October 23, 2016

Martha O'Kennon

You can have it all. Move to Michigan and experience all summer, spring, autumn, and winter in a few days! I still remember one spring day - it was lovely and sunny and I walked out to the back back yard to see the trilliums. Suddenly the thunder started and so I hurried back to the house. But by the time I reached the back door, it was snowing! That's sort of how this past week was. We had frost, rain, sun, mosquitoes, the works! Yesterday I put out the pond cover - the redbud leaves were golden and starting to come down. Nothing worse than a pond with all those leaves on the bottom. Except of course, for a pond full of dead and dying plant life. I don't usually do anything special about the lilies and there were years when the winter didn't kill the submerged plants. But the last two years have been quite hard on those plants. I've already started netting them out. Let's see if I keep up the enthusiasm for that! Above, a "flower" of purplish-blue aster leaves seen from the top, rhododendron buds for spring, and the mushrooms that were big round buttons last week have become this mass of blown shrooms all over the south yard.

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.

Last week we got our first barklouse, but this week we had that one (Graphopsocus cruciatus) plus another, a possible Ectopsocopsis cryptomeriae. They are only a couple of mm long - you can barely make them out without the camera lens.


There were a few new beetles this week. This first one is a bean leaf beetle, but the second and the third I haven't been able to diagnose yet.

The olive green "lady-looking" beetle decided to disguise itself as a frog for Halloween. That orange one with the black head was back, and just as anonymous as ever. There surely do seem to be a lot of metallic beetles, like this shiny one.

The asian lady beetles are more and more visible. I liked the fluffy tail ornament on this one. The next one was on its way out of here, showing its filmy flying wings untucked from the hard shell wings. But my favorite of the week was this weevil, the Cambium Curculio, Conotrachelus anaglypticus.

This big rough stink bug was trying its best to come indoors. I was happy to see something new but dismayed to read that it is becoming a pest in many places. I think the second one is harmless. This Lygus plant bug was as usual hiding in the goldenrod with only its pretty abdomen showing. And yes, there are still Assassin Bug nymphs around.

Here's one of the white leafhoppers that only betrays its colors when you zoom in on it. This one just showed up yesterday, October 21. This last one reminds me of something similar we were seeing earlier.

Remember all those tiny twig-or-pebble cases? They're on the move again. Here's one being dragged by its contents around a big bolt. I can't tell if the "interesting" bits are part of the case or parts of the critter. It could have been in the act of escaping. The second case seems to be made of different stuff -- like fibers... That inchworm is still here - The six feet at the top of its body are its "real" legs. The two at the rear end are called "pseudopods", Greek for "fake legs".

The fishies are still doing fine - even the tiny ones are getting bigger. The one at the right is a nice tortoiseshell fish.

A crane fly. Again - look at that little tiny head. This next fly doesn't sit still for a moment. She hops from place to place. I was lucky to get any picture at all of her. This little hover fly found a small patch of goldenrod and spent some time there.

Can you believe these mosquitoes are still out there and doing a bit of biting? Here are a female (biter) and a male, probably of different species, though they both resemble Aedes to me. The third image is of either a large gnat or a very small crane fly.

This yellow-winged fly's hirsutitude is in evidence all over its body. I don't know what good the spiky legs contribute to this evolutionary winner. And just to say, yes, the moth flies are still around. Their wings remind me of Henry the 8th's ermine. I wish I could have gotten a side view of the last of these images.

At about the same time that the first mushroom find exploded into a patch of destruction, these big bracket fungi suddenly bloomed on that old blue spruce stump. Brown lacewings are in season still. And here is a wonderful present I got from Kathleen - a praying mantis egg case (oötheca). I plan to keep it in the little front porch in a window outside the glass and inside the screen. That way it should be safe from birds and also receive the wintry weather it needs in order not to dehydrate.

Here are some more mystery objects. Are they more cases for exotic insects? Strange talismans from a parallel universe? Slippers for a furry princess?

This image contains two mysterious parts of a couple of kinds of insect. The curious little head is probably some kind of wasp, but the other one may be an aphid (They have been very scarce since the lady beetles showed up this summer). Second is a jumping bush cricket, cooling its heels on the deck. These tiny snails are so lovely with their glowing nacre.

I believe that this spider is an old friend, the bowl and doily spider. The next is certainly our common house spider, finishing off another of our favorites, the Coelidia olitoria leafhopper. And here is a huge grass spider.

Here in that little patch of yellow goldenrod is my favorite, a little grey crab spider. Then we have a lovely little jumping spider (showing its headlight eyes in the next two images.)

What's this? What good luck! Two other jumping spiders were visiting too! One, Naphrys pulex in a pile of remains from some insect or other; the other, the Bold Jumper, Phidippus audax. If I recall rightly from my old math days, that's three jumping spiders in one little week (counting the one on the row above)! All that, and a red male common house spider!

One pretty new spider. Look at the delicate mottling of the abdomen of this one. I think these are both Cellar Spiders.

In the few bright hours lately, a small number of faithful wasps come to visit one or the other of a half-dozen tiny yellow patches. You can spot Ancistrocerus adiabatus by its brightly banded abdomen and the little happy-face on its back. Right after A. a. lunched on the gold patch, this even tinier wasp arrived and raced all around the patch so fast that most of my pictures of it were a bit blurry. This last one seems to be a female Symmorphus canadensis.

You may recall that back in July the male Symmorphus canadensis was here. This one is different in a few ways. That somewhat simpler female face on this first image (Please note the shape of her eye) gives her away, just as the fuller male face of the former visitor gave him away. (Second picture) Note that the happy face is just the eyes on this species, no smile.

Besides these potter wasps, there were also a number of braconid or ichneumon wasps, mostly very tiny ones.

The little tom cat who went to see the doctor is back to his old self. He isn't so glad to see me anymore, although he enjoys slinking through the yard. I see him often coming back to the yard after chowing down at the home of a neighbor who puts out voluminous quantities of food for the various back-street characters. So no picture, just the update for now. Tripper now spends more and more time with Big Bunny. The paper wasps are still working in their nests. They must still have a few larvae to care for. It looks as if they are uncapping remaining cells.

I can't believe that we still had so many critters to watch this past week. Hopefully, there will still be a few in the next couple or few weeks. I'll send you whatever I see!

Love, Martha

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copyright Martha O'Kennon 2016