Fall has now officially arrived and the plants, birds and other animals are showing signs of change. The Monarch caterpillars are munching away on milkweed leaves getting larger before turning into a chrysalis. As I watched this one eating in the garden at school, I noticed a small fly checking it out. My guess is that it is a parasitic fly and she wanted to lay her eggs on the caterpillar.
One of my students came up to me during one of our outdoor classes today and said, "Look at this bug I found, Mrs. Light!" It was a brilliant red and gunmetal blue-black bug nymph. I took it back to the room and looked it up on Bugguide.net. It turned out to be a Florida Predatory Stink Bug nymph. It was extremely active, I had to put it into a petri dish to photograph it.
Over the weekend I taught a teacher workshop at the UT Arboretum for some of the members of the Tennessee Environmental Education Association, the annual convention was held in Oak Ridge. After it was over, I was poking around the office building in hopes of finding something interesting to photograph. I saw what looked like a twig on the side of the building, I was delighted to see it was a male Walking Stick!
The big Black Gum tree outside our living room window is loaded with ripening berries now. I always enjoy watching the birds and squirrels eating them since I have such a close view. The berries attract a wide variety of birds such as robins, bluejays, bluebirds, and (unfortunately) starlings. Here is a bluebird I photographed enjoying the berries.