May 10, 2015

Martha O'Kennon

Weeds on the wall. Nuff said.

Some native wildflower portraits: A yellow trillium - a so-called sessile trillium because the flower sits right in the middle of the leaves. The solomon's seal is lovely when it unpacks - its leaves are folded to fill the least possible space - and just as lovely as it is one of the first flowers our hummingbirds like to frequent. (The columbines are beginning to bud out - they will be next in the progressive party.) These golden wood poppies bloom along with the virginia bluebells and the forget-me-nots to make a nice constrast of two beautiful shades of yellow and blue.

Finally! After seeing both the brown and the orange assassin bug nymphs, the green with the red eyes appeared this week. And if you were missing all the stinkbugs from last week, here is a sad obituary. This tiny common house spider is preparing the huge stinkbug for a feast.

Among the beetles, we saw several of those northern pine weevils, but for the first time a ladybird beetle or just "ladybug". We prize them for their ability to keep the aphids in check as well as the nursery rhyme. This one was emerging from the dirt next to the shop. And for you who harbor ill-well towards the asian ladybugs, here is one being made into sushi by a common house spider. I don't know how they are felt about in Africa, but here they are known for their sharp bite, their stinky aroma, and their sheer numbers - some years they go into your house for survival I guess, but invite all their kith and kin in too.

Amongst the lepidoptera, the red admiral butterfly showed an interest in a rain-formed puddle next to the pond. It is one of the LEAST human-averse butterflies - sometimes when I wear a turquoise shirt outside, one will come and sit on my shoulder. And here's another of those strange moths - another Leaf Blotch Miner Moth! Different from last weeks's surprising one. This time I just searched for leaf miner and found this very variety immediately!

This was the week of the fly! Here is a march fly I fished out of the pond. Silly thing must have got swept up while laying eggs, or maybe not. Then the craneflies showed up. This one seemed to be smaller than the next. It could be that it is different from the others - or it could be a female, which in the bug kingdom is normally larger than the male. Then here (picture 3)is the really big one - the giant (Tipula) of the crane flies. It is nearly 4 inches from tip of front legs to tip of back legs. And finally here is the truth. The larger crane fly on top of the last picture is indubitably the female. I saw one crane fly flying this morning and while chasing it slowly discovered two pairs mating. Here is the r-rated picture of the pair of giants.


This was also the week of the really BIG wasp. I was standing out in my side yard listening to a small scritching sound. Finally I spied on a long dried stem from something that bloomed last summer a large paper wasp. This answers a question from last year as to why some wasps are called paper wasps. This one was manufacturing pulp to be made for her nest. The next one appears in the porch where some of us were meeting on pressing local matters. It is the yellow jacket Vespula vidua queen. Fortunately it was not the kind that attack people. I ran over to try to get a good shot of it and it still didn't attack. Good wasp, nice wasp.

We had a large amount of rain in the past 3 or 4 days. This means lots of slugs and snails. Here is one of each.

And what you've all been waiting for - the spiders. I think I am beginning to be able to spot a jumping spider. Guess what one way is. They seem to suddenly disappear and then reappear a ways away - over and over. The other way is that they tend to have eyes like headlights. This one is Naphrys pulex. Look at its head - doesn't it resemble a circus mask? Then here is another pose upside down showing what seem to be enormous green eyes, and ANOTHER view of the mask.

Here is a tiny 2 mm long spider with enormous legs for its globe-like bod. And another closely related (in the same genus) jumper as the ones above.

On the pond front, this morning I woke to see the fish orgy. Usually all the boys line up and chase the ONE female, Fanny. Sorry - she's named because her tail is fanlike. And so they were. But suddenly I noticed that another lot were lining up behind "Cheeky", named that because his cheeks were red when he was just a tiny fishlet. Oh my. After all these years, there may actually be TWO females in the family. Cheeky is only two years old, but I guess you could read the instructions to say "fish mate in their third year". This may blow over and I'll tell you if it does. Or if it doesn't. Today and also a few days ago there was a dead toad in the bottom of the pond. They seemed to have been pierced by claws or sharp teeth and left to decompose in the pond. But another peek at the shallow end shows a thousand or so tiny little objects beginning to wriggle and some actually swim. These are the tadpoles who were laid as eggs 6 days ago! So Nature will out. Watch out, raccoons!

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copyright Martha O'Kennon 2015