August 21, 2016

Martha O'Kennon

The heat wave is still hanging over Michigan - the other day the relative humidity was 98% but that night it rained. I had left a bucket outside and the next morning it was full up to 6 or seven inches! Still we seem to have passed the statistical point of average temperature high and must be on its statistical way down by now. My one gangly Black-eyed Susan is in full bloom - see if you can locate the little northern crab spider on it somewhere! The aster plants, especially the ones that get a bit more sun, are beginning to develop small precursors to real blooms! In fact, there were a couple of purple flowers just out of camera reach yesterday. I wish you could be here to take a deep whiff of the flower of this hosta plant. It is so fragrant when it opens up! In fact, if you click on the picture the flower seems to open up and out and your mind may even smell the perfume!

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.

Here are two ants of extremely different sizes but both called carpenter ants. The third frame was taken at my friend Kathleen's beautiful garden, and shows an incredible range of tiny bugs on her rhubarb. They contain ants, signal flies, a flesh-eating fly, and behind the scene a (relatively)large something!

Moving along to the bees, first off we have this nearly all black bee. Then one with a white nose - possibly the same as the first one. Both were caught in Kathleen's Sage.

This was the first Spotted Cucumber Beetle I've seen this season. This black crescent-shaped Tumbling Flower Beetle was in that beautiful hosta. And here is that 14-spotted Lady Beetle again in an aster plant.

This poor beetle seems to have survived an attack by something. But the goldenrod soldier beetle was back for this summer - they love the Black-eyed Susans, although this baby was startled and fled underneath the flower!

The assassin bugs are growing up all over again. In just this week I can see them stretching out in length and in girth. The candy-stripers are also all over the place, a few of the green-red combo, but mostly right now it seems the blue-red are more plentiful. Last week this one with the reddish epaulets were solid pale whitish little nymphs. They grow up so fast! It is in fact in the same genus (Graphocephala) as the candy stripers.

Besides the stink bugs (most of which don't stink) like this reddish one and this long brownish one, there weren't a lot of other bugs, but I did have a nice surprise - this pretty Long-necked Seed Bug, and then later found this empty cicada skin. The cicadas seem to be having a lovely loud summertime if the trilling from the treetops is any indication. They will soon be laying their eggs for next year's babies at the base of a tree.

And that was it for the bugs. I must not have been trying hard enough. Oh, wait. These little eggs were laid by someone in a window screen and they do look a bit like stinkbug eggs. Just grasping at straws! But sometimes when there are few bugs, there will be more flies. And sure enough, we do have a new tiny hover fly, called Toxomerus politus. According to, it ranges from Canada to Argentina, but is not common. It is common enough, however, to have been reported in Michigan a couple of times, about this time of year. This moth fly came out with a little iridescence.

This mosquito, like most of its tribe, hasn't been too bloodthirsty this year. I shuddder to remember how very hard it was to keep comfortable after being dive-bombed by the mosquitoes last year. NOTHING killed that itch. This Scorpion Fly has been quite common this year. And this little unknown fly was just sitting politely on an aster bud cluster. It looks pretty fancy for such a little thing (maybe only about 2 mm long).

Those little tree frogs just pop out of the background! They're growing slowly and soon we won't see them again - they will take to the trees until they are old enough to make a racket and come into the pond to mate. The harvestmen seem to be getting more and more lovely. The red one is just brilliant! (I did NOT do any photo-shopping of this color...)

Kathleen called this weekend to say that she had a praying mantis in her morning glories. So I went over and hoorah! There was this absolutely huge Chinese mantis (Tenodera sinensis) or maybe T. augustipennis - apparently there is a dot on the "raptorial arms" that can be used to distinguish. I will know what to look for next time. Anyway, I had just snapped a picture of it and Kathleen said "Oh look - it has just caught a grasshopper!" And it had. I watched delicately for only a few minutes and that hopper was history!

A few moths stood still long enough for me to approach this week. I believe this first one is one that we've already seen. The next one is new to me, and the third was preserved for posterity in Kathleen's window.

Here is another mystery grasshopper from Kathleen. This is also her mystery grasshopper, which I believe is now really the Red-legged Grasshopper. Back home I find this Differential Grasshopper, enjoying my dried raspberries.

Let's look at the flowers for a while before tackling the spiders. Here at long last is a little yellow flower on the goldenrod. No wasps have bitten at its new look yet - maybe it takes many more flowers to attract them. Here is one of the "designer" phloxes with stunning pink flowers. And the August Orange daylily going stronger and stronger.

Here is a short time lapse of a tall evening primrose starting to open up between about 8:30 and 9:00, when it suddenly bursts wide open. These two shots were taken at 8:21 p.m. and 8:46 p.m. The actual unfolding is so quick - I'm trying to make a .gif file with some of the intermediate studies. Here are some new raspberries ripening (only a few do this...).

Another surprise! A pair of mating bugs in the Russian Sage! Some people even seem to call them Russian Sage bugs. They seem to have small mantis-like claws (yellow in this picture). They're really Pensylvania Ambush bugs. (They should have gone back in the bug section, I know, but I had put them into the Mystery section.) Too bad both pictures are a bit fuzzy - I didn't know what I was looking at. Sometimes you miss something right in eyesight just because you didn't know it WAS something. Actually I was thrown off by this big bee right next to them. (One of the Ambushers was nibbling on the bee while in the joys of copulation.)

There WERE some handsome spiders this week. The first is a mystery spider, and the next is that spider or one like it after it jumped to the railing. It JUMPED, get it? (It does look strange, I agree, so maybe it isn't really the jumper I'm thinking of...)The one on the railing is Phidippus audax (the bold jumper). Here's that crab spider in the Black-eyed Susan again. It is amazing to see such a nice design on something barely visible.

Here is a ghost spider. Remember how to spot them with some degree of accuracy? Look at that dark mouth and eyes region. Here's a closer picture of that dark region. (Sounds like dark matter, doesn't it?) And here is a slightly different color - also a ghost spider!

The grass spiders are growing so fast. Here's one in the side yard nesting in the siding. But you can now see all sorts of sizes of grassies. Next: might be a Common House Spider - right shape.

The past few days have been fruitful for wasps. I was so excited to see this one. It seemed less skittish than the usual wasp at close quarters with an alien. After I got to cropping these pictures, I saw that this is not just a new kind of wasp, but rather a Soldier Fly. I believe it is Stratiomys norma. Compare its eyes with some of the hover flies we've seen - those are fly eyes! But I have been going to to try to identify some of the real wasp pictures. Here is a blue mud wasp, and finally a spider-catching wasp.

It sometimes seems that every week has a "new kind of wasp day". This one is a kind of potter wasp, Euodynerus foraminatus. This tiny thing was on the redbud. I searched google and bugguide for this last one, but no soap. It is the only one of its kind that I've ever seen. Good thing I got a fairly good shot of it before it was gone from sight. I don't have ID's on the other two Wasps. The last one is some kind of predator! Nasty!

Here is another Potter wasp, Eumenes fraternus, How brotherly! The little dot or comma on its abdomen is a dead giveaway. Next is a male European paper wasp. We have been seeing a lot of them and also this aerial yellowjacket, Dolichovespula arenaria.

I forgot to wear shoes when I went up to the attic to take this family portrait. The nest is only a bit larger than the last time we looked in on the family. The European Paper Wasp clan, that is. Even so, the nest is two or three times as the largest one they made last year. It does seem a bit over-used, though, doesn't it?

Flash! Today is finally cool. That means that after I finally post this blog (Really, a lot of that overtime was in trying to identify the various new things!), I can go back outside and work on the collection for next week! I can't believe how quickly the summer has gone by so far. Only a month till the other equinox comes. Take care, everyone! Let's hope you are also having some lovely days.

Love, Martha

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copyright Martha O'Kennon 2016