July 3, 2016
The Festival of Humidity was curtailed by popular vote a few days ago. It has actually been comfortable enough to stay out for a while longer. I think I mentioned that despite the muggy air, we have been in quite a drought. The grass is browner than it was in the winter. Still a few flowering things are blooming with giant displays. This hibiscus is tender and I take it in each fall - it has just started blooming despite the length of time it spends between my watering it. The trumpetvine will soon be humming with the more exotic wasps. The magenta water lily was gorgeous one day. They usually bloom for exactly 3 days, but at night the RACCOON(s) shredded it and left petals floating in the green water. The petals and leaf shards joined the barley straw that the marauders tore out of its flimsy plastic mesh and also left to float and sink. The pond did not need any further uglification, but it got it. I am now keeping the remaining barley bundles in an old suet feeder attached to a cord with which I can drop it into and haul it out of the pond for the night. Thinking again about getting an exterminator to help thin the coon population one of these days - before the poor toads come back.
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I made my first trek (all right, I drove over) to the Prairie Garden at the college to see what is happening there. It is hard to comprehend how different the fauna are over there, one block from my house. But then if you look to see what is happening, you start to see that the bluish cuckoo bees only seem to like the Prairie Coreopsis and the honey bees seem to cling to the Butterfly weed right next to the Coreopsis. No wonder there is this gap between gardens when it exists into one garden. This pair of leafhoppers seem to be a matched pair, but I haven't identified them yet. They're sitting on one of the Rudbeckias at the Prairie.
This pair of leafhoppers seem to be a matched pair, but I haven't identified them yet. They're sitting on one of the Rudbeckias at the Prairie. The speckled deep blue one was on a fuzzy prairie plant.
This little grasshopper nymph was sitting on an elm leaf just to the left of the Coreopsis. It's a Two-Striped grasshopper. I got a similar but full face view of one while I was visiting in the country a day or two before. It stared at me so curiously. This last picture was taken at home on the Common Evening Primrose. I suspect it is the young nymph of a Snowy Tree Cricket. For one thing, they are often seen around tomatoes and raspberries. We don't have tomatoes but we do have Purple Nightshade, and you know we have raspberry plants all over the place.
The Lead Plant sounds toxic, but it has a wonderful purple spiky flower. I didn't want to walk on the planted grass, so this picture is from several feet away. This other purple plant looks different to me but both seem to have a vetchy kind of leaves. The Queen Anne's Lace is on a sturdy plant, unlike the pitiful one at my house. I'm told that the little black stain in the center is where Anne pricked her finger with her lace-making needle. Do you believe that? If you do, I can acquire a few beautiful animals you might like as pets. They have what looks like a black mask over their eyes and have immense fun destroying flowers and toads.
I made the trip to the Prairie short but took note of the milkweed species in there. The Common Milkweed wasn't so plentiful as last year. I saw only a couple of Milkweed Beetles, and one Small Milkweed Bug. Since the camera battery (Always carry a charged one!) was dying, I wandered off to see what else was around, hoping to hoard the last drops of juice. But when I came back to this spot, the beetles and bug were not to be seen. This is the flower cluster of the Swamp Milkweed, and this is the special Swamp Milkweed beetle. It looks sort of a huge ladybird, but it isn't This last one is one of those Rudbeckias or their relatives.
This picture shows how the red aphids LOVE this plant. OMG! If you look at the picture of the red aphids, you may see a large aphid with a small one coming out her back end. I looked this up, and found that YES! Aphids can bear live young. Here is one reference. Apparently one of these tiny aphids will be able to bear her own live young in 10 days. That's why they appear in such numbers!
On the way home, I checked out my neighbors' prolific milkweed stand. I think I know how to get some milkweed into my yard. I will simply wait until their milkweed sends out roots/runners underground under the fence and into my south garden. At the rate theirs is expanding, this should take less than two years. Patience is a virtue and also a way to acquire the property of others. Anyway, on Their milkweed there were several insects that we have already seen: This flower beetle, a handsome assassin bug, and this tiny Coelidia olitaria leafhopper, the one with the turned-up tail and big eyes. There is a lot of color variation in these little leafhopper nymphs, and this black and white pattern is a new one for me.
They also had this lightning beetle hiding under a leaf. Compare with this larger relative that was on my front porch.
Back into my garden. I felt right at home with my beloved Japanese Beetle and Ladybird Beetle.
This mystery beetle (views from above and facing). The third image is of a beetle that appeared last year and took me some time to identify (with the help of Bugguide.net).
A couple of very tiny beetle/bugs showed up. I still haven't been able to identify either of them. The first looks something like a beetle, the second, the one with the striking black and white patterns, seems to have a bug-like face. This last one - I was planning to star this little blue bug nymph with the fluffy tutu later, but I just can't resist. Doesn't it seem to be high on ecstasy and doing a disco rave? Has anyone made a cartoon based on it? Disclaimer: That big blue "head" is really its abdomen and those vigorously waving arms are really its hind legs. Note: Look at the flat plates on its legs - this is one of the leaf-footed bugs. It will "grow up" to look like a pretty ordinary bug. Why can't we keep them young?
There were a number of leafhoppers. This first one was sitting on top of my car, and unfortunately there was a slight reflection from the flash. The thistles are a good place to shop for leafhoppers, it seems. The next two were on one or the other of the thistle crop.
This one was on the shop siding. It was like one that I had really admired last year as having what looks like a flower pattern. The truer colors show up on this image taken with no flash, and the second image is a result of using the built-in flash. This pointy-headed fellow showed up on July 1. I wonder if it is a member of the Aphrode genus.
Here is another probable leafhopper. And you can see that the candy-stripers are doing well. In fact, just as I was going in this evening, I spotted this tiny nymph. Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Note (March 12, 2017): If you were also thinking this was a nymph of the candy-striped leafhopper, we were both wrong. It is actually the nymph of one of the Thionia, probably T. Simplex.
Here are two shots of something I found the day after seeing those little Thionia nymphs: This is one of them too, but not sure which species. Who wants to tell me what the popsicle stick is that is protruding from its bum? It is a great camouflage from the thorn at the end of the thistle leaf. The Japanese powder-blue leafhopper appears very delicate, unlike its beetle namesake.
Speaking of the thistle, I finally found another of those little camel-shaped treehoppers - I had wondered if we had seen the last of them. NO. This spittlebug, a relative of the Alder Spittlebug, was in the Common Evening Primrose. I don't know where else to put this little unidentified barklouse, but it was on the shop siding yesterday (on the north side). They are an interesting family of bugs. Very tiny but if you can get a good shot some of them are beautiful. They are NOT lice as in head louse.
I finally was able to sneak up on this male Ebony Jewelwing, and get a nice shot of his royal iridescence. And this yellow streak that has been eluding me sat right down on this cluster of trumpets. Unfortunately, the Common Green Darner that was darting around near the pond wouldn't let me get close to him. So here is a picture of the one that was hiding under the brush last year. They are even prettier in the sun.
There were plenty of flies to go around. I'm not at all sorry not to have a nice picture of a mosquito. By the way, did I tell you earlier that those genus Aedes mosquitoes with the black and white banded legs are in the same genus with the mosquito that carries Zika. We've been really lucky so far with that. But here are some NICE flies you might not have seen before. I'm guessing that you have seen enough tiger crane flies, snipe flies, robber flies, flies, etc. But here are some newbies. (To me at least.) Here's the giant Horse/deer fly that sat on my car out in the country, just laying for me. And three little hover flies (I think.)
The last of these hoverers (aka Syrphid flies) resembles the tiny delicate fly we saw a number of earlier in the season, but since its wings are furled about its body, I can't identify it. This yellow-winged honey is a mystery too. Hmmm, what is this mystery fly with the round tummy?
I can't resist showing you a couple more of those glorious tiny jewels, the long-legged flies. And one new one with green eyes!
Another flower break? These lilies were blooming further from the edge of the pond so the raccoons didn't shred them. It used to be that I had to tear out these ladybells because they were so invasive. Now there is just one plant staving off predation. Since I started watering the front bed, this painted fern is getting hardier. By the way, it rained heavily last night but you couldn't tell from the ground.
We had a number of pretty tiny moths, some of them very pretty.
Another whitish-blue moth in the grass out in the country. Oh - I only just saw the "rabbit" in the lower-right in the leaves. The moth seems to be having a conversation with him. And one of the prettiest ones I've seen in a long time. In some views it reminds me of a Concorde.
Oh my goodness, here we are at the Spiders! This first one seems crablike to me. The next darted out of a sheet-web nest to grab this little victim. So I think it is a Grass Spider, along with the next one. Look at the long palps on the third spider!
I am now wondering if the Naphrys pulex jumping spider comes in brown AND black. Number three is an Orchard Orb Weaver with its long green legs (remember it is actually a long-jawed orb weaver, which gives it long front legs as well as jaw.) And you know number four as a six-spotted (someone can't count) orb weaver. Go figure!
We only lack now our waspies. The AC nest is now almost as large as the one left over from last year. There is some parallax here as the old nest is farther away. Here is one of the moms out on a water run, I suppose, but she has stopped for a breather. Did y ou know insects don't have lungs like ours? They breathe in through a system of little round or oval holes that run the length of the abdomen and the oxygen gets circulated to the rest of their bodies (I've now told you everything I know about insect pulmonology.) So I don't REALLY know if they ever need a breather. The last one is a so-called "square-headed" wasp, and I'd say that was appropriate, wouldn't you? (Now that the trumpetvine is really blooming and buzzing, I have finally started practising with my epi-pen trainer. For a while I was afraid that I couldn't repeatedly practise with it - but it resets just fine and now any time I go into the bathroom I jab myself with it. It tends to slip if you have clothes on - but I suppose the real one won't slip - there is a needle that comes out, and once that goes in, let's hope to heck that doesn't slip.).
I'll leave off now after just telling you that this morning I was able to see lackthrough the murk in the pond a number of tadpoles, some rather large, some rather small. Remember there were two matings, a few weeks apart. I can't count them. But at least some survived!! Can I leave off with a couple of ugly pictures? Just one? Well, what you're seeing in this picture is a good shot of the murk, with straw bits floating or bobbing, and some little black spots down at the bottom. The little white creature is a water strider. The second image is of the tadpoles in the pond before I put the pump on. There really do seem to be quite a few survivors.
I can't do it. Here is a false solomon's seal with growing berries. They will be a lovely red in the fall if they don't fall onto the ground, which is of course what they are supposed to do in order to sprout another year. Another horsetail. And finally the Common Day Lilies that grow between the raspberries on the north weed patch. In a few days they will fade and the Tiger Lilies will start to roar.
That raspberry pie is still a possibility if you hurry here. Give me a couple of hours notice - that will be great! I do hope you are all doing well and learning new things every day. (If what you are learning is gossip about you-know-who, do share!) See you soon through the ether at least. Do we still believe in the ether?
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copyright Martha O'Kennon 2016