February 3, 2019

Martha O'Kennon

What a winter! This is going to be a very short blog, but just to get you used to seeing what's out there. Too bad the answer to that question (What's out there?) is mostly NOTHING. I'm used to going for a good fallow spell in December and January, but this is ridiculous. I did very little night hunting but even when I did go out at night, it was very quiet. What you see above are three little creatures found about the first part of January 2019: a final reddish barklouse; a little beetle with a brownish thorax and reddish wings; and our home bug, Drymus unus. It has now been here since the goldenrod flowers were turning brown - a very faithful fall and winter friend!

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.

Here are a couple of flies - a black fungus gnat; a gall midge; and a mysterious spider in the outside GFI box! The spider's legs remind me of the Scarecrow of OZ.

The moth flies are dressed in their furry snowsuits - I particularly like the one waltzing with its reflection in the shop siding.

One of the interesting things that happened in January was that a person posted a picture I recognized as looking like one of my pictures. Mine (below) was taken in July of 2016. It showed a Black Walnut leaf with a green swelling, probably a gall caused by a mite. We had some conversation as to whether our galls were the same, since the other guy's picture was taken in Northern California and the Northern California Black Walnut tree and our Eastern Black Walnut are different species. There was even some doubt in my mind that my "Black Walnut" might actually be a Butternut. I finally found a website comparing the Eastern Black Walnut with the Butternut. One of the problems I was having in nailing down my tree was that it was deepest winter and no leaves, no critters on the leaves. But it turns out that in the winter, when the leaves fall out, they leave a "leaf scar". I'd read that the Butternut's leaf scar looked like a camel's face. But it turns out that so does the Eastern Black Walnut. But the Walnut's camel face does not have a shock of hair-like fibers above the face. Look at our baby (last two pictures): No bangs! The second one is just below the tip of a twig.

Here is the last view of life in January - a gall wasp. As you can tell, I have a new interest in galls. Some are caused by mites, midges, wasps, and a number of other creatures. The pink/red gall in the center picture is probably caused by a wasp, maybe a relation of the one in picture #1. That is an ant tending the gall, not the wasp, who laid her egg in the oak leaf and left her larva to grow inside, forcing the leaf to create a protective covering - THAT is the gall. Sort of like the pearl that grows around an irritating bit of sand inside an oyster's shell!

The pond wasn't covered with ice the whole month. Here it is with a fish or two swimming slowly, and the redbud tree covered with pods hanging over the pond. These pictures were taken in the first week of January. I wonder why the pods are hanging UP rather than DOWN.

So did that feel as if no time has gone by at all? The desk clerk's tears keep flowing, the bellhop's dressed in black. We've been so long in lonely pond, but now we're getting back. Or else.

Love, Martha

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copyright Martha O'Kennon 2019