Hiding in plain sight
the little eyes of Texas
suddenly, I see!
When I first moved to San Antonio, I did not realize that I was surrounded by the little eyes of Texas. I actually thought I was alone, until the day that I almost stepped on a black tarantula sitting quietly by my back door. Rather unnerving! I don’t know how long the spider was there, but it was probably wondering how anyone could completely fail to notice something as large as a tarantula.
Thanks to the surprise visit from this spider, I realized that I needed to start paying more attention to the Texas environment around me. Wake up!
With eyes wide open
I can look around and see
a camouflaged lizard in a tree,
silently watching over me.
Now I notice when an anole lizard climbs up a sharp yucca leaf to greet me, and I take the time to stop and say hello.
Deep within a sago palm,
sheltered by sharp-pointed fronds
a lovely moth rests quietly
safe from flying predators
searching for a tasty treat. When I come across a caterpillar that looks like a porcupine with quills, I am wise and aware enough to keep my distance. I wish I could say that I know what kind of butterfly or moth the caterpillar in my photo might become; but truth be known, I have no clue!
The leaf-footed bugs that visit our yard when the white yucca flowers bloom, are so prolific that they actually command attention (they look like stink bugs with leaves on their back legs). They don’t play loud music, but the leaf-footed bugs love to suck the juice out of the yucca blooms and party for days with their friends. Doesn’t matter if I repeatedly shake them off of the flowers and tell them to go away, they simply come back. Rather pesky, they are! Since the flowers don’t last that long anyway, I found it easier just to leave them alone–because they leave as soon as the flowers fade. But for those who have citrus trees and other fruit bearing plants that are being damaged, some sort of pest control is usually used.
I must say—I am very happy to see that the praying mantis hangs out in Texas too (I used to see them all the time in Virginia). This amazing insect is fascinating to watch. An image of stamina and precision–a praying mantis can hold the same motionless pose for long periods of time, waiting patiently for an unsuspecting meal to come wandering by. And then, watch out! The mantis is extremely accurate and quick.
The more that I learned about the natural environment of Texas, the more I wanted to know. So last year, when I heard there was a Master Naturalist program (Alamo Area Chapter) here in San Antonio, I signed up for the fall semester (Class #43). The program was everything that I hoped it would be, and it was fun to spend time every week with a group of people whose interests were similar to mine. The training covered a wide range of topics, which included discussions about native trees, plants, animals, birds, insects, reptiles, fish, geology, water, weather, etc. To top it all off, there were various field trips guided by people who knew the San Antonio area. Since I am not from Texas, the field trips opened up a whole new world of places and things that I did not even know existed here!
Thanks to the little eyes of Texas (especially the black tarantula), I now have the honor of walking through and working with nature as a Texas Master Naturalist–with my eyes wide open.
Attached below is a short video created by George and Marcos Ozuna. George Ozuna is a member of the Native Plant Society of Texas and a Texas Master Naturalist, and his son Marcos is an educator. Their work and love of nature is greatly appreciated.