“Pain In The Neck”

by ESP on August 17, 2014 · 7 comments


“How you doin?”

Bare with me as I take a quick jog down nerd boulevard to examine one of the stranger activities performed by the damselfly.

Damselfly Schematic

Before mating damselflies spend a considerable amount of time ‘checking each other out’ through close physical contact.

The selection of a suitable mate comes down to (as I have learned) the mesothoracic plates on the anterior surface of the females mesothorax, and how well the male bits (cerci) fit with these plates.

Here is a close up of the male’s abdominal fiddly bits,

ebriumFemaleThoraxthat interface with the top of the female’s thorax:


 DSC07046I found these two with their lock and key mechanism fully engaged in my stock tank. It is believed this interlocking system allows each sex to assess the species identity and suitability as a mate.  Coupled together in this fashion they can fly perfectly in tandem.

Here is a video of the entire life cycle of these beneficial mosquito-eating insects:

Talking of stock tanks.

I use this one to catch rainwater from one of my gutters for hand watering purposes.


I flip it over when it is nearly drained and invariable perform an impromptu, non-adjudicated

andros_highland_fling copy

after encountering the scurrying beasties that are always lurking underneath it.

I have recently got into the habit of jumping back when I flip it,

green_snakejust to be on the safe side.

This time under the tank my mystery prize was…


Two huge writhing mounds of Greenhouse Millipedes,

Oxidus gracilis





images (1)

I know they are nothing like the African Giant Black Millipede Bear, and yes, feel free!

Moving Along:

As the Texas heat rises to August temperatures,

DSC07075 copythis artemesia ‘Silver King’ snow drift helps to cool things down.

As does the silvery-‘blue ice’ cypress…(must not focus on the grape vine…


must not focus on the grape vine…

Grape Vine

Grape Vine2…argh!)

…oh who am I kidding? It is just hot.

The blooms on this Pride of Barbados adequately sum up August in Austin.

DSC07073I have quite a few of these around the Patch but this particular plant, in the least favorable of soils in my Hell-Strip, is by far the most vibrant.


Moy Grande Hibiscus also packs some summer heat.

Still, as far as summers go, this one has been relatively lenient, feeling shorter than usual with our late rains.

DSC07041Plants are still full with no additional watering to date (apart from plants in containers) but more miraculously…I haven’t tied a single iced-turban this year, not one!

As for future winter attire?



After attending the Hill Country Weavers knitting and loom Camp she has it covered.

Happy 7th young assassin.

m_assassinscreed3_review copy


A few before and after renderings of a design I recently generated for a Georgetown residence:









Stay Tuned For:

“Wail of a Weekend


hqdefaultAll material © 2014 for eastsidepatch. Unauthorized
intergalactic reproduction strictly prohibited, and
punishable by late (and extremely unpleasant)
14th century planet Earth techniques.


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1 Pam/Digging August 25, 2014 at 9:38 pm

Nice design, Philip, especially the mod decking around the pool and the d.g. apron at the front of the house. But what, no ‘Blue Ice’ A. cypress here? :-)

2 ESP August 25, 2014 at 9:55 pm

Thanks Pam.
I tried integrating the ‘blue ice’ – I really did, but with the naturalistic Texas backdrop of this property they just looked out of place. They are superb for screening and modern architecture provided there is enough room. I noticed a nice stand of them just past Enfield pool the other day and I just received a call from Emerald Gardens…they are in stock….shhhh.

3 Cheryl August 26, 2014 at 9:58 pm

How come your new post claims Aug 17th?? I just got it tonight. I know I checked last night..and the night before and the night before that…MY calendar says today is Aug 26th.
Anyhow, Love that decking around the pool! And the DG looks so much better than the um, grass.
Interesting about the insects… you are just a wealth of fun stuff!

4 ESP August 26, 2014 at 11:23 pm

I have no idea Cheryl…just call me the Doctor…’Dr Who-the-hell wears a trenchcoat and wanders around in the dead of night wielding a sago strobilus… (Usually around D&B’s)!
Thanks on the design and insect front.

5 Rock Rose August 27, 2014 at 6:11 am

I always love your design renderings. It makes me want to do mine all over. Little girls do love those crochet hats. I bought my grand daughter one for Christmas and it never left her head the whole time we were there. I wonder what you will get for Christmas this year.

Thanks Jenny but I bet somebody does not want to here that :-)
I am thinking, if I am lucky…an iced crochet turban?…Now that would be a talking point for my crew!

6 TexasDeb August 27, 2014 at 6:47 am

I’m with the Rock (Rose). Seeing your designs makes me wish I could sweep at least some of what we have away to start again from scratch. I’ve learned many lessons and my garden spaces still show signs of most of them (and not necessarily in that “good” way).

Did the birds enjoy your disestablishment of millipedes?

We are all on that learning journey TD!
The millipedes were gone in minutes.

7 Desert Dweller / David C. August 30, 2014 at 1:34 pm

Great vignettes of the patch, a project and millipedes. The ones out here are almost black, 6-9″ long…but out in the wild and in sand, so safe. There’s some room at your project for ‘Blue Ice’ AZ Cypress and a grove of loquats, I believe…..

Thanks David.
You know me too well :-)

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