December 2, 2018

Martha O'Kennon

The snow started the very day the leaves were raked into the street. By the time I had bought the new-fangled paper bags which are the only containers our street program will accept with leaves inside, the snow was again falling. Not much in the way of depth, but yes, the light snow is the kind that will turn to ice under your feet. Actually the person who shovels out the driveway and sweeps off much of the snow cover on the car was right on it. So I have been able to get the top of the car swept off the few days I had to drive somewhere. Sorry I haven't been inspired by the tiny quantity of snow to show you any pictures with snow as beautiful backdrop.

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.

There WERE Ants. Here's one called the Small Honey Ant, followed by another Small Honey Ant. I was sure that the big black one with the huge jaws would be a Black Carpenter Ant, but guess what? It's a Small Honey Ant too. So much for all I've learned about ants for the fall! One immensely important thing that nobody tells you (I must be too young to know that Small Honey Ant is the name of the large waiting-to-mate golden ant and False Honey Ant is its name when it is small: in other words, they are the same species!!! I just didn't have the sense to ask someone, for fear of derision!) But here (third) is a winged ant of another Species which appeared in September 2017. It's in the Wood, Mound, and Field Ants (Genus Formica) category. It got its first Genus ID from @stevenw12339 of iNat just an hour ago.

Many of our barklice are away for a season's holiday. But this month a new one arrived and stuck around for a while. It looked a little bit like our old friend the Fateful Lachesilla, but its wings fit it better than the old one. Its color is almost exactly the same reddish-orange. Our favorite tigery barklouse, graphopsocus cruciatus, was here too. I only spotted one beetle this week, and it glowed golden and red to compete with the first barklouse.

But for some reason, we've seen a few nymphal Assassin Bugs. Shouldn't they be dead or hiding in a bunch of weeds? I guess not - I haven't seen an adult Assassin in months. Oh my, there is an adult Boxelder Bug.... Closely followed by the Drymus unus dirt-colored seed bug. I wonder why D. unus is so comfortable here. Hardly anyone in iNat seems to have seen one. Aren't we the lucky ones? We should raise our rates. Just kidding there.

This week out there in the wind and chill, I found a new critter.. It has been identified as a "Giant Aphid". In correspondence with @glmory on iNat, I learned that both the old Maple tree that dropped a huge branch and that elderly Blue Spruce that drops its old cones around the shop, could have been the source of the giant Aphid, so it could be a Giant Conifer Aphid or a Giant Maple Aphid (the maples seem to be home to several distinct kinds of Giant Aphids.) Anyway, here is what this one looks like. Did you ever suspect that you would see a furry aphid?

This must be the season for those case-living moth larvae.

This creature looks to me like a Moth Fly, just with its features hidden. Images 1 and 2 may or may not represent the same Moth Fly. But Number 3 is something else (sorry, but it didn't come with a tag).

Here's one of those reddish harvestmen. What a beaut! I've seen both nice fat ones like this and also some baby ones - they must not mind the cold. Harvestmen! We can even start our spider collection! Here is a picture my pal Joey sent the other day of some kind of garden orbweaver! The light was a bit overpowering but you can see the spider in the middle of her web. The third image shows the spider looking a bit more distinct in the lowered light. Beautiful!

Here is a cellar spider that I first saw as a Harvestman because of its loooong legs! Second and third might be tagged as a Common House Spider (though I've never seen one with just this signature). The third picture is what I saw as a baby squirrel riding on a strange contraption. I must have been watching too many fund-raising specials on PBS lately.

It has not been the most beautiful of weeks if you want things like tall mountain peaks, a beach view, Northern Lights, --- NO, you will never see such sights in Albion, Michigan, unless there is a shift in the settings that lead to magnificent Northern Lights. (Honest, folks, we did use to see them back in the 80's). Some wonderful red shows. There really were. That was real. And there are no mountains in the best of times, and no beach around here. But it has been and done its own thing. Wish you were here to enjoy it with me. Or I were there, wherever you are.

Love, Martha

By the way, I have started a new collection of pictures for the hopeful blog of December 16, 2018. That should give us a few new critters to eavesdrop upon.


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copyright Martha O'Kennon 2018