Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Hard Times a Comin’ to the Prairie?

It looks like this is shaping up to be a rough weather year. The entire state is experiencing drought conditions. My prairie is in an area of severe drought according to the US Drought Monitor. Just to the west of Fort Worth, wildfires have burned over 150,000 acres (strikethrough because news sources do not agree on this number and it keeps going up). When the wind blows from the west, smoke fills the already polluted DFW skies. 

The City of Plano implemented Stage 1 water conservation measures today. Not because of drought, but because invasive zebra mussels from Russia are clogging the pipes from Lake Texoma which supplies raw water to the North Texas Municipal Water District and Plano.

When it does rain, the rain is accompanied by high winds, if not tornadoes, lightning, and hail.

This was the scene in my prairie vegetable garden last Thursday night. This is not nearly as bad as others experienced, but the hail was large enough to cause damage to some of my plants.

A dry line passed through the area tonight kicking off another round of storms. Again, I was lucky and got a little rain and just a little hail. After the rain passed, I went outside and took a few pictures.

Flowers are filling in on the prairie and the pale-leaf yucca is finally blooming. The flower stalk first started poking up through the leaves a month ago.

 Here is a close up of the flowers or are they bug umbrellas?

 More blooms on the prairie.

This butterfly was taking shelter on a switchgrass leaf. I need to work on identifying this butterfly. It does not look familiar and the wing shape seems a bit unusual. Update: the butterfly is a variegated fritillary.

Last week's rain triggered a flower on this rain lily. After I enlarged the photo, I noticed the flower was covered in thrips and some other insect (maybe a stink bug) was on the underside of a petal. I will let them be. That is nature on the prairie. Looks like the yucca flower has thrips too.

Rain causes bee brush to produce sprays of tiny, fragrant flowers as well. Bluebonnet, mealycup sage, red yucca, cutleaf daisy, and prairie verbena are also blooming in this photo.

This is a non-native hardy amaryllis that provides vibrant red color every spring. 


  1. I'd trade you minor hail for rain. We've had 3" total in more than 6 months, all at one time...

    Your butterfly reminds me of the Question Mark, a brushfoot.


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