July 7, 2019

Martha O'Kennon

Oh bring back the coolth of early June. It has been so blerry hot and humid here (nice for alliteration if not health). I've spent the last week or more mostly indoors or sneaking out to try to find something worth photographing. Listen, I'm going to say this once and then shut up. Do you remember the lovely pond in my back yard? Well, not only have the algae turned it green but now the raccoons have been coming in fishing at night and they have trashed the lilies and plants. I've covered it in unwieldy scraps of chicken-wire to try to discourage them. No more about the pond till the exterminator/extirpator comes to trap a few raccoons. Meanwhile, here is one of the late water lilies. Think of it as a sample of what the pond will come back to after a while. Second is that spiderwort again. I still love it. And lastly, some of the annuals in a deck box - some little pinks and a bit of ageraturm/heliotrope.

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 are ants everywhere! They come in through the woodworking to help the cats clean up their wet-food dish. Haven't seen them in the sugar bowl yet though. Mostly they are outside, you'll be relieved to know. The larger ants seem to have replaced the little Acrobats in their Nanny duty with the treehopper nymphs. Here is probably an Eastern Black Carpenter on duty. Picture 2 was actually left over from last week's collection, but shows some kind of interaction between a couple more EBC's. And here is one in my neighbors' new redbud tree.

The oak saplings have several kinds of tiny ants. Here are two Myrmicine Ants on oak leaves. And here - this one looks like a Small Honey Ant.

I'm having trouble deciding if this first one really is an ant. I've never seen that shape of abdomen, er gaster, before. Numbers 3 and 4 are mysteries too. I like the way the head looks concave like a helmet!

Do you remember this nymph of the barklouse Metylophorus novaescotiae? We saw it last week. Well, here it is all grown up. Of course Polypsocus corruptus is still with us.

This Tumbling Flower Beetle was identified by my friend Kimberlie Sasan on iNat as Mordellaria serval. What a name for such a pretty beetle. Number 3 was found in the house. Boria Buche ID'd it as a Fungus Weevil of the Tribe Zygaenodini.

B. Buche also ID'd this first beetle as a Leaf Beetle named Bromius obscurus. And also the second one! There must be some kind of sexual dimorphism going on here! The third one is a Metallic Flea Beetle of genus Altica.

We've seen this black Weevil before and I still don't have a name for it - there are so many that look alike to beginners! Meanwhile, here is one beetle with a red spot, and another thing that looks a disembodied head now but that I thought was a strange beetle at first.

Bugs.. Here, I thought, were two Zelus Assassin Bugs. The first doesn't have red eyes, so I thought it was Zelus tetracanthus, the Other Assassin Bug - Michigan only has two species! But now I'm sure it is actually a Long-necked Seed Bug. The second one does have red eyes, so it is Zelus luridus. The "luridus" bit doesn't mean "lurid" here, but GREEN. The third bug is probably a Plant Bug of genus Lygus. It is hiding inside a Daylily flower.

Here is another Plant Bug, a black-and-white one. The second one is another kind of Plant Bug of genus Neolygus. But maybe it isn't a Plant Bug at all. Look what it's doing with its proboscis - it's slurping up a small creature. Maybe Plant Bugs can also be carnivorous (insectivorous in this case). I was worried about this and so went to Bugguide and found this bug also in the genus Neolygus. It seems that there is something to study here.

Last week we had the nymph of the Meadow Spittle Bug (picture 1). And this week, today in fact, I found this adult where the nymph used to be. They grow up so fast!

We've been spending a good bit of time lately visiting the community of the Ant nannies, their Nymph charges, and the Adult Two-mark Treehoppers that live in our Redbud Trees. This community is comprised of the three species: the Ant, the nymph and adult Treehoppers, and the host plant the Redbud. The big old Redbud that John Hart gave me maybe twenty-five or thirty years ago now houses many loci rented out by the Ant and Bug tenants. Some of the saplings, offshoots of BOT (Big Old Tree), now also support Ant-Bug tenants. Here are a nymph and an adult I saw on one of the saplings on July 4 while YOU were watching the tank-o-rama in DC on TV. Where was the ant hiding? Maybe it thought the nymph was old enough to be able to complete its transformation on its own.

But we also have ANOTHER Ant-Treehopper-Thistle community, just a different species of Treehopper. This one is the so-called Keeled Treehopper, Entylia carinata. Actually I would have called it by a different part of a ship - the sails, instead of the Keel. Here's the picture I showed you last week of this community this year. See the squarish-looking "sails" on the back of the adult...There are also a fairly large number of tiny nymphs. But just to show you some of the stages (instars) the nymphs go through, I went back through the family album and found quite a few baby pictures. Picture 2 shows the very small nymphs from the first picture. Picture 3 shows an adult (left) and a larger nymph. Picture 4 shows an adult (in the dark region) and a very much advanced nymph. What a Mishpoche!

And now we're down to a couple of leafhoppers. Everyone is familiar by now with the red-and-blue Candy-striped version of the genus Graphocela. There is also another take on that one, but with green instead of blue. Well, yesterday I was snapping a picture of the red-and-blue version and DID NOT even notice that right next to this bug was the red-and-green version! Maybe they are the colors of two different sexes.

Let's see, what do we have in the way of Butterflies and Moths? Well, here is a Geometer (inchworm) Caterpillar on the newly-blooming Rose Malva, identified by @nlblock of iNat. Second is a hairy caterpillar that was sitting on an aster leaf. Then come a couple of Moths, unidentified so far.

Here are a side and dorsal view of yet another unknown Moth. And yet another mystery Moth. And another....

Now what you've been looking for - a butterfly! This one is the Banded Hairstreak. There were two of them flitting about each other - note that numbers 2 and 3 are different from number 1 since number 1 is torn.

One more neat critter before we start in on the flies.. This shy modest Earwig. Look at all that color! Speaking of color, look at this fly's eyes. What a green - I didn't edit a thing! Third is one of the Long-legged Flies. They tend to jump when they hear the click of the shutter, but this one landed in a good place anyway.

I showed you this electric-blue fly last week, but why not see it again? It's not the color blue that will keep you awake all night... The second and third pictures are of a long-legged fly but look what it's doing. It seems to be eating another tiny creature. Pretty is as pretty does, guy!

We still have midges. Do you remember back in the winter when one of the first things we saw were midges, gall midges, and fungus gnats? Now there is also a mosquito or two in the mix. This last picture is a female mosquito. Look at that bayonet!

One last mystery fly and Froggy! The second picture was taken before the Raccoons began trashing the pond plants in their search for fish. The other day, when I realized what was happening, I found two dead fish, a black one and a red one. I netted them out of the pond and brought out the fish food can. I sang the "Here, fishy, fishy, fishy" song while sprinkling the food on the water's surface but nobody came up to eat. Finally one fish did come up and started snapping at the food. As I watched, more and more fishes appeared - maybe a dozen - and began to eat. At least two red fish were among them. Yesterday one more colorless fish was floating. I sprinkled some more food and was finally rewarded by a few fishes who came up to get fed. Note: these pictures are from June 23rd and 29th respectively. I haven't seen Froggy since I spread out the chicken wire! But yesterday I HEARD him. He was so loud that I could hear him from the front yard. In fact, while I was taking pictures we were able to talk back and forth for at least a quarter-hour.

Last week we noticed this little nymph of a Scudderian Bush Katydid, nestled in a Rose Malva blossom. But yesterday I found a growing nymph, likely the same species, in the Redbud tree. Here are two shots.

Let's do some plants before the spiders come to get us. Here are the ripe Raspberries. We have had so many rain showers that the berries have become very juicy, almost to the point of diluting the sweetness. The Common Daylilies are bursting with color everywhere, especially along the shady edges of roads. They need no care other than resisting the urge to tear out a few patches. The tiny Deptford Pink blossom always startles me with its depth of pink.

Many years ago now, Sue Farley gave me a large red geranium plant. Against all expectations, it survived and has bloomed each year without any care from me except for an occasion drink of water. Some of you may have been wondering, how can the word "geranium" describe both this large showy plant and also the small tender geraniums like the Cranesbill and the Wild Geranium (pictures 2 and 3). Apparently the smaller ones here are really Geraniums, while the large showy ones like this red one are properly called Pelargonia. Aren't you glad to know that?

Here come the spiders. This first one is a new one for me. What a huge abdomen! The next two are kinds of Cellar Spiders.

Here is a female Common House Spider and one of her egg cases. Then a male, already turned red. These spiders are small but capable of trapping much larger prey. Here is one with an already large Harvestman.

The Grass Spiders will soon be the most common spiders in my yard. They make a sheet web from which they can dart out and nab their prey and drag it back into the nest. The second one is a very pretty mystery. The third spider was later seen to look more like a Cross Orbweaver, but I didn't have my camera at that moment.

These black and white Jumping Spiders don't always show their big eyes the way other ones do. The second picture is of another black and white Jumper. You can tell the difference by the shape of their abdomens. The little light brown one has a very long pointed abdomen.

Some more plant pictures. Here is a young spray of Oak leaves. I'm not sure which of the several species of Oak in the yard this is. Or which Maple the next image shows. But the most gorgeous thing on this Walnut sprout is a fuzzy pink Gall. It was probably made by a wasp or a midge laying her eggs in the bud.

Do you remember the ending of last week's blog? I promised to tell you what happened to all those Toad Tadpoles. It seemed that lately the number of tadpoles was dropping fast, and I was wondering if the fish were eating them up. Then one day I was walking along the periphery of the pond and saw small creatures hopping around. Upon getting closer, it turned out that YES - the little creatures were tiny toadlets! The third picture here shows an adult toad visiting the premises and joined by one of the little toadlets. Look how small the toadlet is next to an average-sized adult.

This week's favorite wasp turns out to be a member of the genus Cerceris, the weevil-eating wasps.

Since the pond is not very attractive right now, here's yet another color-morphing of an old picture of Water Lilies.

Please be well, everyone. I hope we will all have some lovely days and often! Take care,

Love, Martha

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copyright Martha O'Kennon 2019