June 21, 2015

Martha O'Kennon

Well, summer is here (at 12:38 p.m on June 21st). The weather so far has been muggy and, unlike some years when we get rain only 2 or 3 times in the summer, they are saying there hasn't been this much rain since 1937. Almost every day last week. The mosquitoes have been horrid, and I'm not going to show any pictures of them until they stop whining around my head as if to say "Shall I try the delicate cut just below the eye?" or "How about that delectable tender bit on the back of the neck?" Finally the pharmacist's assistant suggested Tea Tree Oil. The mosquitoes really do seem to be put off by the aroma (me too) so I can spend more quality time outdoors.

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. Or you can click on the image to get to the (usually) larger image. 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 at the same time to increase the size.

This was a good week for beetles. This pretty blue longhorned beetle with the red collar is commonly known as Rhopalophora longipes, where the longipes means long feet or legs. I'm guessing that the white marks are strings of eggs, but could be wrong. The ladybird you know. It's climbing on the tiger lily, looking for an easy supper. This aphid would be terrific but it's not in the tiger lilies (they're getting tall but we're waiting for the flowers!).

On the next row, this intricately patterned tiny beetle (about 3 mm long, not counting antennae or legs) and a few friends were walking up and down the side of the shop awfully close to a spider. This exemplar has a Howdy-Doody face on the top of its head. The next one is a little nondescript (not my signature colors) but oddly appealing. The third was strolling around the edge of the pond.

These next two are weevils (long-nosed beetles). The first didn't sit still so came out fuzzy, but the second (the Pale Green Weevil) was very accommodating, and showed a number of interesting faces, accentuated by its big black seemingly intelligent eyes.

The leafhoppers and treehoppers have been showing up more and more places. Let's start with those lovely little candy-striped leafhoppers. In this first picture, one is in better focus and shows the rachet? mechanism that allows the hopper to leap long distances, while the other one is assuming a pose you don't often see, sort of squatting on its haunches if it had haunches. Then here is the star of the week. I didn't notice till I zoomed in on the picture that this one was standing on its front legs with its back legs in the air and holding a perfect globe of liquid. I knew that other kinds of leafhoppers exude a drop of syrup to feed its ant attendants, but there was no ant to be seen. About five minutes of observing the little guy and in this picture I noticed what I thought might be the naughty bits - the person on bugguide who answered my question "can you tell the sex of this leafhopper" explained that the last abdominal segment is longer than the other segments and protrudes past the wing tips, and seems to have evidence of an ovipositor. So our amazing leafhopper is a girl!

There was also this little leafhopper who sat sort of frog-like. On to the treehoppers, this one being the kind on the thistle last week. They're growing. Unfortunately or fortunately for the big thistle they live on, they are also being picked off by something. This one seemed much larger than last week.

The other kind of treehopper is doing well on the redbud tree, where the thorn-like treehoppers appeared last year. They are still in nymphal form, but you can see the little wings on them ore easily now. Note: the front end is the part with the little curved tip - the red eye is down toward the bottom of that end. The eyes are much easier to spot now. This first one has wings that are longer than some of the others'. This group shot shows the color variations - and so does the next group. I'm going to try to follow this colony to see if the color differences mean anything in the later development. The last picture shows an ant tending a nymph (which is hidden behind the ant). The ant is probably enjoying the syrup from the treehopper. So far we've seen ants tending both kinds of treehoppers. Isn't it interesting that the shadow of the abdomen looks like the actual abdomen? There must be some ridges on the abdomen that cause this kind of shadow.

Here come the flies! This first one is rather large (about 2 cm) and I thought it looked like a kind of horsefly but couldn't find it in the database at bugguide.net. The second was a lousy shot but I liked the colors. Sorry! This third very tiny fly at least let me get closer to it - its body seems almost translucent like colored glass.

You know how I love these little long-legged flies. I find their quick color-changes fascinating. The last one seems to be saying "Make my day!"

This lovely tiger-colored crane fly appeared for a couple of days running in the side yard (the weed patch). I tried to ID it, but the only thing that looked like it was only to be found in Canada. Now if you look at the map, Ontario (one of the places in Canada where it exists) comes very close to Michigan - just across the Detroit river. I'll be very happy indeed if mine turns out to be one of those. Remember these sightings are only the ones that get reported - and a lot of people don't report. It's the same with the Michigan Butterflies book - the Question Mark butterfly seems not to live in my county but I've seen many of them. So whatever the data say, it's very unlikely that this fly wouldn't have ever been in Michigan. Mine may just be a look-alike, but a very pretty look-alike indeed. The next fly is also very pretty (in my humble opinion) but I worry - how does it keep its head up with the weight of those enormous eyes!

This is a robber fly, so named because it doesn't rob things - it eats them. It isn't really so top-heavy - it's just that it was perched so that the head is really out of proportion to the rest of the body. Here is a photo from 2014 showing the robber beside the pond with a great green fly that it has caught for lunch. Isn't it interesting that the shadow of the abdomen looks like the actual abdomen? There must be some ridges on the abdomen that cause this kind of shadow.

This lovely fly with blue highlights shows up best with no flash. (Under flash it looks just black.) But in the third picture (with flash) it too is holding its catch. So I tried looking it up under robber fly but haven't narrowed it down yet.

Time for a floral break. This first thing is a carboniferous holdover called a horsetail. They really are intriguing. Here is one of the "red-hot poker" plants that grow in South Africa. As you drive up to the University in Cape Town, you pass a nice big one, or used to. And closer to home, here is one of the black raspberries those bugs were pollinating a while ago, starting to ripen up. Here is a riddle: "What's black, red and green all at the same time?" Think of what the words are used for. Last, a pink water lily next to a lily pad with 3 water striders washed up by the rain (I guess).

It was a wild and wooly week in the land of the hymenoptera. Yes, we had a range of bees from small to large, but this time I was most taken by the ichneumon branch of the family tree. This female (You can tell because of the ovipositor) was running about frantically on the dark side of the shop and finally jumped onto a larval case that some insect larva was living inside. She evidently was able to tell there was fresh meat inside and began stabbing it over and over laying eggs so that her babies would have fresh food when they hatched. This went on for 10 or 15 minutes and then she just left. First up in the next row is another species of female ichneumon. But then for a couple of days running I saw this creature - a double-length ichneumon female, right? Well, it turns out to be along a totally different path on the hymenoptera tree. It's called a gasterejection. I can tell you I almost had one of those when I learned about this.

Were there any big beautiful butterflies? Well, I didn't see any except for something that flashed past me as I swept the front porch. It was some kind of underwing moth, I suspect, because its bright colors disappeared when it landed. Then it was plainish brown... Oh, anything for appearances. Sigh. But there were several small moths, these two. The third one was discovered by a friend. When I got over to his house, it was still tbere and I got a decent shot of it. It turns out to be a "plume moth". I wonder what those barbwire-like legs are used for.

Here we go with some of the odd fellows. First: this "thing" seemed to be a nymph of something in the grasshopper family. But its duck bill didn't look right. It turned out to be the nymph of the Two-spotted Tree Cricket. There weren't many pictures of the adult but here is a link to what I think is one. Next is someone's cast-off skin. You'll see when we go to the spiders that cast- off skins are everywhere. Sometimes you even see the spider right next to its skin. Here is a harvestman (Granddaddy-long-legs) - I thought those bead-like thingies on the joints betweem the body and the legs were eyes at first.

OK. Spider time. This one appeared this week on the wall but then in the evenings I find it (or a very close look-alike)close to another mystery spider. Third is the other spider.

Here is one of the promised spider with shed skin pictures. This pirate baby is getting its markings. There seem to be an awful lot of them now. On the next row, a mother common house spider with her egg case. She stays by it all day. Do you remmeber that mass of little spiders that must have just hatched? Here is one doing very well in its own very professional orb.

There are so MANY kinds of spiders, and so many of some of them. This black one I still haven't ID'ed, but I'm still thinking wolf spider. The next one may be another angle on the bowl and doily ones, which we saw several of as babies. And what in the world is this? A spider or a spider hidden behind an egg case?

Well, if I've missed any spiders or any other kind of beastie, I'll show them to you (and of course any new things that appear in the wild kingdom) next week. Have a wonderful time till then.

Back to June 14

On to June 28

Back to 2015 menu

Back to main menu

copyright Martha O'Kennon 2015