April 1, 2018

Martha O'Kennon

A typical March week: drippy, cold, not cold, warm. Just right for April Fools Week. Our white hellebore is blooming nicely, especially in comparison with last year's showing. Image #2: Tulips (might need some thinning by now - I planted them at least 10 years ago). And image 3 shows how late the purple hellebore is in the front yard.

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 new camera was working well on the ant population. And the ants were pretty cooperative too! These are but one of the species under "carpenter ant".

This row shows a fungus gnat with dark wings. There are many species of fungus gnats with different color patterns. And particularly at this time of year! One way to tell a fungus gnat from other little flies is to note the long spike on the back legs.

The other common fly at this time (early spring) is the midge. Midges look a lot like mosquitoes, but (even though they do occur as biting midges) this one just sits still and lets you take its portrait. This first one is a male, which you can tell by noting how the antennae are made of many many individual bristles. The next two images are of females.

I do believe that this next creature is the nymph of a favorite bug, Acanthocephala terminalis. This bug is one of my favorites because it takes on so many intermediate disguises as it grows to adulthood. Picture 2 is the first form I saw it in -- the disco-dancing bug in the blue tutu. The next one is another master of disguise - a shiny brownish Beetle. What tipped me off was the clubby antennae.

Do you remember the little green Froggy, who showed up in July last year and hung in in or around the pond until I had to cover it to keep out some of the maple leaves that were falling onto the pond? Image 1 shows Froggy in September. The next two pictures show F. this week. What a surprise! I thought the difficulty getting around in the pond with a lot of leaves in it might preclude F. from coming back for this season!

Here are two views of one of our favorite pillbugs (woodlice, sowbugs).

The front yard collection of bulbs is getting going. Picture 1 shows a beginning of the squills (scylla). I finally remembered to rake the leaf mulch off of that small section of the yard. The orange leaves would have been green like the lower-left leaves in picture 2. Image 3 is of the early buds on the Japonica (Japanese Quince). If it gets a big showing of orange flowers, it might even attract an oriole.

I didn't spot any springtails this week, but yes to a few kinds of spiders. Some of them I can venture a guess at. But most were fairly fast-moving spiders of various kinds! Number 1 looks like a young Common House spider male - because of the gorgeous reddish color and long red front legs. Number 2 looks very nearly the same, except for a darker color, which might be a feature of the darker environment. Image 3 looks as if it is morphing into a female.

This first one continues in the progression to becoming a female Common House spider. The second one, whatever it is, is a male, as you can see by its nice big round pedipalps, the things that look like boxing gloves and allows the male to deposit sperm straight from them into the female's epigynum. It is some kind of cobweb spider though. My friend Barb brought over this next spider (image 3). It was quite large in comparison to most of what I've seen lately (maybe 7-8 mm). Pictures of it continue in the next block.

We continue with photos of the spider from Barb, who lives about 5 blocks from here. First is an ordinary dorsal view. Then comes a ventral view.

Spring is here (more or less - I hear they are planning some more snow for next week!) Keep in touch!

Love, Martha

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copyright Martha O'Kennon 2017