November 12, 2017

Martha O'Kennon

Dear friends, This will be a shortish blog. I've been a bit under the weather. The worst of my problems has been some double vision, which makes focusing photos quite difficult. More later on that. There have been only a few days worth taking pictures. These pictures come mostly from October 29 and the past two days, November 6 and 7. These berries were attached to a plant whose name I'm not sure of. But they look sweet in the jumble of weeds they found themselves surrounded by. Today I got this picture of the trees going down the street in various shades of nudity, redness and gold. If you click once or twice on this image, you can see how the colors of the maples along the sidewalks. In picture 2, That's my nearly bare one, then a red and a golden one, covered up by my euonymus.

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.

Here is the last ant I've seen for a while. It was very cold and still. But the barklice have been amazing. The most common one, the tigery yellow, black and clear ones, must have been growing for some time, as they are becoming easier to see and photograph. Now I can see their little heads clearly in the photo. Surprise! Just as I'm telling you that was the last ant, on November 11 I see this little one scurrying in a rare ray of sun.

And here, I think, is the kind of barklouse I don't see much, but it appeared this week, so you can see it. Next is one of the zillions of Asian Lady Beetles, and third is a "Dark-colored Asian Lady Beetle", whose spots are so large they run together. I've already rescued and released a dozen or more of these beetles from my bedroom. Don't worry, they all get a chance to walk out the bathroom window.

Here's a nice little black beetle, no idea what kind, but it's pretty, and guess what! It's so far the only beetle of this two-week period. The next bug up is a lovely house-guest for many people. On my porch, they insert themselves between the green clap-boards. In some other lucky people's houses,they're the guest who came to dinner but never left. OK, I'm going to tell you some more about my double vision. Apparently I had a kind of stroke at some point in the past two weeks. I woke up on a Friday morning with a bad headache, but it went away by noon and didn't really hurt any more than my usual sinus headaches. I may have noticed some double vision but it didn't register, though I felt like falling down, which is not something I'm not prone to anyway. On the Monday, I was sitting in a class and noticed I was dribbling coffee out the left side of my face and then that I could only smile on the right side. I sat through the class and then went to the drugstore to get some aspirin in case it was a stroke. The pharmacist handed me the PDR (Physician's Desk Reference) and I was pretty sure this was Bell's Palsy, an inflammation of the facial nerve, which causes the facial symptoms I had had, but which should go away spontaneously. Since I was going to Chelsea anyway on Thursday, I made an appt with my PCP (primary care physician}, who also agreed it was probably Bell's, but sent me to a neurologist for Monday. The new doctor said that the double vision told her that this was a stroke, not Bell's. I was so surprised! OK, here's another of those case creatures, which are either "bagworms" or actually kinds of moths that just go on living in that case!. In the cases of this first one, doesn't it seem to be wearing out its case? Lastly, here's a different one in a softer case.

Yesterday's catch included this adult long-necked seed bug, and these two loyal red and white leafhoppers, who belong to the Genera Erythroneura and Arboridia respectively. Now it isn't easy to focus on these tiny critters with one eye (the other in a patch), but amazingly I was able to focus fairly well with the dominant eye (right), but then suddenly I realized that I was working so hard at it that a lot of the pictures were actually not worse than many others I'd taken in my career. And after while, I decided to try it with the "lazy"(left) eye were better than the dominant eye. What seems to happen is that the left eye cannot track the right, but is actually a pretty damn good eye as far as sending images to the optic nerve. It's just that when I veer to the right, the left eye can't track the right and so I get a very vivid 3d picture of the things on the right bending down to smack me. It's a very interesting if disconcerting and clumsifying phenomenon. Can you say "Phantasmagoria"? I wish I could make a movie of this phenomenon. Better than LSD, I'll bet!

Here is that adult Green Stink Bug that we have been awaiting, hiding in a crevice in the siding! I hope you remember the nymphal state that has been appearing in the yard for a month or so. Here it is too. In other years I got pictures of an even younger and greener nymphal form. Here is one from 2015.

That's all the beetles and all the bugs from this past week. It really is getting to be winter. But I do have some good news for you. For several years, I've been seeing this brown and black bug. It will overwinter and show me itself VERY OFTEN! But I have never been able to identify it. Finally a couple of days ago I posted one from 2015 on and a colleague from Quebec identified it as a "Dirt-colored Seed Bug". Here it is, back from 2015, hanging out on the bottom rim of the shop siding, among a great deal of tiny debris particles. Looking back on the week's offerings, I am thinking that a lot of this debris is tiny egg clumps, most of them not really in the tight groups in which they were laid. The barrel-shaped eggs seem to me to be typical stink bug eggs. Stinkers tend to lay their cylindrical eggs in a flat mass (not all jumbled up) on the siding. There is even a tiny tiny wasp that adores these eggs. In the lower-right corner of this second image you will see a tiny wasp. You can see that something has hatched from some of the cells (they are open). Along the top row of this picture, you will see what looks like tiny escapees. I'm not sure the wasps haven't also escaped from the cells. What I'm getting at is the fact that some wasps lay their eggs in the eggs of her prey, so that we would see the fat baby wasp emerging from an otherwise empty egg casing. Picture three is my best shot of one of the little wasps, showing its wings with a dot on each, and its golden abdomen. (The last two images are from September 11, 2015 and August 18,2015, respectively.) Reminder: if clicking on a picture results in a smaller picture than you like, you can press CTRl+ to enlarge the screen temporarily.

Before we hit the flies, here is one fish photo, which I took while enjoying a patch of sun next to the pond. The other end of the leaf net needs to be dumped out as it is lying heavily in the water. If anyone would like to volunteer, I won't say no. Since the fishes begin to lower their little metabolisms when the temperature goes down. That means I won't be feeding them until spring now. But you can see how healthy Pinky and Chico are. Pinky is one of my oldest fishes. He is the sole survivor of the cataclysm that occurred, probably in 2014-15, when a raccoon disconnected the pond pump tubing so that all the water was pumped out of the pond. I refilled it but no fishes seemed to have survived. A few weeks later, I bought a couple of new fishes, a new calio fantail Fanny, and a couple of pretty shubunkins including Callie, a male who helped Callie repopulate the pond. A few minutes after I'd released the new fishes into the pond, the other shubunkin came up with a friend - Pinky, sole survivor, who must have gotten enough water from a wrinkle at the pond bottom! But for now let's look at the few fly pictures from the past two weeks. Here is a crane fly that we've seen before, and another few common flies.

A few more flies. Numbers 2 and 3 are the same fly.

Lately we've seen about half and half little baby harvestmen and adults. Here is a VERY large one from November 6, and a baby one from the same day but a distance away from the first.

Here are a brown lacewing from November 8, and a possible looper (Geometrid caterpillar) who showed up in the pictures while I was cropping on October 29. Last are two different loopers from different ends of the shop, the last of which was busily loping around and casting an immense shadow.

This little creature might be a moth. What do you think? The second one is a real mystery. If it's a case creature, it looks as if the case might have been knit for it. Any ideas for what the third one might be?

Spider people, you'll be happy to know that this period we saw TWO whole kinds of spider. Here's your old friend the Common House Spider, and as a surprise, here's also what looks rather like a mask, maybe of a Samurai. Next we have a Ground Crab Spider, which is not a name for an entree at a diner. Remember them? They hold their front legs together like chopsticks, well usually they do it better than this. They are much meatier than the little flower crabs that I take so many pictures of. Third is one that looked the other day in that somewhat flat wintry light as if it were part cornflake, very wizened and dry.

Referring to that very corn flake spider, when the sun hit it, it seemed suddenly to take on dimension and now we see it is a Pirate Spider of genus Mimetus. How about that? And we do have one more spider - a very chilly Grass Spider.

I think by now you will appreciate just a couple of scenery pictures. I don't usually show pictures of my house, but it looks quite cool among the euonymus that desperately needs to be trimmed. Now to sneak in just a bit more of a progress report - I can now smile, I hardly dribbled any coffee today, and now it is much easier to get some notes out of my flute. I'd say the double vision is the most annoying symptom I still have and I hate looking like a pirate without her parrot. I hope that turning the heater up in the little porch will save the plants that have come in for the winter. They have been looking awfully droopy. Here's the Winter cactus budding up, and here's another shot of it. My little jade plant, son of Jadesy, which was too big to get through the door, was outside all summer but did not set any buds - it's really awfully small yet. Let's hope it survived my slowness to get the temperature out there adjusted.

So my friends, another shortish blog, but it surely was good to be able to do it. Seeing the computer screen isn't too bad, and since I have clearance not to give up any of my activities, I'm still with you. I'd thought I might doctor up another poem for you but I didn't. Hope to see you soon!!


Oh wait, did you notice that was really four spiders?
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copyright Martha O'Kennon 2017