July 2, 2017

Martha O'Kennon

Same as last week. Some humid hellishness and some cool relief. I wandered in the neighborhood to see what THEIR flowers were doing. The purplish Monarda (Bee Balm) was out at my friend Kathleen's wonderful garden, where I'd gone to check out her baby mantids, since my ootheca didn't hatch this year. Her pink yarrow has made lovely mounds. You may have heard that baby mantids go through a number of moults and each one results in a bigger mantid still with the saw form and almost the same colors as it approaches adulthood. In a bit I'll be showing you the growth of a particular bug, which also has nymphs, but each instar (stage between moults) is hardly recognizable.

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.

Forget the ants for a while! We have such strange animals to enjoy, like this white wooly aphid. You can see faintly its clear aphid wings but it's encased in fluff. Next was a very colorful barklouse, and another of a different kind.

This little honey bee was acting very tired. Here she lay down to catch her breath in some low weeds. The next little bee is happy to visit each golden cell of this purple coneflower. I managed to get several sequential shots of this bumblebee before it became jaded with ITS coneflower.

More of that bumblebee! The last image is of a small bug or beetle, I wasn't sure!

The beetles were so diverse this week! This tiny red and black one was only about 1 mm long. Here's a brown and black one. And finally, a "flower beetle", Strangalia luteicornis, who is actually on a redbud leaf.

Did I hear you say that you hate Japanese beetles? How about this one in pink and purple? The next two are (of course) Asian lady beetles. The colors are different, but they both have the "W" or "M" on their collars. Here's a lightning beetle too.

Here is a milkweed beetle from Christi's place. (You saw the picture last week of my minuscule milkweed plant - it could be years before I have any beetles on mine.) Here also is a pinkish brown beetle catching the Alpenglow off the shop siding. Here again is a green weevil - maybe the same as the Green Immigrant Weevil from the last post. How many green weevils are there anyway? How many weevils are there? I like this brown one with the yellow spot in the center of the top of its abdomen.

Now we get to our beloved bugs! This one is just "black beetle bug", so named because of its generic similarity to lots of other bugs and my shaky trigger finger. Don't worry, they get better. The next image is of a chubby assassin bug nymph - or is it a gravid adult? It has the red eyes of Zelus luridus. Here is a photo from a parking lot in Chelsea. You know you've seen these little red and black bugs before, but where? I'll give you a hint: they like to come visiting your house in the fall and bring all their cousins too.

Suddenly we are seeing a lot of leafhoppers, a kind of bug that ought to have its own space at the museum. This first one seems to be unzipping its black skin to let its green self out. The second is a Leafhopper called a Sharpshooter, this one being the Speckled Sharpshooter. The third is one that I remember from last year with trendy white spots on brown.

Am I the only person who sees an owl's face on top of this leafhopper? Do you recognize this Aphrodes leafhopper from last year? This green one from last week is most likely the Aphrodes nymph.

This little fellow seems to have big eyes compared to its small size. The second one is easy to spot because its head seems to be melting down over its feet. This pink one seems to me to be one that was around last year and just as un-identified as then too. Anyway, it's a lovely antique pink.

Not to be confused with the pink leafhopper in the last paragraph, this one seems more nearly orange. The head end is down in both these photos. Here in image 3 is the little Oliver - you can see that it is curled up at bother head and tail...

The first image in this row is of a kind of hopper that is getting to be more and more common. I call them the "kite-shaped leafhopper". The second image is borrowed from last week's collection, as it's the best shot I have from any of the relatives. The third is some kind of plant bug.

This yellow bug is most likely also a plant bug. The four-lined plant bug got its upcoming from a spider. And I am wondering if this little red and black bug isn't an early instar of the green stink bug.

The only treehopper I saw this week was this two-marked treehopper, which we decided last week had indeed just begun its annual awakening as an adult. Here it had already jumped ship from the redbud tree onto one of the aster plants just below. But the Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies) were less shy than usual. Here is a male Fragile Forktail damselfly and a very long-tailed damselfly with narrow narrow wings, one of the Slender Spreadwing Damselflies.

This week the male ebony jewelwing became the flashy and non-shy member of the family. He displayed himself in some vines about a step from the deck stairs. I thought, I could let him be a house protector. Then near the gate between the back yard and the yard just south of the house, the blue dasher dragonfly came and sat on a thick twig, which is becoming a landing station for dragonflies.

Now you've seen the blue dasher in several related poses. I believe this one has been the male. Take a quick look at the fishes and breathe!

Here is a tricky fly. For at least a month I've been seeing what looked like a common gall midge (male) except for its brilliant green eyes. It doesn't show up in Bugguide's search for a robber fly, but it must be something like that!

Here is a medley of pretty flies. First off, the picture-wing fly. Then a couple of kinds of midges.

A rhinocerus horn? No, it's an antenna. No idea what kind of fly it is though. A hover fly looking like a bee on this flower.

More fly medley! A little black one, a moth fly, and a mysterious fly with the darkest blue abdomen ever.

More medley?

Here is a quick row of harvestmen. Nuff said for now.

The baby katydids have been growing slowly but their coats are beginning to shine with new orange patches on their cheeks.

Now I promised to say something pedantic about the bugs of the Acanthocephala terminalis species. I'm preparing a little write-up showing the various instars. In this species, and maybe they're not alone, but it knocked me out when I saw it, the several instars all are different colors and to some extent other differences exist. In the past couple of weeks, I've seen these little creatures on the shop siding (east side). I now think that these are the earliest instars I've ever seen.

This one is a long shot, but I'd been reading up on mimicry, and felt that there was something weird about these ants. This is a spider mimicking an ant. Doesn't that seem like a juicy clue? Mimicry isn't just for spiders and flies.
Read this! Anyway, this spider in genus Peckhamia mimics an Ant, a strangely long-legged ant, but still...

A few days ago, the 26th of June to be exact, I started seeing this very large "upholstered" spider. It acted like a jumping spider, but I'd never seen such a large jumping spider. One person on Bugguide.net said it looked like a female Naphrys pulex. Now I've frequently seen N. pulex around here. It is covered in lovely patterns but not these. Then someone on iNaturalist.org suggested it looked gravid. Well, on the 29th, that big spider was gone and one somewhere between the size of the first spider and N. pulex, and to my surprise the smaller spider's upholstery was also somewhere between the non-pregnant N. pulex and itself. And to cap my surprise, the next day, 4 days from the first observation of that very large spider, an even smaller spider with a design so much more like N. pulex that I believe this case is pretty well closed.

Some of my spider collection from last week: first a charming example of a ground crab spider. The next is a very large spider found by my friend Christi. Don't worry Christi, no red hourglass underneath! Your second much smaller spider, is everyone's favorite jumping spider, Phidippus audax...Look for its greenish "teeth". Has anyone seen one like this much smaller spider?

A few more spiders to put you to bed with. My favorite spider, the pirate spider Mimetus puritanus. If the second one is a sac spider, which it resembles, keep your hands off him as he makes a nasty venom. To scare those of you who distrust spiders AND earwigs, here's a spider who has invited an earwig to supper.

We had a few wasps and ichneumon wasps, but the most colorful was this ichneumon. She seems to be laying her eggs inside what looked like a dead leaf. I suspect there is something else in there that her babies will enjoy.

I now must say good night and goodbye for another week. I hope everyone is doing well, and able to think about some things other than our respective political systems. In our good times we must think of how to make the world work better. Does this sound familiar? (It's the same valediction as last week's. )

Love, Martha

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copyright Martha O'Kennon 2017