December 6, 2015

Martha O'Kennon

Can you say topsy-turvy? I knew you could. Well, that has been the story of our November. The Jadesy clone seems to have begun expanding its root system after being chopped off the mother plant. The mother plant is blooming like crazy in its new home. Meanwhile, the bugs have been making their beds for a nice cold winter. High up in my next-door neighbor's tree is what appears to be a paper wasp/hornet's nest. I hope I won't be in trouble for providing food and water for so many wasps!

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.

Each day and many evenings in the past two weeks, I've made the circuit of the shop exterior. Many of the species that were showing up in the spring are now back in evidence. For instance, various species of gnat are back. Here are a fungus gnat (December2) and a dark-winged fungus gnat (November 24), and a tiny mosquito (November 26).

December 6, and here are two fly mysteries.

The only Hymenoptera I saw in the last two weeks was a couple of ants. They were really hoofing it but I managed to get a couple of pictures. Both of these, which I think are distinct individuals, were out there on Turkey day (November 26 this year).

The great yellow spider came up onto the shop wall - this one is from November 26. She also was spotted there on the 30th. Also out on the 26th was finally this ghost spider, with its dark dark brown fangish-looking mouthparts. Another one (or maybe it's the same individual) was sitting on the back door on the 30th. Maybe there is a connection. The warmish days seemed to alternate with the cold ones. Last is a mystery jumping spider. I didn't get a shot of its headlights, but it jumped all over the place trying to avoid the light of the camera.

On November 26, this mystery spider showed up. Its round abdomen looked like a translucent ball of dark liquid - maybe it is a cobweb spider. Another one? appeared on the same night, but it may be the same species if not the same individual. Then on November 30, one with a blacker abdomen.

On November 27, one of the not-warm days, this poor Grass Spider was dripping with rain and the most miserable-looking spider I've ever seen. It was so wet it almost looked to be melting before our eyes. By December 1, it or a clone looked a great deal better. On November 30, this pirate spider joined the crowd. And on December 1, the ever-faithful Common House Spider came out (to say goodbye?- I think not). That about does it for the spiders, but not a bad showing, Spiders!

Oh! I was going to end up the spider family, but feel I gave the harvestmen short shrift. We have harvestmen almost every day. Here are four of them, the first on November 26, and three on December 4. The last one, with a white and black body, is not familiar to me. The one in picture 2 was still there tonight.

This slug appeared on November 26, after a wet spell. Next, this larva that came out on December 1 seems to be doing an acrobatic routine, with its body at right angles to the wall. December 6: the mystery larva is still here.

The bugs made a respectable showing. Of course we saw another of those black or black with brown wings bugs, but also a damselbug and a mystery other bug.

But I've been saving the weirdest for the last! Remember how our green assassin bug nymphs have been getting redder and redder along the back? Well, a few days ago, November 30, to be exact, I found this one that shocked me. The dorsal area of the abdomen is quite red and seems lumpy, for lack of a better word. Searching bugguide under "assassin bug nymph", I haven't been able to find a match. There is a black and red bug, also an assassin bug, with the same face we know and love, but with the lumpy red abdomen. Unfortunately this "match" doesn't come up with GREEN and red. The black and red one is not the ordinary (Zelus genus) but is another type of assassin called the wheelbug. Maybe this is a nymphal stage I haven't seen before? Tonight, December 5, I went out to check on it. The original one is not there, after staying in the same spot for 5 days. These two pictures are the mystery assassin on November 30 and on December 4.

Yesterday, December 4, another of the mystery bugs joined the first a few feet away. I thought when I first spotted it, that it was within the grip of a spider. Upon cropping and examining the pictures, it seems to be safely away from spiders, but covered with what I opined were grains of sand. Now I think it may be shedding a skin. This one is not so red in the abdomen as the earlier one, so this may be our "usual" Zelus bug. Anyway, the same bug yesterday and today (December 5). Note for December 6: I'm just getting ready to close this blog - neither the old one nor the newest one were to be seen today - good thing I went out last night.

Here are the backward and forward links. As two weeks ago, I've penciled in December 27, two weeks from now, but it will more likely be March or April of 2016 before I find enough bugs to write about. Again, I'd love to hear from any of you - I only send this to people I really want to keep in touch with! Let's see what next week brings! Otherwise, happy winter to northern hemispherians, and happy summer (Oh, how amazingly much I love your summers) to my antipodean friends! I know, this is a repeat of last time's goodbye message, but one can only make up new stuff when it's not so cold! (Did you buy that?)

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copyright Martha O'Kennon 2015