November 15, 2015

Martha O'Kennon

This morning as I was leaving the gym after my 50-minute walk, there were tiny raindrops on the concrete. But when I opened the car door, the tiny drops on the upholstery turned out to be made of ice. So all day so far, it has been dark and full of flurries of whatever you call this precipitation. I gave a token circle around the shed where usually there would be some kind of new critter. The wall was bare. There seem to be quite a variety of small holes in the ground next to the shop, where I suppose creatures are able to dig down and under the shop, where it is a better temperature than outside. Each day of this last week has had fewer bugs brave enough to come out. I supposed they are making underground nests and laying in supplies for the winter to come. The pupae from the imperial moth mother are quite cool. Almost two months ago, I placed them and a bunch of old leaves inside my windows - outside the glass but inside the screens, so they will be safe from predators and at the same time exposed to the outdoor temperatures and humidities. Anyway, this is the pond with the leaf net spread over it. If I can keep it taut, sometimes the leaves will dry out and be blown off the net back onto the yard. And here is the latest picture of jadesy as her buds expand!

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.

There were ants of all sizes this week: medium-sized black ones and little reddish ones. I'm not sure which species were represented but here are a couple of them.

The barklice or barklouses were still plentiful, especially this one (you've seen before) with the transparent and black-patterned wings - look how the wings amplify their patterns with their shadows. There were a few kinds of ladybird beetles. One is this "asian" one preparing to make itself comfortable at the south entrance to the administration building. And here is a common ladybird trying to fold its wings back inside their elytra (the hard wing covers).

This small black mystery beetle appeared on Saturday, November 14, on the shop wall. And on Sunday, November 15 (today) this turpentine beetle came out. We haven't seen one of these for several months!

Here is my last glance of the baby assassin bug. I only saw one color this week - the greyish brown. Here are two views of this one! That mysterious all black bug was back, sitting with the old unhatched stink bug eggs.

The boxelder bugs are gathering trying to get into people's houses for the winter. I would say that now you are more likely to have asian ladybugs living with you than the boxelder bugs, who were formerly everyone's uninvited guests. It's funny that one of the first new bugs I learned about in the spring (the damsel bug)has come back this late in the fall. Maybe this is just their favorite climate. This little stinkbug is the only one I saw all week!

Oh, no, I changed my mind about that. This little schmoo-like thing is most likely a stink-bug nymph. Maybe. But I was truly surprised to see that this colorful little candy-stripe leafhopper was still around. On Sunday, November 15, this tiny bug (which might itself be a stinkbug nymph) appeared on the east wall and, right around the corner on the south wall, here was this lovely green stinkbug again!

I'm not sure whose this cocoon is, moth or other insect. But this was a tricky way to work this moth image in soon, as it is the only moth I saw this week.

Can you believe that we are at the flies already? This one was clinging to the screen on the back door. The second is a mystery to me. Then comes the long-legged March fly that was the topic a week or two back, and last is another unknown which, knowing my luck, may turn out to be another barklouse.

This brown lacewing seems to be looking back over its shoulder at us, wondering, probably, who the heck we are? Then, another of those strange insects who drag their cases around with them. And another, which appeared just as I was wrapping up this episode. I still don't know what they are!

Surprise! We have got to the spiders already! First is a baby daddy-long-legs! And here, just under the deadline, is one of the huge reddish harvestmen.

The next two tiny spiders are common house spiders.

Here is another tiny spider with a zig-zag pattern in white on black. And here is a very awful image of another mystery. It was NOT going to just stand there and let me get a picture of it.

We have had a number of ground crab spiders: Here are three of them, although looking at them, they may be the same individual (but they were taken at separate times). And, for comparison, a northern crab spider. See how much more delicate she is than all those stocky boys. It's not a gender thing, you know. The male northern crabs are also petite. All are ravenous predators, and will take on a prey many times their size.

I'm sorry to say that this may be the last episode of the year, but who knows? At any rate, we'll end with one of the most enchanting spiders ever. This is a pirate spider (genus Mimetus). For the longest time, I couldn't distinguish it from the cross orbweaver. It turns out to have the most serendipitous markings. Here it is from above, or rather from a bit behind; then from a bit farther forward; finally, a good dorsal view. That is its abdomen on top. But look at the face that comes into view in the last image. To me it seems like the face of someone who has been presented with a perplexing puzzle. It is turning its blue eyes up to one side, as I do when I'm thinking hard, its lips are pursed, and it is scratching its head in puzzlement. I've been trying to discover, not only why we humans see a face if given any chance at all, but why so many creatures have a humanoid face etched onto a whole other part of their bodies. For some amusement, go to and type "face spider" into the search box.

There may still be some warmish days here - but we had our first practice snowfall today. Nothing stuck. But nature will persist and finally get it right and then we (northern hemisphere, at least) will go into the cold winter. The bugs will not likely put on the pageant we have watched in amazement until the ice begins to melt. Note on November 15, as I wrap up this episode. It was a lovely warm day today. What can one predict? Nothing! Keep your eyes out for another episode, maybe next week or maybe in two weeks. I myself have no idea how nature may trick us from day to day!

Note to Albion readers: Pat Visser of Albion announces that she has a "mother lode" of milkweed seeds for anyone who would like to plant some. She'll have packets available in a container on her front porch for anyone who stops by (1209 Jackson St.) or they can email her and she'll deliver. I dropped by and secured my stash. Thanks Pat!

Here are the backward and forward links. I've penciled in November 22, but it will more likely be March or April of 2016 before I find enough to write about. I'd love to hear from any of you - I only send this to people I really want to keep in touch with! In the meantime, I will finally get back to my computer and Irish. Slán!

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copyright Martha O'Kennon 2015