March 6, 2017

Martha O'Kennon

After several warm days, we have slid partway back into winter. So our list isn't long this week. I've decided to go ahead and show you what we got on a kind of off-week. Of course the winter aconites are still doing their spring thing, but there were some early croci from last week and I plan to exploit them shamelessly!

I believe that most of our ants have been the same species, this brownish-red one. Beetles? Of course we had this drunken-looking Asian lady beetle. And in the dusty shade near the clothes-dryer vent another black and white lady beetle.

Believe it or not -- our first assassin bug nymph, gorgeous in green and orange. And yet another leafhopper of the genus Arboridia. This one has a nice diamond on its back. Yet another leafhopper of the genus Arboridia. This one has a nice diamond on its back. This caterpillar (about an inch long) is a new one on me. Maybe we can watch it pupate and see who it is. This strange mass just may be a clutch of spider eggs.

Now we have a goodly number of kinds of flies. This one looks like a crane fly but its nice long rostrum (snout) just screams "female mosquito" at us. The second one here is a kind of gnat - its wings aren't thin like those of a midge. Was it an accident or did it just happen to pose with the lambent rays of the sun glancing off its wings? Clicking to get the larger image reveals another gnat but this one has a red parasitic mite on its "neck".Here's another gnat and some kind of prey, I presume.

This golden fly seems to be a fungus gnat. I never thought I'd call a gnat or fungus gnat beautiful, but they really are, aren't they? This second one is a gall midge. Last is our old friend the midge, a male we know from its fuzzy antennae.

One more mystery fly - a nice big ugly one. It may have had a checkery bum like the flesh flies, but I couldn't see it well enough.. Here's a mystery - looks organic but what? Another one - a wrinkled leaf? Another - a bluish-green bead? seed?

What a week for tiny little spiders. The baby common house spiders are getting bigger. This one has a left-facing face - oh you think it should be right-facing from the spider's perspective, don't you? Remember this face is actually on the abdomen! Did I tell you that the common house spiders are a kind of cobweb spiders? They are. The cobweb spiders are often brown - some of their abdomens look like translucent candy. OK, starting with #2, these are all probably cobweb weavers, but lovely in their simplicity... (Oh, about that simplicity. I couldn't build one. That tiny spider has all the parts and speed of a much larger one.) The third one -- is it a CHS or another cobwebster?

This one was a bit larger and seems to be a twisty toy of wire legs and a lovely bead for a body. In most of these I can hardly see a head. These images are all of the same spider.

This little fellow is probably a Dwarf Spider of genus Grammonota. The mark I'm going by is the split sphere inside the translucent light brown abdomen. The next one is quite large, maybe 6 mm (counting the legs). From the long back legs and the typical texture of the abdomen, I'd say it is a nursery web spider. Last: I went up to the attic to see what could be found. On the stairs, I found a number of small dead things, including this wasp, which I believe is the queen of one of the genus Vespula.

Surprise! A new tack! Suddenly about March 1, I found a new kind of beetle! The only trouble was that I couldn't find it in a fairly big book of beetles. So I posted a question about it on Researchgate and got the answer from a couple of entomologists, Vincent Lefebvre and Luis Miguel Constantino, that it is no beetle at all, but rather a minute creature called a springtail, probably named Tomocerus minor, which really has a tail tucked under it, which lets it leap when the tail flexes. I did not get any pictures of the tail in any of the images I got. Well, I had a few other photos in my "frassture", my newly coined word for an array of images that amount to a pile of frass. The second picture here apparently is also a springtail, but I can't tell if it is the same or different. Oh looky! Here is a very similar one from January 30, 2016. The fourth one got me all excited because it resembles a springtail of the "globular" denominaton, but many lovely people have assured it is but one of the others standing in such perspective that it only seems to have the one round abdomen. We are in Cloud Cuckooland now, folks.

I spent some time today looking at the aforementioned area near the dryer vent. Is this the image of yet another kind of springtail? The next fellow seems to be some creature extricating himself from a case made of tiny twigs. I took a series of shots of it, but it doesn't seem to be making progress right now. Pretty thing if it makes it! It is of course about the time when the stoneflies began showing up on the shop wall. In case you don't recognize a stonefly, here is a picture of one from February 20th, 2016. And finally, a mystery not far from the potential stonefly! It COULD be an amalgam of used bits of several meals of a spider.

Friends, I believe we have had some success at pasting the various time-lines together. I'm sorry to say that this year I haven't yet seen a stonefly (unless that mystery creature coming out of its case is one). In fact, I'd intended to get this blog out yesterday but life was so interesting out there today that I just decided to use today's pictures and NOW it is time to send this edition out. Have a wonderful week, all you out there. Oh, no. I forgot. I'd intended to use this nice little stinkbug nymph, which came all the way from Cape Town via our old friend Biddy Greene. I really enjoy seeing what passes for nature in the antipodes. They are now in what would seem to be October here. It rarely if ever gets cold enough there to freeze thanks to the nice Indian Ocean, which smashes into the cold Atlantic Ocean quite frequently, and that's why the Cape is called the Cape of Storms. Thanks for letting me say all that stuff, Biddy. I do hope it is mostly right, and you do have lovely little bug babies.

And finally, good wishes from me to you all and a promise that if I can keep from tripping on a sidewalk again soon I will be working as fast as possible to show you my environs. So

Good wishes from me to you all.

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copyright Martha O'Kennon 2017