December 20, 2015

Martha O'Kennon

The weather continues to alternate between almost balmy and a little cooler than chilly. Today the precipitation tried its best to turn to snow, but it was much too warm for that. And as the weather fluctuates, so do the appearancees of our little bug friends, mostly on the wall of the workshop. I have a hypothesis that they go underground (little round holes in the freezing ground at the base of the shop give this away) to keep warm, but don't mind coming up to celebrate the warmth of the balmy days. The pictures above are of the beautiful Marbled Orbweaver, which I'll tell you more about at the end of this blog; and also Jadesy in almost full bloom. Her flowers are like little powder-puffs, and actually smell a bit of baby powder. They will stay on the plant until well into February, but of course if you were to joggle her, or if an inquisitive kitty-cat were to investigate them, thay would fall off very easily.

Remember that there is information in the name of the file for each image. You can see it by mousing over the image - look at the lower left of the screen. I would try clicking on the image. If the little "+" sign appears, it means you can enlarge again. While it is in "+" mode, click on something you want to see more clearly and it will zoom to that section. Then the info is displayed in the address line above. If the image has been cropped so that clicking on it doesn't result in a larger picture, you can always hit control-plus to increase the size of the image.

I continue to scout for the brave ones that pop up from the ground onto the stage, a little groggy and so a little easier to photograph. Spiders have been the most valiant up-poppers, but the occasional bug or beetle will sometimes surprise me. A number of fat-bodied ants were frequent fliers. They may be relatives of the false honey ants that visited in the spring. Using the flash tends to accentuate the shadows and also to darken the translucent bodies, as you see in picture 2. But there are ants that are already black naturally. Here's one of them.

A couple of tiny beetles came to the picnic. Here is the typical red ladybird, which was climbing on the house last weekend, and a tiny weevil

The true bugs persevere, especially the tiny assassin bug nymphs. I haven't seen the one with the bright red abdomen again, but a few little green ones without the red tail, although they are taking on the red stain as seems to be usual. By the way, that red-tailed individual was identified as just the same Zelus luridus as the others. This black and brown mystery bug is still around. It has certainly been hardier than most other kinds of bugs. The damsel bug is still here, just as it was one of the first bugs to show up in the spring.

You know, I never mention the pillbugs, but that's because they are always near. Here's one. And here's one of those green caterpillars we saw earlier.

One creature you can also always count on - the harvestmen! Even on a day when nothing else ventures out, you may still find harvestmen. Some are adults, but many are juveniles. There seem to be several species represented here, unless the males and females have different colors and shapes. You can tell the babies by the size of the body, which seems larger when the legs are shorter. Here are a few, the last being the last day I photographed any - December 13! This is madness. What a strange year!

This looks like a jumping spider, even though the eyes are not the blazing headlights I always expect. It's holding its head up anyway! Image #2 is of another of the same kind (I think) getting out of town! Third is a baby long-jawed spider. I still think they should be called "long front-legs spiders"! If you recall, these little guys were one of the first out in the spring...

After a few days, the Nursery web spider is back on the wall, at just the location she had been in every time I've ever seen her. The second picture is of a kind of ghost spider, probably Anyphaenidae. Here you can see the strange bluish reflection caused by the flash! Also you can see her spinnerets at the far rear end. Third image- a full frontal shot. The mouthparts aren't black like the other ghost spiders we've seen in the last episode (December 6), but it still is related. Next, the little fellow with the round and translucent-appearing, probably a cobweb spider of some kind, and probably a juvenile. Finally the tiny spider that I found getting warmed up in my bed upon my returning with the first morning coffee. It does look wolfish, but I shall have to look it up carefully. The noive!

I was saving this beauty for the last, but here we are at the end of the two week's worth of spiders. The other day, while pressing the hydraulic door open button outside my allergist's office, I suddenly realized that right next to my hand was this large lovely orange spider with impressive red legs. I had my camera with me (as usual) and got some nice shots, due mostly to this spider's tendency to stay very still every once in a while. But I wanted to capture her so as to take her home and prevent the next person from mashing her. Fortunately a doctor's office always has little specimen jars, and so I was able to rescue this specimen and get inside just in time for my shots. I was so excited I must have had a good rush of adrenaline - how do I know this? Usually I get a very large lump at the needle site, but this time for the first time in a year, neither site swelled to the point where I had to pat it with extra cortisone when I got home. This lovely spider woman is called the Marbled Orbweaver. At home, I took out back and put her in the skeleton of one of the wild wildflowers. No sooner had I got her to cling to the plant, suddenly a swift wind and barrels of rain chased me indoors, and so now who knows where she went?

I had penciled in January 3, two weeks from now for a follow-up blog, but it turned out to be January 16, 2016 before I found enough bugs to write about. Meanwhile, enjoy the beginning of winter (summer). When you get a moment, email me. I'll miss talking to you but won't forget any of you. Keep well and warm (cool)! It won't be that long. I promise!

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On to January 16, 2016

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copyright Martha O'Kennon 2015