Way Back When

Ant Lion aka Doodle Bug

This little creature captured and held my attention for many hours during my pre-teen years. I had no siblings to play with, neighbor kids were quite a bit older than me, my toy box had only one bought toy so I had to find things to do to occupy my time. I don’t ever remember being bored. My wants were like those of every other kid but in the post-depression days of the late 1930’s and early 40’s money was scarce. Food clothing and shelter had first dibs on what was available. Toys were way down at the bottom of the list.

Our house was wood frame with board and batten siding. It sat on concrete and wood blocks. The ground sloped where our house sat so on the west end the floor joist were about 18 inches off the ground and on the east end about three feet-just high enough for a little kid to get under and play. There was no skirting around the house so in the summer it was always shady, dry and cool. Here the dogs camped out as well as the cats and yours truly in his personal sand box. The dirt beneath the house had a layer of the black soil that had turned to powder, perfect for all sorts of imaginary construction work.

It was also the home of the Doodle Bug!

doodlebug homesIn the fine powder beneath the house were these little depressions. They were actually traps that the doodle bug made as well as his home. It stayed near the bottom beneath the powder. When an ant or some other small creature came along and got too close to the edge it would fall in. When it tried to climb out the sides were too steep and the powder gave way trapping it. This activity alerted the doodle bug that food was in the hole.

doodlebug1This vicious looking critter is the Doodle Bug aka Ant Lion. It is blind (no eyes) and creates its trap (home) and captures its prey by feeling the vibrations in the soil. Once the prey is in the mandibles the doodle bug disappears beneath the dirt and enjoys its meal.
The doodle bug creates its trap by pushing itself backwards under the soil and flipping the loose soil away with its head. It goes in a circle with a push back, then head flip until the trap is made. Takes about 15 to 20 minutes to complete. Then it is a waiting game for dinner to come along. They don’t like it if other doodle bugs intrude and the fight is on if one does.


doodlebug_dimeCompared to a dime these creatures are not very big as you can see in the photo.

adult doodlebugThe doodle bug is actually the larva stage of the flying insect in this photo. It commonly called a “lacewing” and resembles a dragonfly. The lacewing is seldom seen since they are active late in the evening when they feed on pollen and nectar. After mating the female will stick its long abdomen into the powdery soil or sand and lays eggs. The eggs hatch into the doodle bug. After a while the doodle bug spins a cocoon around itself with fine thread and sand particles. A month later the adult lacewing emerges from the cocoon, makes its way to the surface and the cycle begins again.

Interesting fact: The doodle bug does not have an anus. It retains all of its metabolic waste in its body and then disposed it in the cocoon when it morphs into the lace wing.

The doodle bug is an interesting creature. I spent many an afternoon trying to fool one into thinking that a foreign object I put in his trap was an ant. It never would take the bait. I would get one out of his hole an put it on top of the loose soil and watch as he built a new trap. I also placed one in an occupied trap and watched the fun begin. The intruder usually made it out of the hole to safety. When something like a pebble or piece grass about the size of an ant was dropped in the trap the doodle bug would ignore it. After a while he would approach it and kick it out of his trap.

doodlebug pillbug

Another interesting creature that was in abundance under the house was the pill bug. They liked to hide under something such as a rock or leaves. When they felt threatened their segmented shells allowed them to roll into a ball protecting their soft undersides.


Wet Weather May 2015

The El Nino occurring in the Eastern Pacific is causing folks in Texas to have a wet spring. Some have had tornado’s, damaging winds and flooding. Here on the farm we had none of that, just rain. For about two weeks the forecast has been 60 to 80% chance of rain each day. The percentages have now dropped to 30 to 40%. The sun has been hiding but appears that we may see some sunshine today, maybe!

With the abundance of moisture everything is growing nicely, including the weeds. I don’t have much in the garden this year: tomatoes, peppers, onions and squash. Had a couple of meals of squash and used a couple of the new onions.

wind whipped vegs 1.jpgOn April 27 we had a thunderstorm pass over us. The wet top heavy vegetation could not stand up to the wind.

Veges 1.jpgSame plants as above but 20 days later. They have doubled in size and are standing up straighter with the help of cages. If they produce as much fruit as they are producing leaves we will have a bumper crop.

Veges 3.jpgHad my cole crops in the near bed. All that is left is Brussel Sprouts. Had a couple of meals of broccoli and a half dozen heads of cabbage. The bed in the background contains onions. The other two beds contain strawberries which are a flop. They don’t like this black clay soil.

Figs.jpgThe fig tree is loaded and should produce lots of fruit.

Resting Canine Queen.jpgThe Queen of Canines Miss Holly Wood.
She has had a hard time adjusting to the loss of her big brother and buddy Benji.
Holly does not like thunder. She can be relaxed as she is above when suddenly her head pops up, eyes wide, ears go back and she starts shaking. The thunder and lightening can be 50 miles away but she can hear and/or feel it.

Spring has Sprung

This past winter seemed to have been really long and cold. It seemed that way because we had one cold front right behind the other and no warmup periods in between. The lowest temperature we had been 28 degrees on a couple of occasions. Some plants in the yard froze back but the oleanders on the North side of the car port didn’t freeze at all but the ones on the south side had some tips that froze. Just the opposite of what normally happens. Go figure.

One of the new peach trees was in full bloom when our last cold snap happened early in the month. But it survived the 28 degree temperature without any damage. It has now set some tiny fruit. Don’t know how much will make it to maturity since this is its first year with fruit. Frost killed the blooms last year.

Fruit trees 1









Sandhill cranes winter on the Gulf Coast near Corpus Christi every year. In the spring they migrate North to their summer breeding grounds in Canada. I had heard a couple of flock heading North a week ago but the 18th of March must have been the official day for them to start their Northerly migration. For several hours around noon a continuous stream of flocks were circling as they rode air thermals to gain altitude. Once the desired altitude is reached they reform into a V formation and glide without expending a lot of energy. They let nature do a lot of work for then just as the glider pilot does. The cranes are noisy birds so the silence on the coast must have been deafening when they all departed.

sandhill cranes





Took this with my phone. The dark spots on the cloud are Sandhill cranes circling in an updraft so they can gain altitude. There are several different flocks of birds. They are tall birds, long legs and long necks about five feet tall.



In addition to the winter seeming to be really cold it has also been wet. We haven’t had an excess of rain, just rain every few days to keep things good and wet. I have been hoping for a dry spell since the first of the year and in a couple of days I would have had my garden ready to plant. Well that hasn’t happened and even the weeds look kind of puny. So far this month we have had over seven inches of rain. Sooner or later it will stop raining and the soil will dry enough for me to plant things. If it is later than sooner I’ll just have to plant heat loving plants. The way things are looking that may be a lot of okra!

Wet garden 1









The forecast is that there will be an abundant Bluebonnet crop this year. There are lots of plants, even in the yard where I mow. In about two weeks they will be in peak bloom. Two days ago I spotted the first one blooming on the meadow. It’s kind of small but will grow out some. Will take and post more photos when they pop.

first bluebonnet


Joining the Navy

During the fall of 1958 I was a student at Texas A&M taking the last courses needed to graduate. Employment opportunities after graduation did not look good since all employers I had interviews with told me the same thing- complete your military obligation and then come back to see us. Continue reading


After the swearing in ceremony there was paperwork to complete and sign. Most of it had already been prepared and all I did was sign my name. I received orders to the Naval Air Basic Training Command at the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida, a one way plane ticket to Pensacola and a free ride to Love Field. Continue reading

Checking In and Checking Out

The Navy accounted for all its people by issuing them orders. This was a written directive that stated when you were to “detach” from your current command, “report to” the new command and a date NLT (not later than) to report.The time between detachment date and the NLT check in date could be as little as one day or as many as 30 or more days. Allowed time was for travel, dislocation and any leave the individual requested and was granted. It could also include some temporary duty while you were enroute.

So….. Continue reading

Aircraft I Have Flown

My Introduction to Flying an Aircraft

A CBS 60 Minutes segment aired this past Sunday about the US Military’s latest fighter aircraft. The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is a family of single-seat, single-engine, multi-role fighters under development to perform ground attack, reconnaissance, and air defense missions with stealth capability. The F-35 has three main models; Continue reading

Greenhouse Activity Starting the New Year 2015

Greenhouse Activity Starting the New Year 2015

The Christmas and New Year holidays are over and 2014 is in the history books.With the new year off to a running start it is time to be seriously thinking about keeping the greenhouse going and Starting seeds for the spring garden. Ole Man Winter is scheduled to make an appearance tomorrow with the coldest weather activity this winter. No frozen precip, just cold and wind. Continue reading