October 30, 2016

Martha O'Kennon

My friends the bugs are really becoming harder to find these days. But the fall colors are laying it on thickly (or bigly, as Trump would say) this year. Above you see the seed heads of the Japanese Anemones, a nice assemblage of colors from fallen leaves and the flower clusters of the Autumn Joy Sedum, and the button-style mushrooms all over Kathleen's yard. Thanks for the image, Kathleen!
We've had every kind of weather again (still excepting snow). Monday evening is Hallow'een. I hope it's as balmy for the Trick'n'Treaters as it was today. I found a cool vulture skeleton at Jo-Ann's. I've made it some glowing eyes from my old red LED collection. Really should have the braver kids run to the door and run away with whatever loot they are brave enough to grab..

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.

This week the ants were back! First a really good-sized "carpenter", actually the Eastern Black Carpenter, then one of last week's red ants retrieved from a spider's web, and finally the Eastern Black Carpenter again.


We saw several kinds of barklouse this week, all on the siding of the wood shop. Here's that really pretty one (Graphopsocus cruciatus), followed by a couple of less exotic ones.

Even the Asian ladybugs are thinning out as they move into people's rooms through cracks in the windows (I think), but here's a nice big juicy one; a reddish brown one that might be one of the turpentine beetles; and this grey weevil, which came from a spider's boneyard.

Sorry, no bees and no more beetles. Can you believe this little assassin bug nymph was still out and still in its nymphal state? The next little bug didn't have a label in its underwear so I don't know what its name was. (Actually it did, and said Drymus unus, a Dirt-colored Seed Bug). Neither did this pregnant-looking one (seen as she walked away).

Maybe the leafhoppers heard us saying how much we missed them, or maybe not, but there were quite a few spending their few more hours above ground on the blue shop siding. I think the prettiest one was this blue studded one. Look at those ratchet legs! Then there were a few of those white ones who don't show their pattern until enlarged. The candy-striped leafhopper that was so common all summer is now to be seen only in the debris field of a spider web. Its colors haven't even faded, poor dear.

This very lovely and graceful elongated orange bug is another new one. Math people, it seeems to have but one antenna. Look at the curved shadow and how straight the antenna seems to be. Where is the light coming from? And this dweller of a fiber case was one of many climbing straight up the wall. Now I think we are seeing a couple of its feet. Speaking of feet, here is an inchworm - now you can see its 3 pairs of real feet and its 2 pairs of false feet.

I hadn't seen this tiny Bibio fly (March fly) for ever so long. It looks exhausted on this soft leaf. But this mosquito is the male of a species we've seen far too much of. Pretty little guy, though. The brown female has an extravagant snorkel apparatus.

Here's that nice Aedes mosquito with her much less exaggerated stabber. The second one seems to be quite pregnant.

Here is another Smoky-winged Woodlouse Fly. The next is a mystery - Was it the rain drops on the wall that magnified these seemingly huge eyes? The tiny white creature is only about 2 mm long - it is the Whitefly.

Fortunately there are still a couple of blooming flowers that attract the last of the hover flies. This is one of only two surviving flowering goldenrod sprigs. And this is the very last saffron crocus to bloom. Try zooming into the last picture - do you see any creatures living in there? I like to take a nice rich picture like this and probe around looking for something I might have missed.

Here are a couple of harvestmen. The second one with the quite-a-lot-shorter legs is a young one.

Here are a few more of what I was labeling "mystery" as I cropped their images.

Two more mysteries: This first one must be a moth fly seen from the side, unlike all the other images I've taken of this species.

This is another exercise in spotting things in a dense picture. The first frame is a picture I took for its complexity. Next is the upper half magnified. Near the right edge is something insect-like. I think it must be a creature wrapped in silk by some spider. If you zoom in onto the upper left, inside the white goldenrod remnants on a leaf there are a couple of gold and brown spots that might be little creatures of their own. The small golden dots continue their path on a leaf heading right. Eggs? Maybe. Believe me, looking through a picture to see what MIGHT be in there is a good way to train your eyes to see unusual things while you're there!

This female black cricket kept going under the shop every time I walked by. After a few days, I was finally able to pick her up by both back legs. She didn't struggle so I'm pretty sure she was an old old cricket. Anyway, I took a couple of pictures inside and put her back. She just stayed put. Sigh. But the Common House Spider was in the mood to be photogenic.

More on the mighty common house spider. She can eat things much larger than herself. Here she has a pillbug under control. Second image: she has another large insect in the process. Another common but formidable spider is the grass spider. These days many of them are busily guarding the silken nest she has made for her babies.

My heart always goes out to the tiny crab spider. Here is a Northern Crab Spider, found outside Olin after an AALL class. They too can grab a critter many times their size. Next is a ground crab spider on a lily or grass leaf of the same color. Finally, a possible bowl and doily spider, going by the pattern on its sides and back.

Hard to believe, but after a long summer of hunting and hiding, a number of jumping spiders finally showed themselves this week. After a lot of looking at the side posture, I believe this is one of the jumpers, though the black marks near the mouth may make her a Ghost spider.. The next jumper was diagnosed again by posture -- she was a first for me - that reddish fur on her abdomen picks her out. But now we have the famous Puritan Pirate Spider, Mimetus puritanus, which I have seen very rarely this year. Last year on November 9, we had an almost identical Puritan Pirate, and it was in this very position: Hanging upside-down, its abdomen looks like a human-ish face: two big eyebrows, two white horizontal markings like white eyes, an arrowhead-shaped nose painted onto it; and one of its legs looks like an arm scratching the head! Whether or not this ability to look vaguely like a human face has or had any evolutionary advantage for this spider, it is a good game to play when time stretches out and your imagination homes in on these strange cartoons.

No big splashy wasps this week, but a number of braconid or ichneumon wasps came to visit. These two are probably from two different species. But the third is a German Yellowjacket, just about exhausted. In the past few years, this wasp has been put on the Pest List. Now where did I read that? Maybe here.

Oh! I found a few more mysterious insects - this is probably a little tiny braconid or ichneumonic wasp. Do the leaves turn all kinds of colors to make up for the dearth of fauna? This is a sugar maple leaf that couldn't decide on one color so adopted them all. Last, a hosta collects a nice assortment of other leaves.

Here are some more pretty seasonal pictures. First the purple fall color of woody nightshade leaves, and the bright red of their berries. Looking north on my street, see how the various tree leaf colors come and go. Third, a mystery house.

Let's hope there will be some more surprises for us next week or I may have to start going to every other week. But whatever the weather, we're pretty much used to the yearly changes. Let's just hope we get a handle on the global warming trend in time!

Love, Martha

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copyright Martha O'Kennon 2016