June 23, 2019

Martha O'Kennon

Happpy Summer Solstice! Do you believe it? June is STILL cooler and rainier than in most years. But maybe that rain is what made the first Water Lily open up. Even Froggy is on his lily pad. But there weren't so very many new flowers. The Bladder Campion has been lovely. And yesterday I noticed that the Prairie Dock was "blooming" with its odd collection of tiny bits of color. You know of course that there will be many many shots of the Goutweed because of its attraction for so many kinds of tiny creatures.

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.

Ants were all over the place. Several of them are winged as if they are embarking on a voyage of discovery [of a new home]. They are hard for the experts to identify because the wings cover so much of their anatomy.

The Eastern Black Carpenter Ant is probably familiar to you now - the one with the golden hairs on its butt, er, gaster. The next is one of the Carpenter and Sugar group. I always think it's funny that the ones most often identified as Carpenter Ants (and they are in the same family) are huge and so often to be found in the sugar bowl! Third here, sitting on top of a bunch of Common Day Lily buds, is probably one of the Wood, Mound, and Field Ants (genus Formica).

In our search for the nymphs of the Two-mark Treehopper, the one whose nymphs live on the sap of the Redbud, I've found it MUCH easier to first look for ants. Most of the ants we've found in the younger Redbud saplings are one or the other kind of Acrobat Ants. The kind we first discovered were mostly black (as in picture 1), but now we're finding more and more with black gasters, but some of the other segments red (picture 2). Now some larger ants are mixing in on the saplings. But in the last couple of days, I've finally found some eye-level places on the big old redbud with a large black ant (Eastern Black Carpenter?) and a number of treehopper nymphs!!!

The only Barklouse I've seen this week is Polypsocus corruptus (what a lovely name for a little Hairy-winged (genus) Barklouse). Pictures 2 and 3 show the little guy from the top.

There weren't quite so many bees this week. But here is a confab of Andrenas (Mining Bees) on the Goutweed. Yesterday this Bumbler seemed to be very tired and lay down for the camera. Is it a trick of the light or are its eyes detached from the rest of its face? Hmm. Not so badly in Picture 3. Oh my. I was taking a break and examining some of the observations of a colleague on iNat. Suddenly I saw she had a Bumble Bee like mine, but it was NOT a bee at all. The eyes don't look right because they are FLY eyes. This is a Bumble Bee Mimicking Robber Fly!

So while we wait for more bees, let's look at the Beetles of the Week. That (genus Phyllotreta) Flea Beetle with its pretty gold-pink curves on black has been very common all spring and this week was no exception. There are so MANY red flea beetles and other tiny red beetles that I'll just say Number 2 is a little red Flea Beetle. Third is a little "studded" black beetle. Fourth is the White-margined Burrowing Bug. In some of these photos, the bug shape of the rear end is obscured - the black makes the whole thing seem smooth like a beetle. But it really is the Bug!

This first little black beetle was almost too small to see. Second is a Redbud Bruchid, one of those tiny weevils that are so common around Redbuds. The third was taken on a Raspberry plant, and is (if memory serves) a Raspberry Vine Borer. Last time I saw one of these was on June 12, 2015.

Let's look at some Bugs. We had a few Leafhoppers: the first taken from quite a distance, but we can see it is a green leafhopper and darker than the usual greenish-blue ones. Second, a striped leafhopper in another shade, sort of olive-ish, of green. And today, the first Candy-striper of the year.

This first little bug has not been identified yet, but the next one surely has - it's the incredibly destructive adult of the red Mirid bug nymph. It's called the Four-striped Plant Bug. You've seen a few nymphs of the Two-mark Treehopper. Surprisingly, they come in many colors, especially when they are young. The third and fourth images show how brilliant and different the colors can be.

Amazingly, we have had two members of the group Orthoptera that contains the crickets, grasshoppers, and katydids. The first is a nymphal Two-spotted Tree Cricket. Picture 2 shows what the adult will look like. Pictures 3 and 4 show the nymph that was hiding in the Goutweed this week and an almost adult female Scudder's Bush Katydid from July 2015.

Crane Fly season is here for real. One that I don't recognize but two whose orange color calls up the Tiger Crane Flies. I'm thinking the last two may be, respectively, male and female of the same fly.

A Crane Fly with lovely bold spots. And that one that seems to have been block-printed.

Here are a couple of Mosquitoes. They seem to be a female and a male of their respective species (look at the fuzzy antennae of the second one). The third one looks so much like a Non-biting Midge from the lower end but like a mosquito at the upper end. It is likely to be a Southern House Mosquito, Culex quinquefasciatus. We will see. Good news, though. The one from last week (number 4) that I had tentatively labeled as belonging to the genus Aedes, the genus of many of the nastier mosquitoes when it comes to carrying deadly diseases, has been identified as an Asian Rock Pool Mosquito, Ochlerotatus japonicus. The genus is hence Ochlerotatus, not Aedes. So we don't have evidence that the uglier of the Aedes Mosquitoes has passed into Michigan. Your homework is to Google this assertion and tell us all what you find out about the line that divides the range of the Aedes from the region to the North.

I know you've seen some of the Picture-winged Flies in earlier weeks, but they are so impressive I thought you would like to see this week's worth. Same for the Rust Flies.

Speaking of lovely flies, the Long-legged ones also bring a lot of color to the world. Of course, they often react with a jump to the click of the camera or its flash and you get something like Number 3.

The little Hover Flies have been very active still. Especially Toxomerus marginatus, who supplies all kinds of views. Here are a couple of such views. Another one that I've not seen anywhere or anytime since October of 2014, when one appeared at the Nature Center, is the Common oblique Hover Fly, Allograpta obliqua.

You've already seen Froggy with the Water Lily, but why not? He is such a delight to see on a walk around the pond. I really need to visit the Fishes more often. Here are a few of them but there are of course many more down there under the flowers. Every day I try to shoot the Toad Tadpoles to see if any of them are beginning to put out little feet. That will be the first step in their progress toward Toaddom. Did I mention last week that I had ordered some Water Lettuce to put into the pond? There are at least two good reasons to add these non-hardy plants with the long feathery roots: (a) The roots trap algae and other particles that are making the water un-beautiful; (b) Now when the fishes lay their eggs, any baby fish will have a place to hide from the crowd (relatives included) eager to eat them. The instructions say not to add the new plants to the water if it is less than 65 F, since they are almost tropical. Well, they arrived late yesterday afternoon. The thermometer showed the water to be a safe temperature, so I finally decided to add the new plants. This morning when I looked out for survivors, it seems they weathered the temperature AND the raccoons had not shredded them either. Keep those fingers crossed!

There weren't very many kinds of Harvestmen around this week, but there was one that showed up a LOT. We had one little Brown Lacewing. And one little Millipede. I went by the clues given me by several colleagues at iNat: if there is one foot per segment, it's a Centipede, but if there are two feet coming out of each segment, it's a Millipede. It's not so easy to see, but I believe there are two little feet coming out of most of the segments. So this is a Millipede.

Here are a few pillbugs or woodlice. I like them better and better - the patterns on the shells are beautiful.

Did I say it had been rainy? We had a good collection of Slugs and Snails. I think most of the Snails were the same species. There were three or four of them, maybe one on each wall of the shop. The Slugs were mostly brown but various sizes.

More slugs. The third one joined the gang of Goutweed admirers.

It seems that it is time to show off the spiders. Here are the two Jumping Spiders I saw this week. First is our friend Naphrys pulex, the one with the two-tone fur coat. And then a new one: I only got this face-forward shot showing an angry-looking (or maybe a surprised-looking) black-and-white jumper. Now the last one: it is a brand-new spider to me. I felt when I looked at it that it might be a wolf spider, but then the posture suddenly looked like a jumper. It looks as if it might be a Tan Jumping Spider (Platycryptus undatus) even though most of those aren't tan...

I believe that this big Crab Spider is a left-over from last week. I still don't know which of the big four it is. I'll have to do MY homework on this one. Most of the other spiders from this week were either Cobweb Spiders (going by very round abdomens) or Sheetweb Spiders (based on elongated abdomens). Here are a couple of the Cobwebbers. The last Cobwebber is one of the Common House Spiders, here a male turning red.

Here are some of the hairy ones. Some are shaped like my conception of a Sheetwebber and some not, but all seem to be in a sheet web.

On the 21st, just before noon, I found the strangest-looking creature on the Goutweed. It was orange and had weird protuberances from its body. Another view showed a long body like a Stilt Bug. Long legs like a Harvestman. Just as I was about to call it a day, there was another one near the gate between the back yard and the front. This one hung with its underside facing the camera (picture 3). Two of these weird creatures. I didn't put 2 and 2 together until I was submitting it to iNat and the ID app suggested Tetragnatha. Now that's the genus of the Long-jawed Green Spider that shows up sometimes during the winter - how could I have forgotten that amazing spider?

Here are the Green versions. Look at those legs! Yes, that's our present visitor. I feel so lucky to have seen TWO of them.

I wish I could finish off this week with many pictures of splashy flowers or elephants or something else. But the splashy flowers have splashed their last until the goldenrod and asters wake up. Still there are a few little things, like this Snowberry, with tiny flowers, so I'll blow up this picture. There is a tiny bee inside the minuscule but lovely flower. The next picture is of a weed growing on the corner of the shop. Aha! The weed is called Common Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca). The detail in the tiny flower was an unexpected lagniappe.

I've been having a great time morphing the colors of some of my flower and bug pictures. This was a shot of the forget-me-nots when they were going strong.

So now Northern Hemisphere Summer is really here. If we can weather the heat and humidity and if our Southern Hemisphere friends can weather the cold, in six months we'll trade places! Meanwhile, everyone enjoy this week in our beautiful Earth and work to help keep its health on top of the agenda!

Love, Martha

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copyright Martha O'Kennon 2019