June 10, 2018

Martha O'Kennon

We've certainly already had more rain than we saw from June to September of last year. This means a lot of wading through damp weeds to get as many pictures as possibble for this week's blog. The goutweed, that most ubiquitous and least gorgeous of ground covers, has fulfilled its promise of attracting a goodly number of tiny creatures that I never see elsewhere. Here is one with an Andrena (genus) BEE and an undiagnosed fly. Several kinds of ferns are filling the spaces with their lovely foliage. And the raspberry flower buds of earlier weeks are now making themselves into raspberries. Yum. I can't wait!

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 first little Ant is a Small Honey Ant. It is small but there are other ants even smaller. This week I got up the energy to try for the honor of photographing the almost invisible little ants that are to be found in many contexts, and to my surprise, they turn out to be a lovely color of gold. Ant number two is Temnothorax curvispinosus, which means it has a curved spine. Just my kind of ant! If you recall the little yellow/gold "psyllid" or "barklouse" from last week's blog, it turned out to be a yellow APHID. I had never noticed that we had yellow aphids, but now I see them everywhere, meaning in lots of places.

This week we did find a barklouse- reddish brown with yellow eyes. I have not gotten any identification yet, but really admire this one. Here is a largish bumblebee, which seems to be just waking up from a rainy night. Oops, you know, I do believe this "Bumblebee" is one of the Bumblebee mimicking Flies of genus Laphria! On the other hand, this small bumblebee and several others thought the Baptisia the best fast food shop of all.

Here is a little metallic-looking bee in the goutweeed, and then another kind of tiny bee in there too. But now we are out of bees and must move on to the beetles. Carpet beetles, so rarely noticed, are conspicuous with their presence in the goutweed. Here are a few of the variable kind. The last one here is the Common Carpet Beetle, easy to recognize by its reddish central stripe.

First up here is a Flower Longhorn Beetle, in fact two of them. And then a Tumbling Flower Beetle, recognizable by its smoothly curving body line. Two very different kinds of Flower Beetles!

This black beetle looks so much like the build of a Valgus Beetle, but who knows? And here is another. Here is an Asian Lady Beetle, followed by the nymph of another. I think the quantity of Lady Beetle nymphs last year has sensitized my eyes to seeing other ones this year.

Speaking of Lady Beetles, here is one (two views) of the perplexing Fourteen Spot Lady Beetle. I don't know how they count spots. Anyway, here is another Fourteen Spot, but look how different how different this one is from the first.

The shop wall still has a few beetle devotees. Here is a red one, and here a browner one. They occurred so close together in space and time that I'm still not sure they are different species. Finally, an Oulema Beetle, which we've seen previously.

Here's another of those little black weevils from last week. And a very nondescriptly-colored weevil. And a very round greenish weevil (?).

This green weevil glowed pinkish but that color didn't show up in the picture. The next is appropriately named "pale green weevil" but the number of "green" and "pale green" bugs, especially weevils is large, so again, who knows? These two weevils are the end of the beetles, so let's look at the bugs. This last picture is the nymph (fairly far along if you go by the length of the baby wings) a Plant Bug of some denomination. Those puppies don't hold still very well. Maybe that's why they can do so much damage to your prized plants. In fact, this Four-lined Plant Bug is the adult form of that red mirid I have been seeing so much.

This fellow is an assassin bug nymph. From its red eyes, I deduce that it is Zelus luridus. But the very next shot surprised me so much -- I was zooming in on the red-bellied Blood Bee and totally didn't see the ADULT Z. luridus chomping on it. In the next shot, I was about to call this bug a whitefly or a planthopper, but a friend on iNaturalist.org clued me in on the true ID, Duskywings, on the basis of the neck, saying that the other two don't have necks.

See, Boxelder Bugs have a life outside your house, here seen on an aster leaf. I usually think of the Lygus Plant Bug as arriving at the end of the season, but here are possibly two species from now, June.

Here is a Stilt Bug. I had a hard time finally identifying it because it seemed to me to have a rostrum for stabbing other bugs. Finally a friend from iNaturalist responded, saying that what I was seeing as a rostrum was actually other mouthparts. So now it's officially a Stilt Bug. They are so delicate! Now one of my very favorite treehoppers - the Keeled Treehopper. (I prefer to call it the Camel Treehopper, can you see why??) Can you make out its little yellow pentagonal eye? Must be one of those Shamans in the Natural World.

Now for one of my other favorite groups of bugs -- The Leafhoppers. I sometimes don't feel the day is complete unless I find a new Leafhopper. This week was wonderful - found several ones new to me. The first one (three views) - Agalliopsis novella - looks patriotic in its use of red, white and blue. It is . By the way, take a look at the hind legs of all these hoppers. Do you see the spiny protuberances from those legs? They are how you know these really are leafHOPPERS, for those spines form a kind of ratchet movement that lets the bug hop.

The next three views are of a second kind of Leafhopper, genus Macropsis.

Here is a Sharpshooter (a kind of Leafhopper). Its back legs may or may not have the spines typical of a leafhopper. We will have to keep our eyes trained on it. Next is a lovely pale green leafhopper. And third seems to be the Nymph of some kind of Leafhopper.

Now for the flies. I never saw so many different ones. Most of them I don't know the names of. But I'll show you as many as I can.

This first one is sitting on my music stand in my bedroom. I have had to take out my trusty butterfly net to bag these guys. Next is a Snipe fly. The beautiful little long-legged flies are out and just beautiful!

Here is a Dance Fly. We saw one like it last week. Do you happen to remember what they live on? Nope? They are the principle predator of the March Flies. This little yellow, black and red fly is a leaf miner. That's who makes the white lines on a leaf by eating right in the inside of the leaf. There are many kinds of Miners. Some are flies, some moths, some beetles. This pretty little fly may be a relative of the fruit flies.

Here is a new Hover Fly, the Variable Duskyface Fly (Melanostoma mellinum). Here is a fly that mimics a bee. It's called the Narcissus Bulb Fly. Next is a Moth Fly, a fly that resembles a moth. And last, a Striped-leg Fly, which is a kind of Robber Fly.

Here is an interesting little fly. Its thorax pattern looks a bit like a tic-tac-toe board. The next one has the tic-tac-toe pattern on the abdomen. The next-to-last has stripes running in opposite modes from back to front. I wonder if it's the same as the last one.

Here are some of this week's mosquito batch. Hungry little nuisances.

More flies. I'm going to declare a moratorium on flies for a while, so as to get a good sample of other stuff.

Harvestmen. This is the first time we've seen one of our good old reddish ones from last year.

Some colors. The unhardy hibiscus out on the deck for the summer. The Carboniferous horsetails.

Here we have our baby katydid, and two kinds of slugs climbing about the wet weeds.

Spiders finally! Here are a baby Cross Orbweaver, a pair of Common House Spiders, a running Crab Spider, and a Striped Jumping Spider..]

A baby spider. We have to watch to see what it develops into. Second is a baby Cross Orbweaver (different view from before). Third, my favorite funny-face spider. And fourth, an early Ancistrocerus adiabatis potter wasp.

For the past two years, I've been catching fleeting glances of the Cuckoo Wasp, a diminutive bright blue wasp that has the tendency to disappear at the sight of a camera. This week I was out early in the morning on a damp cool day and found this little fellow still snoozing in a raspberry flower. I tried holding back a leaf so as to see it better. Gradually it came to life and crawled onto my hand, where it did no damage. I promise, I don't do this ever! But it was so pretty, so I kept taking pictures, one-handed when necessary and gradually got a few decent ones. I was so excited! This would have been on my bucket list if I had one. I still remember the thrill when I first saw this one on the goutweed a couple or three years ago. There are two kinds, one called a gasteruption and the other a gasterejection. I am not sure what this ichneumon's real name is. But isn't she a sweetie?

A few more flowers for all of us: Water Lilies, a Blood Bee in a single flower of the Cranesbill Geranium, Baptisia and goutweed making friends, and a clump of Dame's Rocket.

Dream of beautiful things, old friends.

Love, Martha

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