The things I learn while writing this blog! In case you didn’t know—and I didn’t—the word “lounge” is a collective noun for a group of lizards. This is akin to a school of fish, a flock of sheep, or a pod of whales.
That’s just one of the things I learned after Helen, a reader in Louisiana, wrote to say that a number of lizards were sitting on her hives and she was concerned they might have an appetite for bees. She also wrote that, “The lizards are the green ones that can turn brown and pump blood in the skin under their mouth to attract a mate. They don’t get very big—perhaps 5 inches, nose to tip of tail. I live in Louisiana about 45 miles north of New Orleans.” Hmm. She had me on this one. I had no idea.
I went to the Nature Blog Network (a reliable source of people who know all sorts of esoteric things) to find someone who knew about lizards and what they eat. I ended up e-mailing David Steen who is a professor at Auburn University, a specialist in reptiles, and author of the blog Living Alongside Wildlife. This is what he said:
The lizards your reader is describing are Green Anoles, Anolis carolinensis. The species eats invertebrates, but most prey items are smaller than honeybees. I think it’s possible that an anole could occasionally eat a bee, but I don’t see this as much of a concern for the hive/population. I imagine the lizards find the hives nice places where they can bask in the sun. I hope your reader is comfortable letting the lizards persist in the area.
Good news. And now that I was armed with a species name, I did a little reading on my own. I learned that the green anole is native to North America and is most commonly found in the southeastern United States and some of the Caribbean islands. It is generally 5-8 inches long (13-20 cm), is arboreal (found living in and around trees—and apparently beehives), and can be very territorial. According to Wikipedia, the lizards eat small moths, crickets, grasshoppers, and locusts.
But the plot thickens! Quite by accident I next clicked on a site called Reptile Expert. The author of an article on the anole lizards mentioned they are partial to wax moths. Wax moths! How cool is that? Maybe those lizards are hanging around the hives waiting for a wax moth to happen by. Maybe we all need a lounge of lizards staking out our hives and feasting on the bad guys. What a concept.
Look closely at the photos below and you can see these cute little reptiles. In the first photo you can see two tails hanging down from beneath the telescoping cover. And although some look like leaves, I count eight lizards in the second photo. How many do you see?