I was out in the garden harvesting beans this afternoon and glanced over at the kale and saw to my dismay that there was a big brown leaf right in the heart of the new leaves. Oh crum, I thought, don't tell me my kale is dying! It was ok yesterday, perhaps it had a reaction to the aphid treatment I gave it.
But on closer inspection the brown leaf turned out to be one of my lizard buddies, Scleroporus occidentalis, a Western Fence Lizard. Peek-a-boo, I see you! And of course I did not have my camera handy.
So I dashed inside and grabbed the camera and when I got back my buddy was still there and it obligingly stayed put as I shoved the camera in its face and clicked away.
Isn't he (she?) a handsome critter. They eat spiders and insects so perhaps it was trying to check out the aphid cafe that had been getting established in there until I took measures to put it out of business yesterday.
These critters provide a lot of entertainment, they love to sit on top of high places, such as fences or rocks, or whatever and they do push-ups or puff themselves up or just sit there and watch you.
Another name for these lizards is Blue Belly and you can see just a hint of that blue, just barely the start of the edge of the bright blue belly in the photos.
The Blue Bellies are good for more than just insect control and amusement, they also help to reduce the incidence of Lyme disease within their range. Ticks that carry the Lyme pathogen feed on these lizards, but the lizards don't get Lyme disease, there is actually a protein in the lizard's blood that destroys the Lyme disease causing bacterium and neutralizes it in the tick so the tick becomes Lyme free.
I love having these critters around. They are constantly skittering around everywhere. This time of year is especially fun because the babies have hatched and there are mini lizards all over the place.
Sorry to clean out your aphid cafe bud, but rest assured, they will be back in no time. Perhaps you can munch on some of the many sowbugs instead? And I saw some earwigs over by the zucchini yesterday, have at 'em!
I recognize this particular lizard, it has some very distinct turquoise scales on its back and has claimed the vegetable garden as its territory. It's a very brave individual and often times lets me get very close, I can nearly touch it before it dashes away. The other lizards in the garden are much more skittish.
Thanks for the photo shoot bud, see you later...