April 7, 2019

Martha O'Kennon

The daily temperatures seem to have evened out this week. Not much at 60 degrees F, but maybe about 50 average. Still we have had a contingent of trust-worthy little fellows on the shop wall, and the early flowers continue to delight in small doses. Above please find a few crocuses - they do cheer me up each time a new one volunteers. Even some of the not-particularly-early crocuses are now opening up: white with purple stripes, pure white, and a selection of colors.

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.

When I started writing this week's blog, I said there had been no ants. But during a blog break, I relaxed by taking a few more pictures. That's when this Small Honey Ant began running around the bottom of the shop siding just to make me wrong. No new bees though, but the honey bees never fail and their portraits will be shown inside of flowers. Beetles, on the other hand, were not lacking. That marsh beetle from last week was here again, and a tiny streak of a line turned out to be a "Minute Brown Scavenger Beetle". Honest to gossamer, I barely saw this thing at all - good thing the camera's auto function was able to decipher the "line" into something bright orangeish-red with great black eyes. It MIGHT belong to the genus Melanophthalma. Greek experts, "black eyes"! It is apparently very hard to identify even the genus without practically a microscope.

Here is a new kind of Rove Beetle, not like the one we saw last week. These have to be the shortest elytra (hard-shelled outer wings) I've seen. Second was a big surprise. The absolutely gorgeous disgusting red Lily-leaf Beetles are already ready to devour all my lilies. Last year they got the upper hand on me and even did in quite a few Tiger Lily plants.

The spigot for leafhoppers was left turned on and we managed to bag (how about that for a mixed metaphor?) two leafhoppers and a psyllid. Here is Erasmoneura vulnerata, which supposedly got its name because it looks as if it had been wounded. (vulnerable = woundable.) Actually, I don't see anything that looks like a wound. This is one of the bugs that comes to visit more frequently than most leafhoppers. Next is one of that large genus, Eratoneura. It comes in shades of red to pink to orange to yellow. Third is the psyllid Pachypsylla, a bit different genus than the one we saw last week. I could probably jettison a few more extra days trying to figure out exactly what the actual species is. There are just too many variations.

The head of this unknown creature looks like that of a bug. The second image is of a stilt bug, so called because of its very long legs.

What a beautiful Blue Bottle Fly. It was in the leaves next to the eastern side of the shop. Second is a tiny Crane Fly, which has very long legs and arms considering its build. Third is a Fungus Gnat with stiletto prongs on its joints.

Another surprise in the bag of extras I found on Friday was this immensely tiny (oxymorons of the world unite!) fly. I could barely see the little fly and went on to take more pictures of a little spider. But when I was cropping the day's take, I realized that the "spider" was in fact the same fly. When I was submitting this fly to iNat, the ID app that tries to help you find a potential identification suggested Orthonevra nitida, a fly with amazing markings on its eyes. Now my fly was obviously not that one, but I went on searching in a family that I hoped would be related to mine. Sunday morning, April 7, I logged on to iNat and found that @edanko, a great fly expert, had identified it as far as "Shore Fly". Now I have a direction to go in looking it up. Third is a pair of unknown flies mating.

A few more mysterious pictures: First a shadow puppet play with an unidentified fly and its partner. Then a subtle iridescence from another unknown fly. Finally an ordinary-looking fly in the dead leaves.

A quick break to check in on the progress of the early spring flowers. First are the little light yellow crocuses that escaped my yard to go live with the neighbors. Actually that degree of agency is obviously crazed, but maybe you will believe the squirrels dug up a small cheekful of bulbs and trotted across a yard to bury the bulbs. I would pick that choice... The snowdrops still healthy over there, and my own back yard squills getting ready to add their brilliant blue to the overall scene.

I don't know what this sawfly is looking for, but it is a sawfly, a member of Hymenoptera: Bees, Ants, Wasps, and Sawflies. I remember the Mountain Ash tree we had in front of our house in Potsdam, N.Y.. Our neighbor Roger would come over each time the Mountain Ash Sawfly larvae were busily dismantling the buds that would have made brilliant red berries later in the season. He sprayed the whole tree, but to no avail. We rarely saw a single berry! The most astonishing thing about the whole situation was how the larvae sat side by side on either side of a picnic table (that's what it seemed like to me), munching in unison, munching, munching. Maybe the spray was a condiment to them. Anyway, I don't know which sawfly this little fellow is! Here is a second view. Third here is that last springtail from last week. Someone on iNat identified it to family Isotomiidae.

On the 3rd and 5th of April, we were visited by two individuals of the Stonefly family. First is the April 3rd version. Second is the other individual. Its wings seem a lighter shade. It was very oddly climbing up a few inches up the siding and then fall back into the grass shoots, and then repeat this climb, fall, climb, fall process. Last image: the stonefly down in the grass shoots.

The spiders were pretty spunky this week. That wolf spider showed up again today. They tend to hold a posture similar to jumping spiders, and also look forward like jumpers. The next one may be a dwarf spider like this one in BG: Disembolus corneliae. I'm only going on the long blunt abdomen. The third one is another dwarf spider (genus Grammonota), maybe G. pictilis? You must remember, which I don't usually, that in a lot of these species, you need to get up close and personal with a scalpel or camera. Grammonota contains a lot of species that seem to have a transparent shiny outer layer over a pattern in light brown.

About a month back, I'd seen a tiny baby Orchard Orbweaver, Leucauge venusta on the southwest corner of the shop. This week another appeared on the east side and persisted for a few days. This one was between .5 and 1 millimeter, very tiny. But the familiar ladder-like design gives it away if you are looking at one side. Yesterday, April 6th, the baby finally turned away and I got a shot of the backside, with its typical "bright pink smile". It took me a lot of convincing that this was L. venusta, but now I'm hooked. To think that when it is an adult, it will look like images 3 and 4!

Another look at the crocuses in the front garden (I'm willing to start calling it that now). First, a closeup of some of the early ones. The third picture is of a cluster of white crocuses under the trumpetvine-to-be.

The fishes are in fact spending more time roaming away from the heater. The brown fish, which make up about half the genetic pool in this pond, are now easier to see in this light. The middle picture shows one of the first magenta leaves of the magenta water lily. I love the play of the red leaf against the tree mirrored in the water. Picture 3 is the leaf of a larger lily plant.

Did I mention that after a month or so of absence, the (a) green frog appeared again at the edge of the pond? Well, it did. Just for future comparison, this one was about 3-4cm long (no legs, just what you see there).

Amazingly, Spring seems to have changed its mind and decided to come after all. The cast of characters has increased week by week and I'm looking forward to summer when I can see the more colorful creatures and complain about the heat. Hoping you are all doing as fine as can be expected and then some more.

Love, Martha

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copyright Martha O'Kennon 2019