Tuesday, July 31, 2012

How to Catch an Armadillo

When we first commenced to trap armadillos that were digging in my flower beds and tunneling under buildings, I read all the expert articles. Now that we've caught and dispatched dozens, I think I know how.

Buffy inspecting today's catch.

  • We need a good strong trap.  A big armadillo can escape from a trap like the one in the picture unless it's reinforced. We used a metal fence post  and some stronger hardware after the manufacturer sent us more pieces to replace the broken ones. The new pieces weren't strong enough, either.  
  • We don't need bait. I've read of baits from tuna fish to banana peels. An armadillo will go into an empty trap.
  • We don't need to build an elaborate 'runway' to funnel him into the trap. Just set the trap where you think he's going to be traveling. Sometimes I use a couple of 8" boards and a few bricks to direct his travel, but it really isn't necessarry, as evidenced by our catch rate.

After we saw evidence of digging in the Upper Garden, I set the trap in the center grass path on Sunday evening, over toward the right edge of the path. Armadillos will usually follow a bed edge, digging as they go. Monday evening, He-who-mows suggested that we give him one more night, since he dug in the paths on either side the night before. Maybe he'd come up the center path.


Your armadillos' mileage may vary.  
Added photos of the modified Hav a Hart trap. 9/3/13.
No armadillo has escaped since the hinge apparatus was made stronger with
a yellow fence post and the little latch at the top was also modified.

This is the only trap we've ever used, but it took a lot of abuse and a couple armadillos escaped before it was beefed up to take a beating.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Tithonia as a Favorite One Nectar Plant Bed for Butterflies

If I could plant only one summer Nectar Plant for Butterflies, it might be Tithonia rotundifolia, Mexican Sunflower.
Tithonia is a favorite of Gulf Fritillaries

Not only a favorite of Gulf Frits, dark Swallowtails swarm Tithonia, too.

These Tithonia plants self-seeded from last year's plants. They form a bed about 6 x 10 feet, backed by Duranta and Crape Myrtle.

In a drought Tithonia plants sometimes shed some leaves and look a little shabby, but the flowers keep coming, especially with a little deadheading.

Pentas are still my summer favorite and that of Spicebush and Pipevine Swallowtails but the Tithonia bed stays busy any time the sun is out. Remember that maintaining continuous nectar sources for a variety of butterflies requires a diversity of plants.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Agapanthus africanus and Crinum americanum, some Butterflies and a Rose

Agapanthus africanus and Crinum americanum are blooming in the heat of July.

String Lily, Crinum americanum, native to the US 

Successful blooms on Agapanthus are those bulbs that I dug and kept in the greenhouse over the winter, replanting them this spring. All the other bulbs that remained outside save one did not bloom The single bloom earlier bloom has a trio of seed pods are hanging on it.

Pipevine Swallowtail

Spicebush Swallowtail

Linking to Tootsie's Friday Flower Flaunt:


                                           Peace Rose                                             

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Favorite Butterfly Nectar Plants for July

Favorite nectar plants for butterflies in my July garden were not blooming here a few weeks ago except for Lantana. In early spring, Dianthus, Azaleas, Echinacea, Vitex and Oakleaf Hydrangea attracted a large number of butterflies. This is by no means a comprehensive list, just a sampling. Butterflies were diving into Daylily blossoms and clinging to Hyacinth blooms. Tropical plants are favorites now: Duranta, Pride of Barbados, Pentas, Esperanza and Porterweed.

Caesalpina pulcherrima. We call it Pride of Barbados. 

 The yellow is Tecoma stans. Texas friends call it Esperanza.
Caesalpina is a legume, identified by the leaves.
The seeds are in a large flat pod, easily grown.
I started seedlings in late winter, 4 new plants are planted.
Tithonia is an easy reseeder and a butterfly favorite.

Pentas lanceolata or Egytian Star Flower, palest pink here with
Persian Shield and Graptopetalum for effect.

White Pentas
Pentas are usually treated as annuals. I get
frequent return from plant roots but always
hold over cuttings in winter, just in case.

Lavendar dwarf Pentas with Persian Shield.

Pentas come in several shades of pink; red,
white and lavender shades.
Duranta erecta is a fast-growing shrub often
treated as an annual. It is root-hardy here.
Cuttings will bloom through the winter when
brought inside. Butterflies love it.

I did not make pics of Lantana, but it is definitely one of the top five butterfly favorites for summer. I grow both the prostrate yellow, and lavender Lantana montevidensis. There is one plant of the white among the lavender. I took cuttings of white this morning for extending the white garden out back.

Porterweed in the near view, spiky blooms.

Porterweed, or Stachytarpheta jamaicensis is another popular blossom with butterflies, also treated as an annual.  The above are plants I use most to attract summer butterflies.

Other Summer nectar plants:
  • Agastache
  • Vitex
  • Verbena bonariensis
  • Echinacea
  • Asclepias
  • Liatris
  • Coreopsis
  • Buddleia
  • Monarda
  • Eupatorium
  • Zinnias
  • Salvia
  • Plumbago
  • Cassia alata
  • Vernonia
I have grown almost all of the above at one time or another except for Plumbago. Buddleia is one that I gave up because it is so sensitive soil nematodes here. Vernonia, Asclepsias and Eupatorium grow in wild butterfly areas that I do not cultivate.



Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Trumpets of all kinds

Seventy-six trombones caught the morning sun
With a hundred and ten cornets right behind
There were more than a thousand reeds
Springing up like weeds
There were horns of ev'ry shape and kind.
-- from the musical The Music Man

Angel Trumpets Brugmansia

Devil's Trumpets Datura Metel
No yellows plamted this year.
Datura Inoxia

Angel trumpets face downward, toward the earth. Devil's trumpets turn upward.
All have a sweet nocturnal fragrance to attract night-time pollinators.
The foliage and stems have an acrid smell with undertones of peanut butter.

Hope your Fourth of July is bodaciously fun.