December 24, 2017


Martha O'Kennon


It's still early Winter: The days are lengthening out at the dusk end, though I haven't watched to make sure. It goes from hoodies to winter coat weather. I'd sort of thought I wouldn't do this blog, but then suddenly we had a rash of tiny mostly un-make-out-able critters. But the big news you will get later, and this is what caused me to reconsider skipping another week.

The floating heater got a good workout this week. One day it was just barely able to warm a very small circle of ice, and another day it had its usual larger circle clear. Here is a portrait of Pinky, so named because he is more or less red and white marbled, in solitary down under the ice. And here is the heater doing its thing. I feel sorry not to call the guys up to the surface for a few fish flakes, but they just HAVE to undergo this change of metabolism. They can actually live without a lot of food, and the bottom of the pond is full of dying aquatic plants. I remember a few winters when the aquatic plants lived through the chill. But now we're back in Siberia - only the water lilies are hardy enough for most winters.



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. Or you can click on the image to get to the (usually) larger image. Then the info is displayed in the address line above. Sometimes the second click will actually display a different view of the original image.

No ants this week. They must not enjoy snow and frozen ground. The thing that is most antlike now are the gall wasps, which resemble very fat ants. I'm not sure which of the kinds of galls we get around here are due to an egg laid into the mutable tissue by the which wasps. Our old faithful tiger-colored barklouse is doing well, but we also have some new things that I believe are other barklice. Actually, the prettiest of these turns out to be, not a Barklouse, but a Psyllid, specifically, the Blackberry Psyllid, or Phylloplecta tripunctata. Bugguide.net doesn't have a sighting of this tiny psyllid in Michigan and only in Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Quebec does it occur in November. So Michigan in December? I'll have to send it in. By the way, as you look at the photos this time, are you noticing the many many tiny creatures that look like eggs or young "bugs" and form the background to many pictures?


I'm not sure what this creature is that seems to be emerging from a pupal case. But don't worry, since there were no bees to buzz about this month, we can skip to the only beetle we seem to have nowadays. It's tiny but pretty in its purplish-black covering with pinkish-red markings. What could it be? And what are the two littler critters in the background? In picture #3, we see what looks like a very young Acanthocephala terminalis bug touching very tiny creatures with their very long arms. It isn't a foodfest, though, since all the bugs in the genus with A. terminalis live on plant species! So what are those little guys?



What about my favorite bug, the leafhopper? Well, on December 18, we had a sighting of one of our old friends, the Eratoneura, in its spotty form. And on December 11, we saw yet another of the Erythroneura genus, but this one in a completely different coloring pattern! This last "mystery" picture is a true mystery - here we're looking at the larger animal in the lower half of the image.



Here is a pile of eggs of some sort. Second looks like a shrimp with offspring bursting forth at the upper right. I wonder if the tiny tiny black dots are eggs of some kind or maybe prey for the new-born critters. In picture 3, we seem to have the corpse of a barklouse, but what are the little multi-segmented creatures spilling from the top of the picture? To me they seem like very young sizes of nymphs or larvae.



Could this first image be a kind of moth? What kind of fly or wasp was this cadaver? And no, this is not a seahorse, but what is it?



This thing resembles a sea anenome. But didn't I see it in two parts before? The feathery part and the crooked stem... Wait. Look at this thing I labeled "looper" when I first saw it.



Actually we did see two pretty real loopers. So not everything this week was a "mystery" creature. This third picture looks to me like some kind of leafhopper, but with its wings blown by the wind.



Here is a crane fly with really long legs, or a fungus gnat. The next one is a real crane fly. But look at all the fantasy little things at the upper right. And at center top too. Third is a more familiar fly. This fourth dead fly was lying upside down on the window ledge.



This looks somewhat like a pillbug, but maybe not. The golden thing at the bottom may be its head or some offspring emerging. The next thingy looks like a scrub pad, but the next image is the same creature four days later.



I promised you something surprising earlier. Now that we are into the spider range of pictures, here is the Humpbacked Orbweaver, which is one of the spiders I've seen each winter, but never in the other seasons. Can you believe it? I shot the first two images with flash but the third was without so you can see the rather greenish color it really has. The middle image shows the spider sideways.



The first image may be of a very young Common House Spider, it is so tiny. The next image is of a very tiny spider with a humanoid face. So it may also be a Common House Spider with a Trump face. The third one may be what I called it when I first saw it - Spiderlings Hatching. I think it would make a great abstract jigsaw puzzle.



A springtail already! This spring was the first time I saw one before!



Well, we've now seen the real and imagined bugs of the first week of Official Winter. Here are a couple of colorful and stark things I wanted to show you. The first is a "collage" of various kinds of cardstock but with some water lilies and a frog cut out from bigger pictures and arranged whimsically into the picture. The last is a scene that I just happened to finally notice the other day. It looked to me as if a couple must have enjoyed swinging on this glider but when they went in after the summer, the snow remembered them as they were and probably is looking forward to their visit this next summer.



I'm more or less back to my old self - thanks to everyone who shared good wishes. I hope we will meet in person many times still. :-)

Love,
Martha

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copyright Martha O'Kennon 2017