April 15, 2018

Martha O'Kennon

April 13, 2018. Much warmer especially as the week has gone on. I was able to spend a good bit of time outside yesterday in shirt sleeves taking pictures of the quite a few new bug friends that seem to love that blue siding on the shop. The crocuses out front are pretty nearly fully in bloom. This is just one patch of easy-spreading purple crocuses. My neighbor had so many a couple of years after planting them. (I believe they were distributed to Harrington School students for May Day maybe 15 years ago.) Not everything takes immediately to everywhere, but those bulb starters took to my yard as they had next door. Year by year, the squirrels also managed to hide a lot of purple crocus bulbs and by now there are purple cacti all over the front yard garden.

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.

This week was actually a very late introduction of some warmth just as I was champing at the bit - a powerful impulse to get out back and see what visitors had arrived so far. It was a great combination of not-so-cold temperature and a new powerful camera. I would TAKE OFF the LENS CAP and turn on the camera. There are a confusing set of things one has to do in order to create a green rectangle inside which one encloses the major critter or other scene and now the Automatic Focus automatically focuses on th scene. It suddenly seems to have CAUGHT the scene, and "dinged" a tiny bell and if you have pushed the "take-it" button halfway down before, you finish the downward push and now your little scene exists on the little memory card in the computer. You can open the last picture taken and enlarge it to see what you have and if it isn't nice enough, you retake the picture until you are happy with the result! After a while your curiosity takes over and you take the camera inside and dump (the elegant term for spilling out the latest photos into the computer) the images into the computer. Here are a few shots of the carpenter ants I took this week, down to the hair on their abdomens. Number one is one of the generic Carpenters but Number 2 is one I am just about to learn about - an Eastern Black Carpenter ant - the golden hairs on its abdomen are one of the giveaways. I believe image #3 shows a pair (male on top) mating. The female is hard to parse, but she seems to have wings and her head has what looks like one real-looking antenna! That antenna is also different from the antennae in the first two images. Aha! I now think that pair are Wasps, which I do not know.

Now what do you think of this new ant? Wait! Stop right now! How many legs? I counted 8. This muppet seems to be a SPIDER mimicking an ANT. If true, this behavior just adds itself to a long list of spiders and insects mimicking ants. Actually, I believe I've changed my mind yet again. I now think those golden globes where an ant's head would be are the pedipalps of a male spider, what spider I dunno! Image #2 is a new Aphid. At first I believed I was seeing a Psyllid, but the wing venation seems to be that of one of the green aphids. Last is another creature which mimics an ant, but it is really a Diapriid, also in the Order Hymenoptera but in the genus Coptera!

Image #1 is one of the Asian Lady Beetles that has just lately been eclosing (coming out of its pupal shell).Another beetle is out too. This first image is a very small beetle with brown-orange abdomen. Some of the dust from some other creature coming out on the siding seems to be on its thorax. Another bright brownish orangish beetle let me catch it a few times, as in these last two images. Amazingly all these beautiful beetles are so small to the naked eye that they seem like a glimpse of some kind of orangish dots!

The Bugs are back too. A red-and-black Box Elder Bug seems to be unwedging itself from the slots between the steps from deck to ground level. Next is the gorgeously decorated Birch Catkin Bug, one of the big successes of the new camera (Click on the image). Next is one of the most common leafhoppers: of Genus Arboridia.

This next is one of the prettiest little orange bugs I've seen, but I was clueless as to what it was. Happily another person on iNaturalist.org recognized it as a brown lacewing. I couldn't see it at first because it seemed to have its wings folded about it, and I couldn't see the familiar side view of the second picture.

The common flies (Midges, Biting Midges), Fungus Gnats, and Crane Flies) spent some of their Spring Holidays here. First two images are of a tiny Crane Fly (though its legs don't seem to know about the "tiny" business. Next is one that is also tiny, but big enough for me to spot it as a Crane Fly of a different group than the first one.

First up: A fungus gnat(with light wings); #2: fungus gnat with dark wings; #3: a dark-winged fungus gnat trying to fold itself up into a ball (probably not really, just what it looked like to ME).

Midges of the week: A female midge (a male would have had fluffy antennae); a male midge; a male Chironomid Midge- What a Beauty!!!

Some more flies! First up: I do not want to see a human-sized one of these. The last three images are of a fly that seems to refract light in an interesting manner.

Froggy! On the colder days, Froggy is to be found in the water. Here he/she is under one of the flat stones that ring the pond. The second shot is of Froggy out of the pond on a warmer day. Their colors don't look the same. The first image shows a frog that actually looks like a green frog, to the banded socks. But in the out-of-water shots, he/she looks black, but maybe greenish black. But is it the same frog? Hard to tell. Let's hop to the spiders for a bit, while I think about the frog puzzle. Some of the little ground crab spiders ae big enough to spot as ground crab spiders (or one of the other big spiders in genus Thomasidae) with the naked eye. Then the camera actually does a pretty good job on catching the picture.

More Spiders! This first one I THINK I've identified as a cobweb spider in the genus Theridiosoma, called a Ray Spider. The second one is a real little baby Pirate Spider in the genus Mimetus, one of my favorite genera. Stare at it and it looks like a very evil human face. The left eye seems to have a glint in it. The last one is another ground crab spider (look, for the last time, it is not a spider that eats ground crab. It is a crab spider that lives in the ground (I guess).).

Just a couple more odd pix. The only springtail I got this week; a tiny baby spider with its midge prey; dear little Tripper and Big Bunny greeting each other at the door.

A few little crocus pix (and one bunch of Scylla to round off with):

This is the original bit about the weather - it turns out to have been a very nasty end to the week. We seem to have had icy rain all day Sunday (yesterday) and so I decided to skip driving all day. The other odd thing on Sunday was that the icy rain seemed to have taken down tree[trees] in such a way that a large part of Michigan had no cable TV service, and that's what we need in order to work on the internet and that includes sending out this blog. So what a week for seeing old friends and meeting new ones too! Love to all of you and to me too!

Love, Martha

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copyright Martha O'Kennon 2018