November 25, 2018


Martha O'Kennon


More dark days and quite cold days for November. However, I notice that there has been at least one year in which there was only ONE blog in November. Anyway, on the coldest days in the past couple of weeks there were between 0 and 3 live bugs. To see all three of those I might have to get on coats and go out a couple of times. And if you wanted bright colors you might have shot the ONLY bright-colored bug I've seen in so long in a tiny pot with some still greenish leaves. This creature is something I would have seen this summer IF my milkweed were of eating age. It's a Small Milkweed Bug. Better now than never! How gorgeous of Nature to think of these colors in what must be just pre-Winter.



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.

Until just yesterday (Friday the 23d) I actually had not seen an ant, not one of our usual Carpenter and Sugar Ants at least. But then while cropping and looking up yesterday's creature count, I saw that the only small animal that looked like an ant was both an ant and red and alive! Then we saw that the one picture left labeled "ant" was shaped differently itself.



There were also still a couple of barklice. First and second here is a new-looking one about the same orange color as the Fateful Lachesilla (or its ilk, whichever is the one I've been calling F.L.). Its shape is off though. Third is my favorite, Graphopsocus cruciatus, seen yesterday in the heat of the chase.



Beetles? We had one that was obviously a beetle critter (Picture 1), which has been walking back and forth on the shop siding for a while, and just yesterday another - and this one a Rove Beetle (the hard wings that cover the soft flying wings seem to have been cut severely). (Picture 2 has a sharper back end and 3 has a sharper head region). I threw in Picture #4 because I frankly don't know if it's a beetle or a moth or anything else.



Bugs! I am not sure why these very ordinary-looking bugs (#1 and #2), Drymus unus, persevere in creeping around on the shop siding. Here. In South Central Lower Michigan. They appear so little in the maps of Bugguide. @Koinpro thinks they are trying to be known as "endangered". Not here at any rate. Number 3 may be a bug or a beetle. Number 4 is the larger picture in which our Small Milkweed Bug was found.



To the flies. Here is a Fungus Gnat - one of the common little flies and hence hardest to remember exactly! For me, a Gall Midge (#2) has sleazy pearl-strung antennae and long legs. The male Midge (#3) has feathery antennae.



This next big used-up fly was found in my basement foray. Since the happy hunting was off outdoors, I decided to go where no Martha had ever gone- downstairs. This Michigan basement was so hideous, covered with sheetwebs so that you had to duck to avoid getting a wrap. Finally on the way up the stairs I found a section next to an outside window where several spiders were quietly doing their things. This fly with the fancy blue metallic deco is one of the meals our spider had done in. The next fly was in another web (by another spider I think). The third fly I used to call a torchfly for some reason, but these tiny round-tummied flies don't exist under that monicker now if they ever did! The last character was on the lower frame of the back door. He or she looked fat and healthy. Of course that was the last warmish day out there.



I'd like to drift back past the flies now to look at what might be the cases of some kinds of moths, but they are cases, no matter their origin. This first one might be a container but where's the opening for its putative critter? The second one seems to have its opening at the bottom. Number 3 might be the same (and maybe not) as Number 2, but 5 days later. Number 4 has the expected segments out at the top so as to drag the case up the wall. Here is a Harvestman, one of a growing crop.



People, we are just about to start surveying the Wonderful World of Spiders. Some of them came off the shop siding, a few were found in the basement, and lately almost all of them have hidden out. Of the ones on the shop siding, you'll see how much some of them resemble the ones from the basement. That's because they are all Sheet-Web Weavers. These webs seem to be like horizontally supported multiple web layers. I suppose a nice broom with an old cloth wrapped around the business end could get rid of a lot of spiders and webs. But come on. So here first are some spiders from last week, some of which were taken at night. OK, first is a basement baby - I don't know why it has its arms folded out like this. Second is a familiar sight, isn't it? It's also a sheetweb spider, but moving like a "normal" spider. Apparently if you are really up on spider shapes, you will learn to tell the sheet-web spiders from others by their posture. Third is another with a shape you recognize from Number 2...



Another group of spiders from the basement. These ones are called long-bodied cellar spiders. At first I thought that Number 1 and Numbers Two and Three were different brands, but now I am thinking it's the angle at which I was seeing them. Numbers 2 and 3 look different, sort of like garlic cloves, but again that difference can be from the angle.



This beautifully patterned spider was out one of the nights I could stand to go out and look. It's called Steatoda triangulosa, Steatoda being a genus name of lots of cobweb spiders. The geometric pattern of gold and black changes a bit from spider to spider. I think it's one of the most attractive spider I've seen lately. Oh no, I need to get it into comparison with this Bold Jumper that was running around on the ceiling of my Turkey-Day hosts, Abby and Dickl. This is the first photo I got of it when I took it home. I used to think only the males had those bristling aqua mustaches, but if you look at the palps you will see that it is a female!



Here is a Garden Ghost Spider that was running around inside the outer works of the Shop's AC to keep warm, I guess. You can identify it by its long leopard-spotten abdomen and its big black mouthparts/eyes. There are always lots of Common House Spiders, like Number 2. Are those its eyes shining out from between the long arms? But the exciting thing is that one day when I was freezing my toes shooting on the Shop siding, I got this picture which, while I was cropping along, turned out to be one of my very favorite spiders, the Spider with the funny face, a lovely Mimetus puritanus. Maybe it showed up the week of Thanksgiving for some reason. Look how the design on its head flows downward to meet the eyes. Stunning design, intelligent or not.



So we are almost done, but we have some puzzlements about Wasps? Ants? Diapriids? It turns out that Diapriids are a kind of Wasp (I used to think they were a kind of ant.) One distingushing mark is that their antennae both protrude from a single organ on the head. This first one obeys that rule but also seems to have a diamond-shaped structure on its thorax. Wonder what that is? The second also has the antennae coming from a single spot, but I don't see any diamond-shaped construct on the thorax. Third is a ventral view of a diapriid.



Here are a couple of wasps we saw this week. Numbers 2 and 3 are the same wasp.



So there we have it. A very sparse month, punctuated by a good day here and there. It's a bit slippery out now and so I'm not doing the usual November night walk. But a couple of days like the one that brought us a couple of diapriids when we didn't even know what they are - I'm still reading up on them. Look, all of you take care of yourselves! If you are in sunny climes, save up the memories so that in May you can access them. If not, then just go to some of the summery blogs and think how few months will bring these treasures back to you.

Love, Martha

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