Caught and retrorsely

In spite of the cool 63 degrees start to the day, it did get warm.

To be certain, it is not often you see a Praying Mantis caught by a spider. I never saw the spider. However I went by several hours later and the mantis was still stuck. But at 3pm, the mantis was gone. Maybe the mantis got away or it was tasty meal for someone, who knows.

So do you recognize this? It often gets stuck on you and Gracie frequently will ask for help when she gets one. It is the Cenchrus spinifex which commonly known as Sand Burs. Ouch! We all hate to pick them off with our fingers.

I decided to get a closer look. Quite impressive. You can see the see inside. There are three species listed in the flora for North Central Texas. This one’s bristles or stickers are flatter. According to Guide to Texas Grasses (Shaw) , C. longispinus has longer spikelets and more of them. Therefore do they hurt more to pull out? I don’t know.

I cut open the seed to get a better look. It was a seed LOL.

A look at the node on a blade.

Here is another view!

I found some that were blooming.

A close up of the bristle/spikelet. Now you can see what retrorsely is…the barbs pointing backwards. So it goes in smooth but catches on the barbs when you try to pull it out.

A view of the tip. Indeed, a great strategy to catch a ride!

This little critter dashed by while looking under the scope.

Tube-tailed Thrips (Phlaeothripidae)! It was just under 2 mm.

It swung its tail as it went by! Most are spore eaters, but some eat other small insects and mites and still others eat plants. Since I do not know what species, I don’t know its food choice. Equally important however and turning the tables on the thrips, there are mites, ladybugs, lacewings and others that eat thrips.

Keep looking!

The more you know, the more you see and the more you see, the more you know.


    1. Yes, all native. I tried to find out if it was a host plant for anything. All I found was that skippers use grasses, but nothing specific to the sticker grasses.

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