May 18, 2015

Martha O'Kennon

I was about to pull these weeds along the west wall of the shop. Then the morning sun hit an upstairs window and reflected down onto the weeds, making this shadow. So the weeds got a reprieve for the while.

Note: I hope that you have all noticed that each picture's name has some extra information which you can see in the lower left corner of your browser if you hold your mouse over the picture. When you click on the picture to get a larger (in most cases) image the name of the image will also show at the top of your screen. Sometimes the larger image will give you a little more detail. Of course, some of the critters (like the jumping spiders) just can't sit still!

Ants were on the move as usual. Here is one on a peony bud. People say that if the ant didn't loosen up the seams on the bud, it wouldn't open. Who knows? We do know that ants love peony buds. This next one was a good inch or more long, and was found inside the air conditioner cover at the neighbor's house. Now THIS monster has got to be the real carpenter ant. Next come two bees. One is named "mystery" but had such a winsome face I couldn't leave it out. The "sweat" bees tend to look almost metallic and so I'm guessing that is what this is. Some of them are a gorgeous metallic green - wait a while.

We continue the show with something that happened this morning. A greenish-pinkish assassin bug nymph - I don't know if it is one of the orange ones turning green or one of the green ones turning orange. Anyway, he is pretty well camouflaged, isn't he? He turns to look at me and assumes a defensive posture. Suddenly he seems to duck. A spider has dived down to get him and has actually thrown some silk at him. I don't usually interfere but I am fond of this one and so I break the silk and move the assassin bug to a safer spot.

I had just pinched back the New England asters to make them bushier later, and a couple of days later the new tender growth seemed to be wilting and browning up. When I looked, each end had at least one red and black aphid, or so I thought. I sent it in to Bugguide and only a little bit later got the news - they aren't aphids at all but closely related - mirid nymphs. Finally - this week's only new stink bug.

Moving on to the beetles: At the college where we were having one of our AALL classes (U3A to the antipodeans - stands for Albion Area Lifelong Learners) in a very warm room. When we opened some of the windows, this pile of asian lady bugs is what we saw. Did I tell you that they tended to come indoors in great numbers? These had stayed in the window sill all winter! The next beetle is called the two-spotted soldier beetle. They mated the next day after this photo was taken. The next little beetle (only a few mm long) should remind old folks of the shmoos which appeared from time to time in Al Capp's "Li'l Abner" - they were amazing creatures - they laid eggs but also bottles of milk and other staples. Finally, a tiny beetle on the peony, only about 2 mm.

Another leaf miner! The first one appeared last week and the second is a new one. Bad news for whatever leaves the larvae decide to mine.

These yellowish flies have been numerous lately. So have the metallic green ones. The crane flies were still at it at the Nature Center. If you are ever in Albion, head for the Whitehouse Nature Center, a wonderful resource for learning about the flora and fauna in the region. Here is the tiny (6 mm) hover fly on a leaf and another showing it hovering! They really hover and look absolutely still.

Do you remember the black march fly from last week? Well, here is a near relative but with a red thorax. Here she is washing her arms and here is one of the black-thoraxed one from last week, also either finishing up a snack or also washing up. Oh - why did I say "she"? It turns out that among the hover flies'and also the march flies the females have much smaller eyes. But here is a new fly. The male approaches the female and they mate. Since the eyes are the same size for male and female, you have to go by something else, like size of abdomen. The female is loaded with (probaly unfertilized) eggs. In the last pictures you see the male on top

Let's see, what were the spiders doing all week? Well, one of the little mysteries is solved. Now they are big enough to identify. They are called Bowl and Doily Weavers. They make a web style called "sheet web". It isn't a single sheet of silk, but a wild jumble.

And a hodge-podge of other spiders. A tiny orb weaver over in the side yard. A northern crab spider. A mystery spider with its egg case, which it was trying to keep away from the edger of the neighbor across the street making the rest of us look slovenly.

A few random pictures. The pulmonaria, whose blossoms change color from pink to blue or blue to pink. Since it's all blossomed out I can't remember. It's just cool that on one flower you get blossoms of many shades. At the nature center where I'm training as a butterfly monitor, we spotted a little spring peeper and a may apple flowering. Last but not least, a small mystery insect. Haven't ID'ed it yet.

So all is going about as it should. The tadpoles are 2 weeks old now and growing and feeding on the algae at the bottom of the pond. The weather is steadily above freezing now. Life is good enough!

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copyright Martha O'Kennon 2015