuscular rays seen through trees and ground fog (20131018_08774)

And the rays of light carry us from moment to moment, from morning to morning, from here to there.

White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) jumping a pasture fence (20140114_09569)

We jump our fences.  We find our way through the mayhem of what is and what comes.

Close-up of a Texas dandelion (Pyrrhopappus carolinianus) in sunshine (20140525_10603)

We bloom when nothing matters, when nothing counts, when the world measures itself for naught.

A beetle atop blooming prairie fleabane (Erigeron strigosus) (20140529_10696)

We stand upon the blooms we discount only because they hold us up and carry us forward.

A male giant stag beetle (Lucanus elaphus) walking across gravel (20140625_11524)

We march forward without a care for the world.

A zebra swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus) eating minerals from the ground (20140703_11720)

We flit from here to there so we can consume sustenance, so we can survive.

A brown morph female blue-fronted dancer (Argia apicalis) resting on wood (20140811_12152)

We rest.  We lie comfortably so we can rest.  And we rest.

A leucistic female ruby-throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) perched on a feeder (20140811_12304)

We stand out from the crowd when we’re nothing more than what is.

A female green anole (Anolis carolinensis) peering around a corner at me (20140923_12528)

And we catch a peek when we can.  We look upon what is and accept that we are what was.

Because we’re more than what we thought, we’re more than what we believed.  In the end, we are more.

Thus, I’m more.

And I want to be more.

And I will be more.

Because I’m going to move forward.

I’m going to win.

I’m going to survive.

I’m going to overcome.

— — — — — — — — — —


  1. Black & yellow argiope (a.k.a. yellow garden spider; Argiope aurantia) – female
  2. Crepuscular rays
  3. White-tailed deer (a.k.a. whitetail deer; Odocoileus virginianus)
  4. Texas dandelion (a.k.a. false dandelion, Carolina desert-chicory, leafy false dandelion or Florida dandelion; Pyrrhopappus carolinianus)
  5. Prairie fleabane (a.k.a. daisy fleabane or rough fleabane; Erigeron strigosus)
  6. Giant stag beetle (a.k.a. American stag beetle; Lucanus elaphus) – male
  7. Zebra swallowtail (a.k.a. black-barred swallowtail; pawpaw butterfly or kite swallowtail; Eurytides marcellus)
  8. Blue-fronted dancer (Argia apicalis) – brown morph female
  9. Ruby-throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) – leucistic female
  10. Green anole (a.k.a. Carolina anole; Anolis carolinensis) – female


Close-up of a female green anole (a.k.a. Carolina anole; Anolis carolinensis) perched on the patio wall (20080901_11739)

I’m not the only one who’s been busy observing the nesting box I built and placed on the patio.  This female green anole (a.k.a. Carolina anole; Anolis carolinensis) is just one of the critters who took an interest in the goings on by the various bee and wasp species using the box.  Interestingly enough, I’ve seen these lizards try to tackle bees and wasps before, including the giant eastern cicada-killer wasps (Sphecius speciosus).  Though I’ve never seen them successfully grab any bee or wasp species, it tickles me to watch, especially when it involves the cicada killers as those wasps are far too large for an anole to overpower, let alone consume.  But that doesn’t stop them from trying.

As for the nesting box, it’s proven to be one of the best ideas I’ve had.  It’s providing a breadth and depth of observational knowledge that I could never have attained otherwise.

For example, I never knew cuckoo wasps are able to drill holes in dried mud nests in order to lay their egg inside.  They start by chewing at the nest first, perhaps to soften up the dry mud, then they wedge the spines on their gaster against the soft spot and proceed to vibrate at an almost imperceptible speed.  Eventually they’re able to get their prehensile ovipositor into the nest through this tiny, nearly invisible hole.

Also, leafcutter bees (Megachile spp.) are bullies.  When one finished her first nesting tube, she decided to move to the tube next to it.  That tube was already in use by a mason wasp (Euodynerus hidalgo hidalgo).  This resulted in a 24-hour fight—No kidding!  Eventually the leafcutter bee pulled the mason wasp out of the nest and beat her up in midair.  The wasp moved on and the bee set about dislodging and ejecting the existing nest material from the tube.  I now have little piles of sand and a lot of paralyzed caterpillars spread around the patio (which has attracted hordes of acrobat ants [Crematogaster laeviuscula] to clean up the critters).  Meanwhile, the mason wasp has moved to a new tube where she’s already begun a new nest (technically it will be her third because she finished her first one a few days ago and her second one now has a leafcutter squatter).

Much to my surprise, the nesting critters sleep in the tube they’re working on.  I didn’t realize this until one morning around sunrise I knelt down and leaned in close to see what was what inside the tubes.  One of the mason wasps charged to the tube entrance.  I had no idea!  In the days since, I’ve seen that the leafcutter bees and both mason wasp species do this (the mason bee tubes are too small to see if anything’s moving inside them).  And though they’ll charge to the front of the tube in a show of defiance, it’s more bluster than anything else; as solitary stingers, they’re not particularly aggressive unless you manhandle them.

Finally, size really does matter.  The leafcutter bees are large; in fact, they’re too large for all but the largest nesting tubes.  The mason wasps and mason bees (Osmia sp.), on the other hand, are small and/or slender enough to use any of the tubes.  The first time I saw a mason wasp (Euodynerus megaera) land on one of the smallest holes, I quietly thought she’d soon learn she would need an upgrade.  But I was the one who would soon learn.  She promptly folded back her wings and slipped inside as though walking through double doors.  Impressive!  Euodynerus hidalgo hidalgo is also small enough to use those holes, and certainly the mason bees are small enough to do so.

When it comes to species seen, here’s what I can tell you:

  • Mason wasps (Euodynerus hidalgo hidalgo)
  • Mason wasps (Euodynerus megaera)
  • Leafcutter bees (Megachile sp.)
  • Mason bees (Osmia sp.)
  • Cuckoo wasps (Chrysis coerulans), targeting dirt dauber nests and not the nest box
  • One, if not two, other cuckoo wasp species targeting the wasps and bees in the box
  • At least two species of chalcidoid wasp, though they’re too small and move around too quickly for a good look—at least thus far
  • And the usual suspects: black and yellow mud daubers (a.k.a. mud wasp; Sceliphron caementarium) and common potter wasp (a.k.a. dirt dauber; Eumenes fraternus), not to mention the paper wasps I keep having to kick off the patio

Oh, and when it comes to the green anole’s fabulous colors, that show is courtesy of the “Oh no!” hue that filled the sky last Tuesday just before our tornado outbreak.  Yes, the sky took on that ominous color that just shouts danger is on its way.  In the end, that evening we had at least ten confirmed tornadoes in and around the DFW metroplex.  Rest assured we spent some of that time huddled in the bathroom during the overlapping tornado warnings that stretched on for two hours and were accompanied by three blasts of the warning sirens.  Still, just before it got ugly, the combination of threatening sky and deep shadows really made for some beautiful colors on otherwise ubiquitous objects, lizards included.

put on your faces – earth day 2010

Today is Earth Day 2010.  For forty years this annual event has served to focus attention on issues such as conservation, pollution, climate and sustainability.  That 2010 is also the International Year of Biodiversity makes this Earth Day even more important.

Every 24 hours approximately 100 species go extinct, relegated forever to the past tense.  It seems to me that every day should be Earth Day.  But since I have no interest in preaching, I thought I’d mark this event with a special edition of put on your faces.  Because it’s faces like these that we stand to lose.

Close-up of a mallard duckling (Anas platyrhynchos) (2009_06_03_021795)

Mallard duckling (Anas platyrhynchos)

Close-up of a white-lined sphinx moth (Hyles lineata) as it feeds (2009_07_18_026958_c)

White-lined sphinx moth (Hyles lineata)

Close-up of a juvenile male blackbuck (a.k.a. Indian antelope; Antilope cervicapra) (2009_05_22_020931)

Blackbuck (a.k.a. Indian antelope; Antilope cervicapra); juvenile male

Close-up of a green heron (Butorides virescens) (2009_09_05_028705)

Green heron (Butorides virescens)

Close-up of a fox squirrel (a.k.a. eastern fox squirrel, stump-eared squirrel, raccoon squirrel or monkey-faced squirrel; Sciurus niger) (2009_09_27_029754)

Fox squirrel (a.k.a. eastern fox squirrel, stump-eared squirrel, raccoon squirrel or monkey-faced squirrel; Sciurus niger); male

Close-up of a green anole (a.k.a. Carolina anole; Anolis carolinensis) (20080817_11010_c)

Green anole (a.k.a. Carolina anole; Anolis carolinensis); male

Close-up of a differential grasshopper (Melanoplus differentialis) (2009_10_02_029993)

Differential grasshopper (Melanoplus differentialis); male

Close-up of a male great-tailed grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus) (2009_10_25_034089)

Great-tailed grackle (Quiscalus mexicanus); male

Close-up of a male fallow deer (Dama dama) (2009_05_22_020739)

Fallow deer (Dama dama); light morph male (buck/stag)

Anole art

I’ve been taking a bit more artistic license with my photography.  That’s not to say I’m betraying my principle of only letting you see what I saw.  No, I won’t be Photoshopping out pieces of the image so you can enjoy a scene that never existed: if there were power lines stretched between the trees in an awesome view of autumnal foliage, you’ll either see the power lines or you’ll never see the photo.  I’m a purist in that sense.

What I mean by “artistic license” is that I’m spreading my wings a bit into different filters, different editing techniques, different presentations.  I’ll never give up on showing the majestic beauty of nature as it exists; there’s no need to since nature has such profound magic that one need never venture from the truth to find art.

But having said that, I’ve also grown to appreciate that nature can sometimes be viewed in a different light so to speak, such that it creates a whole new experience.  Infrared filters, cross-processing, over-exposing, black and white…  The list goes on.

Perhaps I’m engaging in a brief affair, a flirtation if you will.  No matter the source of this little adventure, I thought I’d show you some of what I’m referring to.

Take the ubiquitous green anole (Anolis carolinensis).  This species can change colors such that it never ceases to amaze me.  A group of them lives in the wall at one end of my patio (Mediterranean geckos live in the wall at the other end, hence I have diurnal and nocturnal insect protection when it’s warm enough for the reptiles).  Although I see these anoles when taking walks or when stepping out my back door, they entertain me and engage me at every turn.

But how many photos of them can I take before it becomes mundane?  Or worse, boring?

Not that I ever think green anoles are boring.  Hell, they show me gratuitous lizard sex at the drop of a hat.

Green anoles (Anolis carolinensis) mating(20080526_05846)

Honestly, though, how often can you watch cold-blooded critters doing the dirty before it becomes unexceptional?  Okay, for me that’s never, but I’m not sure you’d want me showing those photos all the time as though they represent something new and exciting.

A female green anole (Anolis carolinensis) seen through the patio fence (20080901_11693)

Mind you, the anoles create their own art without realizing it.  As I sat inside the fence watching them scamper and hunt and try to woo each other, this female stopped to look at me from a position on the outside of the fence.  She hung effortlessly on the wall as I looked through the slats and marveled at her beauty.  The scene of her through the fence opening made her all the more beguiling.

Still, is it new and exciting?  Is it even interesting?

A baby green anole (Anolis carolinensis) perched on a leaf (2009_09_06_028883)

On the other hand…  Take a little baby anole sitting on a leaf carefully watching me, a sea of green awash in sunlight, an unremarkable scene if ever there was one.  On its own, it looks like every other green anole sitting on every other leaf.  But give it a wee boost by cross-processing the color image as though it’s negative film, and something happens that makes it interesting, compelling even—if I were inclined to say as much.

A female green anole (Anolis carolinensis) perched on the side of a tree (2009_09_07_028929)

Then there’s the failed close-up of an anole hanging from a tree.  She sat there for quite some time waiting for lunch to walk by below.  Meanwhile, I kept trying to find a way to get a nice image while shooting through the fence—or from above, which I hate since it’s so anthropocentric and unnatural.  I regrettably never found the right spot that made the fence a friend rather than an enemy, so all the photos turned out poorly as she responded to my many thumps and scrapes against the wood slats.  Nonetheless, taking an unsatisfactory picture and turning it black and white followed by some newspaper aging seemed to offer something usable from something useless.

A green anole (Anolis carolinensis) hanging on dead leaves (2009_09_06_028789)

Amongst the endless parade of green anole pictures, however, I still have those that stand on their own.  This one offers the simplicity of a creature turned dark brown so it can absorb the morning sunshine and expedite its warming.  The contrast of dead leaves surrounding the vigor of a small life calls to me somehow.  That and I never cease to be amazed by the diverse range of colors this species can assume, and they do so for more reasons than we can imagine.

More importantly, I’ve learned over these many years that a state of mind—even an emotion—can rest beneath each color, from courtship to warning to camouflage to fear.  Over time I’ve gained a better understanding of certain hues that always mean the same thing, and I’ve also grown better able to discern intent and thought based on the colors the lizards assume.

Oh, but I digress…

A male green anole (Anolis carolinensis) displaying from deep within some bushes (2009_09_08_028942)

Seeing this male in full display reminds me of what I was talking about: being a bit more creative.  He happens to be sitting in an image I initially threw away.  Something called me back to it, though, and after a bit of fiddling with it I discovered he had something to offer after all.

So rambling aside, I’m saying you can expect to see a bit more creativity in my images, although you will continue to see the vast majority as they have always existed: just as the scene was in front of the lens.  Adding a creative flavor to them will exist as nothing more than a neat experiment, perhaps something I do “on the side” for fun but that does not detract from my overall sense of naturalism.