July 9, 2017

Martha O'Kennon

Humid. Thunderstorms with hardly any rain. But the yard is abloom with flowers. Not the big wonderful splash of a garden, but turn your eyes in one direction and follow the color until you are into the picture. Last week there was almost no sign of the naturalized phlox, by which I mean it escaped from one spot to many others. This is this week. I believe that last week we had ONE magenta water lily, but look at them now. This picture was from the east side of the pond and that pretty green striped background is part of the reflection of my house. Last time I went visiting, Kathleen gave me a handful of purple oxalis, which people like to call "shamrocks". I suppose it would be more appropriate to say "sham shamrocks". I put it into a window box for safe keeping till I find a nice place for it in (hmm, I like the front yard for low things of color) a place where it can overwinter. Really? Kathleen's is a huge healthy patch of what I always thought was a parlor plant -- happy as can be in the ground for several years! We'll see.

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.

The ants are everywhere! People are finding big black ones in their kitchens and even some lucky ones are suddenly aware that they aren't alone in their bed! These latter cheeky ones I reward with a nice thumb rub, but if you are too kind (or scared) to do that you can always grab with a hunk of tissues and escort to the nearest window, then a quick gust of air will take it back downstairs and outdoors where it will land gently. Here are three ants in safe places: a huge one on the deck railing, one showing inordinate interest in any contents there may be in a stick casing, and one running around the top of a large jar. I see I called the last one "ant on pot" and hope you don't think it was puffing on a reefer.

Last year the goldenrod on the path past the pond was playing host to a good-sized colony of various kinds of aphids. But not this year! On July 6, the first one arrived on that plant (or was it an aster right next to it?) and may in fact have just given birth to a tiny one (to her left in this picture) but wait - is that an even smaller one coming out of her abdomen (top - she is head down in this image). Funny how you never see these details until you get to a picture-enlarger! I'm just going by pictures from last year. The next picture is a red aphid giving birth on July 2, 2016 (last year a month before this!, and the colony well along!) Next are two barklice - they were actually big enough this week for me to recognize them.

Here is an Echinacea cone with a tiny bee, its legs covered with pollen Picture #3 is of a cone with a tiny tiny crab spider in its cone.

A few shiny beetles: One in which you might see a reflection of yourself, or not; a gorgeous blue metallic Flea Beetle of genus Altica; and a copper metallic one.

Here is a beetle that almost looks metallic, then two called "flower beetles". The second is a Tumbling Flower Beetle,and it is arched the length of its abdomen. Maybe it reminded the namer of an acrobat. Third is another kind of flower beetle, Strangalia luteicornis.

Weevils are one of my favorite beetles. A black one, one the color of an eggplant (at least in this lighting), and the Rhubarb Weevil, whose name I wish would be changed to "banana weevil".

Onward to the bugs. Let's start with the leafhoppers. I believe these first two are different angle shots. The third is a beautiful blue, and the fourth

I don't know this first one, but numbers 2 and 3 are Scaphoideus genus, one brown and one blue. This is the leafhopper that always makes me think it is a fabric design that comes in two dye lots.

Oh dear. Here are two bugs that we might confuse. The first is the Small Milkweed Bug. The Large Milkweed Bug (image 2) I haven't seen yet this summer, but you might easily mistake either for the boxelder bug, the subject of Image 3. By the way, lest you think the L.M.B. might be a palindrome, I picked the picture from 2015 of two mating! Puzzle on image 2: click on that image to enlarge and double-enlarge it. At the head of the lower or right-most member of the pair, is that another insect (marked with a red squiggly perimeter with its eye marked with a green circle)???

When I first saw this "leafhopper", I was sure it was the nymphal form of the candy-striped leafhopper. But a year later I found its mug shot and fount it was a planthopper and not a relative of the candy-striper. It is in fact Thionia simplex and a nymph. (Got that right..) Here is a better picture from last year. For a set of pictures showing T. simplex in various life-stages, go Here.
Here is a quick photo of our two-marked treehopper, still on the redbud tree.

A mysterious bug showed up on the shop siding. I like the detail in its markings. My eyes are still rolling around in my head about this one, which I keep calling the nymphal form of the Green Stink Bug. I'm not calling it that any more. It looks a lot like a predatory stink bug that lives in Florida, not the frozen north. Third is a centipede or millipede. So I'm putting it here with the last of the bugs because we needed to fill this cell. :-)

We're now seeing a few more dragonflies. Here is my favorite blue-eyed damselfly. It is a male slender spreadwing and the next picture (from last week) is most likely the female. I learned something from Bugguide today: The white on the wing tips is definitive for this species. These were the only damselflies I photographed this week. The ebony jewelwings were just too tempting, lighting very near me while I was fixed on something else!

We also had only a few dragonflies. The Autumn Meadowhawk seems to have confused his seasons. This is a male since it does not bulge out just before the tail starts, and it doesn't have the little triangular "tailstool" affixed just under the end of the tail. Now I would have said this next one was a female Common Whitetail, but "she" also lacks those traits. I will have to go back to the drawing board on this one. Oh! Here it is! Explains that it could be a juvenile male.

Here is a family portrait of many of the fishes living in the pond. You can see how much they are growing. Do a couple of extra clicks to zoom in on some of them... Oh, that white stuff floating on the surface is supper, that's why they are all gathered conveniently The other afternoon, maybe to get away from the heat, an American toad showed up for a swim. The next day I almost stepped on another smaller adult toad.

But get a look at the tadpoles. Now I believe these are the ones from the first mating a while back (at the end of April). The dates of mating were April 20, May 16, and then another more recent time, which I didn't make much of until seeing a mass of eggs. I think the little toads I've been walking on ice not to step on are from the first mating, these tadpoles were from the second, and some smaller ones that I've seen lately from the last mating. Last in this row: a baby toadlet trying to climb onto the shop siding so I won't step on him.

We had so many different kinds of flies, I will spare you from the ordinary ones like blowflies, etc. But you need to see these tigery crane flies, a beautiful little fruit fly, and a picture-winged fly seen here under a redbud leaf.

Here's a robber fly clinging to a tiger lily stalk. Those huge black balls are the seeds (or bulbils) of the lily. Then comes a skinny scavenger fly, and one of the uglier flies in the family.

This copper-clad fly is the first one I've seen. Same for the tiny tiny yellow fly, and this really tiny red-eyed one.

Doesn't this harvestman look as if it is lying back in a comfy hammock? The pinkish one seemed to be trying to be invisible. Of all the kinds, this black and white is one of the most visible, and pretty sharp too, huh?

This green lacewing looks like a princess just waiting for Prince Charming to arrive. Meanwhile, this little mayfly seems to be extricating herself from a stiff nymphal shell. I do apologize for the fuzziness of this beautiful moth.

I haven't seen any Katydid nymphs this week, but did manage to find this little one that looks like a baby grasshopper with that long longitudinal stripe of purple. Everyone knows a pillbug when he/she sees one. Here's a pupa which may have just begun to hatch from this little case.

I want some flowers! This is the little row of window boxes filled with zinnias, marigolds, Echinaceas, petunias, things that might interest the butterflies, because my poor yard doesn't have much space, and I have a secret confession: some European escargots must have come here via some potted plants many years ago, and they devour Echinacea and Rudbeckia like liquor, from top to root or vice versa. So I can't plant either in the ground.

Raspberries, anyone? My poor arms are so scratched up, but the berries are so good! And so (slightly) is honeysuckle, but does it ever take a yard, and especially a wall or a vine! Speaking of a vine, here is the trumpetvine in full bloom. Just a few weeks ago it seemed I was showing you a picture of the first bud!

Here are a few ichneumon wasps. They are stunningly beautiful, aren't they?

Now for your amusement, here is a European paper wasp, a female as you can see from the circle on her face. Now what is she doing? She needs fibers, which she would ordinarily get from dried stalks, but my deck rail is so much more convenient. Anything for the paper industry! Here is a mud dauber, who never seems to want to daub the mud near the camera. And finally a lovely wasp or sawfly.

My goodness, I went straight to the wasps and skipped over the cute spiders. This pirate spider is the cutest of the week. Remember that big round face is actually its abdomen... Still it does make a mooney kind of face. The orchard orbweavers are still tiny babies but now they look quite adult through the lens. Yesterday morning I must have said something wrong because immediately it turned upside down and pooped a sphere of the good stuff.

Finally I saw my first 6-spotted orbweaver. Too bad the spots are on the other side of the abdomen. This normal-looking spider is a mystery to me. But here is our Naphrys pulex, back to her pre-pregnancy figure!

Oh, it's been a long day slaving over a hot computer. I still have to get out there and bring in the day's raspberries. Take care, all of you and see you next week!

Love, Martha

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copyright Martha O'Kennon 2017