Monday, December 6, 2010

Flying zebras, shimmering dragons and other garden creatures

This is one of the best times of the year to spot the local inhabitants of my garden. Especially the flying kind. The air is heavy with the unheard flutter of wings. Damselflies are always welcome. So very colourful and, even better, they have an insatiable appetite for bugs even bigger than themselves. I wonder where they pack it all away?

And, the high-fliers are loving this season too. Everywhere I look there are a zillion dragonflies on the wing, darting and swooping , like flying shards of shimmering glass. As I walk in my garden I almost feel as if I'm walking into a cloud of dragonflies but I have yet to feel even one brush against me. Mumbai could do with some drivers like these!

I bet you didn't know I had zebras in my garden! Oh yes, meet the Zebra Blue. One look at those wings and I'm sure you'll know how they got that name, right? The 'Blue' part came from its upper wing colouration.

The Brazilian Button Flower (Centratherum intermedium ) is a huge hit with the butterflies. I just have to linger near them and sure enough, there are always some of them visiting. This is one low-maintenance plant that really multi-tasks. Always filled with flowers and always thick with butterflies!

And if you see these flies hovering over your flowers, bring out the champagne! The syrphid flies are invaluable in the garden. Its larvae, you see, have a decided penchant for snacking on aphids and thrips! And just as good, the grown-ups are pollinators of several species of plants, including certain orchids.
And you thought all flies are villains? This one only has the blood-shot eyes to fit the role, everything else says 'good guy' about him!

Do you remember the Greater Banded Hornets who are regular visitors to my Pink Cassia tree at this time of the year? Well, they're back and so are the attendant hordes of flies and butterflies and other freeloaders.

I have rather mixed feelings about hornets and that's not just because of their nasty sting which can be fatal on occasion. On the plus side, they hunt bugs and many insect pests. On the other hand, they also hunt bees and that's definitely not something I'm happy about.

But again, every year at this time they descend on my poor Pink Cassia and nibble at its bark until a syrupy sap froths out, driving the butterflies crazy. Scenes like this of Common Nawabs jostling with the Common Evening Browns to get a sip of that elixir are everyday affairs.

Which is probably why little Treefrogs hop indoors to get away from all that hustle and bustle!


  1. Sunita girl !
    Hello there : ) I am finally gathering some speed with gathering my lost blogs from the blog roll !
    I love seeing all of these insects .. not that I actually want them to land on me .. we are friends at a distance? haha .. but yo have captured some wonderful pictures here and I have to admit my heart is won by the little tree frog .. I do have a thing for little frogs like that .. hornets scare me .. I run and scream like a little girl (which is too funny for a grown woman who calls herself a gardener?) haha
    Wonderful post to remind me of the good insects like dragonflies, butterflies and well behaved bees !
    Joy : )

  2. PS .. my old name on your blog roll will not bring you to my new blog .. you might want to change that ? wink wink

    Joy : )

  3. I love your visitors and your stories about them. Lovely pictures too.

  4. While we're busy with the hustle and bustle of everyday are laying out this spread of lovely pics of life that thrives amongst us..but rarely observed in such detail!
    thanks Sunita :) Loved your post!!

  5. Your garden must be so lively with the hustle bustle hum drum of these winged visitors, this time of the year. Well...I am not a big insect fan and hardly ever get to capture the bugs n the bees thru my lens. Interesting post!

  6. Hi Sunita, I just noticed you have a Facebook page! I'll head over there after I leave this comment;-) It's so interesting to see the intricacies in these tiny creatures. Up close they are amazing! I hope you are doing well these days. It has been ages since I've stopped by to say hello. We haven't gotten any snow yet here in northern Virginia, but I think we might get a bunch mid-month, according to the forecast. I am NOT ready!

  7. Joy, I'm trying my best to picture you confronting the giant hornets (not 1 or 2 but maybe 20?)in my garden! Yeah, I know, they didn't seem so bad when there were just 1 or 2 of them but now I may just join you in the running and screaming.
    Thanks for the tip about the link. I'll make sure I change it.

  8. Thank you, Keats. So glad you liked it :)

    Thanks Priya :)
    Maybe its just that all of us are observant about different things? I'm just lucky to have my garden to obsess over ;D

    Hi Radhika! Good to see you here.
    Yes, my garden is practically swarming with life now and most of it thanks to the activity of the hornets, I think.

  9. Jan, my friend, it's so good to see you here again! I know how it is with work piling up and the garden calling us, it's hard to find enough time to visit all the blogs one enjoys. I missed one whole month of blooging, can you imagine that?!
    I'm doing fine, just busier than usual after starting on a new project. I've fallen so far behind with my gardening that I'm struggling to catch up. I can imagine you scrambling to get ready for snowy days ahead. Snow looks so pretty in pictures but I don't think I can handle it. I wish there was such a thing as warm snow!

  10. The tree frog is so cute. Love little jumpy.

  11. The insects are wonderful, but I think I love that cute little frog the best!

  12. It is remarkable that there is still so much space left in Mumbai for all these wonderful creatures, despite the teeming human presence.
    You are blessed to be living in this Urban Oasis, and we are blessed to be reading you, as very few others could have managed to express these happenings with same eloquence.

  13. Thank you, Lakshmi :)

    I agree, Lubna. But they still startle me at times. Imagine walking into the bathroom / kitchen / wherever and finding a treefrog staring at you very solemnly !

    LOL! Looks like our Treefrog has got himself a fan club,right Shady C :)

    Mumbai never ceases to amaze me either, GT. Just about anything is possible here :)
    But I agree, I'm truly blessed and I'm so grateful for that!

  14. Sunita I meant to come back and tell you I linked you with an insect post of my own. You inspired me to have a look at my pictures for these little wonders ! LOL
    Joy : )

  15. Hi Sunita, glad seeing you back in your realm of wonderful dragon-and other dazzling flies. So many little creatures you write about in such a pleasing and interesting way. Have you ever thought to publish a book about your observations? I would love to have your book on my coffee table!

  16. Lovely, wasn't quite sure what to expect from that post title.

  17. I've heard somewhere that if there are dragon flies around, the ecosystem around is sound.
    So I guess we have hope :-)

    Beautiful pictures, as usual. Though I have an aversion to frogs this one is really cute

  18. Wow! I'm going to check that one now, Joy. Thanks :)

    Trudi, you say the nicest things! Thank you, that really means so much to me :)
    Yes, a book is something I'd love to do and I've been collecting stuff for one but somehow it just hasn't progressed very far yet. Hopefully I'll push myself into working on that more now.

    Thank you, Stone Art.
    Glad that title piqued your curiosity a bit. I was just struck by that happy conjunction of names and verbs :D

  19. All our critters are hibernating for the winter. It's been very cold here. Nice to see your pretty pics though. :)

  20. Hi Bindu! Its good to see you here again :)
    yes, if the dragonflies are any indication, our ecosystem has to be the best :D

    Racquel, maybe you could just visit all the tropical garden blogs for your daily fix of garden life, at least till spring comes around again :)

  21. Nice to see you post again, keep them coming.

    Nice captures...Thomas

  22. Thanks, Thomas :)
    I've been busy trying to work on projects at 2 different ends of the city which is why I haven't had time to update as often as before. Fun, but exhausting!

  23. Sunita,
    Captivating creatures, and as always, beautiful images.
    All best wishes for a joyful 2011!
    aka Alice's Garden Travel Buzz
    ((Would that I could come upon a little tree frog in my home;-))

  24. Thank you, Alice :)
    Maybe you could come and get your own Treefrog from here. My garden is so over-run with them that they seem to be moving indoors too.

  25. It was nice to see you mentioned in Times of India. Wish you lots of success in greening Mumbai.

  26. You have create a very beautiful place that is why you have many cute visitors. This small creatures must be very thankful to you for the beautiful playground you provide for them.


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