Tag Archives: Tangerine

Dicing with danger

A Xuthus Swallowtail Butterfly in Hawaii

I saw this Xuthus Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio xuthus) flitting by a window at home. This is how I most often spot them and by the time I go outside, they’re nowhere to be seen. Still, I’m a sucker for butterflies, so I grabbed my camera and headed out.

Looking around, I couldn’t see any sign of it. I was about to give up the search when I saw movement by a tangerine tree. I should have anticipated this because the butterfly is also known as the Citrus Swallowtail (and Asian Swallowtail). I headed over and there was the butterfly, not only hanging around, but also settling briefly as it flew around the tree. I thought it must be feeding or possibly laying eggs, but it just seemed to be stopping at leaves, and later I saw that its markings meant this was most likely a male, so not laying eggs.

However, the butterfly was not alone. Winter is crab spider season and they love building communal webs in and between the tangerine trees. It’s a hazard for me when I’m collecting fruit, but for the butterfly it’s a potential death trap. While I watched, I did see this one get stuck once, but swallowtails are big butterflies and it was able to shake itself loose.

A Xuthus Swallowtail Butterfly in Hawaii

Assassin Bug nymph

An Assassin Bug nymph in Hawaii

I was juicing tangerines in the kitchen when I noticed this little bug atop the pile of fruit. I took the tangerine it was on outside and tried to free it onto the rail there. The bug stuck to the fruit, scampering around as I rotated it. Eventually, it dismounted and I went inside to get my camera.

When I started taking photos, the bug accommodated me by approaching the lens. It quickly got too close so I moved to a different spot. The same thing happened. Every time I moved, the bug followed me until we both tired of the game and I left it in peace and it did the same to me.

At first, I thought it was a baby Praying Mantis because of the curve of its body, but a bit of research revealed that this is an Assassin Bug nymph. Assassin Bugs can deliver a painful bite, so maybe it was after me to take me out!

This one was only about half-an-inch long, as indicated by the average-size tangerine on the rail above and the fact the bug is standing on the thin side of a 2×4.

Fresh tangerine juice

Tangerines on a tree in Hawaii
Tangerines from a tree in Hawaii
Tangerine fruit juice

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Fresh.’ See more responses here.

Here’s a weekly ritual of mine these days. There are two tangerine trees on the property and they constantly churn out fruit. I rarely see the flowers, though I did eventually notice that they do exist (here).

Each week, I pick a small bucket of ripe fruit. Often I can just reach up an pick enough for my needs. Sometimes I use a ladder and rake to snag the higher fruits. Then I take my bounty inside and juice it. I use a hand juicer; I tried a powered one, but it didn’t really work for me. It doesn’t take long to fill my jar. This time I used 29 tangerines, but the number varies from week to week depending on how ripe they are and how juicy.

I could juice them daily for truly fresh juice, but this still tastes pretty good to me.

Also posted in response to this month’s Becky’s Squares challenge theme of ‘Odd.’ See more responses here.

Tangerine flowers

A tangerine flower

A while back I posted a photo (here) of one of the heavily-laden tangerine trees in the yard. I noted that in my eight years living here I’d never seen a flower on the tree despite its prolific production of fruit.

However, last week, when I was up on a ladder harvesting the last of the current crop of fruit, I finally saw the flowers in the top photo. Then, when I’d knocked the last of the fruit down, I saw (bottom photo) one tangerine had a bit of branch still attached which bore, not only a flower, but also a leaf bearing a cluster of butterfly eggs.

I still don’t know how I’ve missed seeing these flowers before. They’re small, but not minuscule, and they have a lovely scent. While I wouldn’t expect to see flowers on higher branches, the lowest branches are at eye level and below. And I still haven’t seen bees and butterflies around the trees, though the eggs clearly show they do visit.

A tangerine flower and butterfly eggs


Tangerines on a tree in Hawaii

The truth is, I get to cheat on Bushboy’s Last on the Card photo challenge (more responses here). I generally see his post in the late afternoon here since he’s in Australia and many hours ahead of me in Hawaii. That was the case today and when I looked, I found that, for various reasons, I hadn’t taken any photos in more than a week.

So I poked my head outside and immediately thought of the tangerine trees in the yard. One is so heavily laden with fruit that a couple of branches are scraping the ground. Despite the trees looking to be in terrible condition, they fruit prolifically. An interesting fact is that the only flower I’ve ever seen on these trees was an orchid growing at the base of one of the branches. What’s that about?

Degarmoara Winter Wonderland ‘White Fairy’

A Degarmoara Winter Wonderland 'White Fairy' orchid grows in the branches of a mandarin orange tree.
Apparently, there are around 8 billion different kinds of orchid. That, of course, doesn’t include hybrids. In my efforts to identify this flower, I tried all kinds of descriptions in my online search engine – ‘white orchid, purple spots,’ ‘epiphyte orchid, white with purple,’ ‘white and purple epiphyte.”

No matter what I tried I didn’t see anything that matched. I rifled through books at the library without success. Finally, I found a book, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Orchids edited by Alec Pridgeon, that also failed to solve my problem. But the photos in the book did seem to indicate that this flower might be an oncidium orchid.

So I searched for ‘oncidium orchid, white with purple spots’ and voila, there it was. Of course, this being orchids, some photos were identified as ‘White Wonderland.’ Others referred to it as ‘Aliceara Winter Wonderland “White Fairy.”’ I plumped for ‘Degarmoara Winter Wonderland “White Fairy”’ because that appeared to be the more numerous choice. In the world of orchids, there seem to be varying opinions as to which plant fits in which species.

Now the only question is, how did this orchid come to be growing deep in the branches of a tangerine tree?

No fly zone

Crab spider webs and fruit
A crab spider sits in its web
A crab spider sits in its web.,

Crab spiders (also known as spiny-backed spiders) came to Hawaii in 1985. They spread through all the islands and are especially numerous here in the winter months. They build dense thickets of webs such as these between two tangerine trees. They look threatening, but aren’t particularly. People do get bitten, mostly if a spider falls on them or gets lodged in clothing.

I usually encounter them when I miss spotting a web and end up with it wrapped around my head. Their webs, which often span a 10 or 20 foot gap, seem especially strong and sticky.

For more information about crab spiders, go to gardenguyhawaii.com/2011/12/crab-spiders.html.