June 30, 2019

Martha O'Kennon

Erase what I said about June's being cool. Three days before the end of June, Summer remembered to come. It is so hot and humid that I can only go out for short times to take a few pictures. But I hear that Europe has it very much worse. Don't get me going about global warming or global climate destabilization. I will just keep recording what I see in this small yard and maybe next year it will be clearer what's different in the sense of creature inhabitants. But I did remember to take some flower pictures. First is the Day Flower, properly the Asiatic Day Flower. My daughter was surprised after living in China for a year that we have them here too! A relative of the Spiderworts, which have threefold symmetry, it has only two petals. Second is a purple Spiderwort, an interesting creature on its own. It blooms all morning and then at noon its petals begin to dissolve into liquid. We only have it for a few weeks, and then wonder where it went. This week the Rose Malva, introduced to me by my old friend Hamsa Mukundan, began to bloom.

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.

The ubiquitous Ant! I haven't mentioned the Small Honey Ants for some time, but they are still all over. They are one of the tiniest ants in this yard, and don't forget they were the ones with the fascinating big red queens setting off to seek their fortunes somewhere. Second and third seem to be of the same species, but that last one seems to have had some kind of accident

Here's one of the black ants with the red thorax. The SHAPE of the thorax tells me it is one of the Carpenters. I like the symmetry of the red mark. Second is a Myrmicine Ant on goutweed. Who knows what this third ant is? Or even who did it in? Maybe it died of boredom.

But I have to admit that my interest in ants lately has been on their habit of tending the nymphs of other creatures. In this case, I've been watching the nymphs of the Two-mark Treehopper (the "Thorn Bug") in the Redbud tree and saplings. It turns out that looking for the tiny nymphs, which are so hard to distinguish with fairly decent eyes from the Redbud substrate, reverts to looking for ants! We've seen photos of little Acrobat Ants on Redbud saplings, which photos give up upon cropping and editing clear pictures of the sought-for nymphs.Picture 1 shows an Eastern Black Carpenter Ant on a sapling, with one nymph. Back on the home Redbud, the Nanny Ants tend to be larger, like Black Carpenters (picture 2). Pictures 3 and 4 show the backside of a Thistle leaf, where we find the little family portrait of a large Ant, a couple (not necessarily two sexes) of adult Keeled Treehoppers (Entylia carinata), a huge pile of just-hatched eggs, and a large number of tiny nymphs, most likely the hatchees from those eggs. The adult shows up better in one photo, but the nymphs are clearer in the other.

Picture 1 shows the one Barklouse we have been seeing for some time, that is, Polypsocus corruptus, a Hairy-Winged Barklouse. One of my friends thinks "You hairy-winged barklouse!" would be a great epithet. But this week introduced a few other Barklice. One is the nymph of Metylophorus novaescotiae, the first barklouse I ever knowingly saw. Pictures 3 and 4 may be the same creature, but the light may have changed the color from dark to light red. We'll see.

That plant on the southwest corner of the shop is now gone. But before I decided I didn't need another take-charge groundcover, it seemed to attract several kinds of bees. First, a Bumble Bee of some kind loved having that fast-food restaurant just around the corner on a Common Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca) plant. Why DO they always call the most intriguing plants or creatures "Common"? Next, a real Honey Bee (Western) followed the lead of the Bumbler. And finally, a mystery bee on the Snowberry in the thickest part of the Southeastern corner of the yard. I pulled out that picture last week when I was desperate for some flower pictures!

What is this beadwork of a beetle? It's one I haven't seen in a few years - a Basswood Leaf Miner. In other words, its larvae mine Basswood leaves from the inside. And what could this gorgeous little red and black beetle be? It is the most hated creature in my garden. Yesterday and the day before I pinched at least 20 of them (each day) as they were chomping on the delectable leaves of my Tiger Lilies. I plan to devote a few minutes a day pinching off as many as I can see. Third is one we discovered a couple of weeks ago - it's the Brown Leaf Weevil.

This black weevil was hiding behind a Chest of Drawers in my room the other day, but went away (Where? I don't know!) soon after I took this picture. Meanwhile, this (picture 2) studded black beetle has been around for a few days this year, but I don't have an ID for it yet. And here's probably the most common beetle in the yard - the Redbud Bruchid. How lovely it appears up really close, with so many stripes of different colors. But Number 4 here shows another weevil that looks so much like the striped wonder, but is very dark. I don't know if it is a separate species or just another dark individual.

On to the Bugs... The leafhoppers were very small but we got a few shots. Here are a yellow one, a green one, and a white one. Note: their wings seem very tiny so these are probably nymphs.

Here is a multicolored one that was in no mood to sit for its portrait. We will keep looking for that one as it grows! But more surprising perhaps is this tiny one that I thought was a minuscule ant until I was cropping its photo. It looks very much like a very young Jikradia olitoria. But don't be fooled - it is actually the nymph of the Japanese Leafhopper (not the Japanese Maple Leafhopper, though).

Here in the Redbud is a Plant Bug of genus Taedia, first time I've seen it. Second is Taedia scrupea, which I saw on June 15, 2020, but in Goldenrod. So the present one only MAY be T. scrupea also. Next, the White-margined Burrowing Bug in the Goutweed (I think - it may be that one that I always mistake for thhe White-margined one - if those legs are black, it IS and that would be something in genus Corimelaena.)

Kathleen Seidl discovered that Cabbage White Butterflies love the Catmint. Is this next one a beetle grub or a butterfly/moth caterpillar? No matter, it is securely fixed in a spider's web. The third caterpillar is actually the larva of a Gypsy Moth. I still wonder if these moths' caterpillars are so beautiful so that humans won't destroy them on sight.

The one damselfly of the week - and only the second one of the season. It's the female of the Ebony Jewelwing. Since we haven't got any others in the order, here is a creature that made me look twice or more. I now believe it really is only a fluffy bird feather, but still a pretty one.

In case you missed it last week, here is that Bumble-bee mimic Robber Fly of genus Laphria - It might be L. thoracica or L. flavicollis. It fooled me again too. One way to tell it isn't a real Bumble Bee, I've never seen one that lit on a leaf, not a flower, and sat quietly as the camera came out. The other method: look at those big eyes. Here, for Roger: a pair of Condylostylus genus flies showing their affection for each other. Fourth is a black Fungus Gnat.

You've seen many Crane Flies, including this reddish one. Second is a Tiger Crane Fly, and third that fascinating little one with the block-print design.

It was also a good week for Fruit Flies. Here are three: one with no spots on the wings; one with slight spots; and one with easy-to-see spots.

This first biggly fly is a Golden Dung Fly. Next are two shots of one with lovely green wings and a habit of leaping in response to a camera click.

Before the goutweed finishes blooming, let's enjoy the tiny Hover Flies Toxomerus geminatus and T. marginatus. Third looks to me as if it must be related to these Hover Flies, but I need to post it on iNat for ID.

Flies are mostly very small, but that doesn't mean they are plain. Indeed, some of the flashiest color comes from their tiny almost metallic bodies. The last one was sitting so securely that it didn't jump up at the flash of the camera!

These first two flies hold their wings out so that their overall shape seems triangular. Believe it or not, they are both Quadrate Snipe Flies. But the first is a female and the second a male. Look at those huge gorgeous red eyes on the male! The third is no relative of theirs, but was a very tiny fly with an inquisitive look on its face.

Froggy continues to be quite chatty, usually having the first word and then answering if I respond. Sometimes it takes me a long time to spot him even though his voice is so clear. He has grown a lot in the past few months. I suppose some day he will go off like Dick Whittington to seek his fortune, er, mate. In the third image, here is Froggy and a new pink Water Lily. This shot also shows the Water Lettuce, which has survived the heat of the sun and is sloughing the bleached bits. I think that winning smile is the only facial expression he has, but that could be why the Frog is always seen as a benevolent character in Children's Literature.

Here are some Harvestmen, who seem to be passing the line between babies and near adults.

This Rose Malva flower is home to a Scudderian Bush Katydid nymph. The second I first thought was a Lacewing from so dorsal an angle that we miss the lovely net-like wings, but wait! I've never seen a lacewing with prongs on its leg joints. So maybe it's a kind of moth. And last, a mysterious rolled-up something that might just be a rolled dry leaf.

Here are some herbal images. First and second, the head of a plantain. Note in the second that it contains several small Hover Flies. Third are some Wild Grapelets. There is something that eats them up every one every year, but here - they exist now. Fourth are the berries of the False Solomon's Seal. They will turn bright red later.

Here are some snail photos from some of the liquid mornings after a good rainy night. One and Two are the same beautiful little snail. Three is an orange slug, and Four is a tiny greenish slug swimming in a long puddle.

Matt Claghorn kindly helped me out with some of these spiders. I want to put the ones that I was clueless about up first. Matt says the first one is probably in the family Agelenidae, due to its large spinnerets. And here I didn't even notice it HAD spinnerets. They're the two little prongs at the end of the abdomen, and that is where silk is extruded. The small one in second place is likely a Cobweb spider, maybe in genus Theridion. I thought it was very aesthetic, especially hiding in all that greenery. The third one seems to be a Cellar Spider.

Here are a few more Cobweb Spiders. The second one is probably Theridion. Fourth is a Common House Spider, with its uncommon red color (showing it is a male).

This actually very small spider is a crab of some sort. The second one is a crab of another stripe, a Running Crab Spider. I'm going by the smallish and narrowish abdomen. The Third one is probably a Cellar Spider. I don't have a clue who this little last one with the black-spotted red abdomen is.

Finally we come to some old friends. Here is the so-called Flea Jumping Spider, Naphrys pulex. Second is a facial view so you can see its big headlight eyes. Third is our Orchard Orbweaver, Leucauge venusta, clinging to the underside of a Wild Grape leaf. And last but not least, one of my pets, the Pirate Spider, Mimetus genus, and probably Mimetus puritanus.

Here is our Orchard Orbweaver, Leucauge venusta, clinging to the underside of a Wild Grape leaf. We have been keeping an eye on this spider (well, one like it anyway) for so long! And last but not least (two shots), one of my pets, the Pirate Spider, Mimetus genus, and probably Mimetus puritanus.

One new wasp visited the goutweed this week. The ID app on iNat thinks it is from the genus Symmorphus.

I do have a few pretty flower pictures for you this week. The annuals I got at Jolly Green Junction are finally finding their feet. Here are a couple of the Snapdragons. Do I have to tell you which is red and which is white? Third is that wonderful Spiderwort, wonderful not just because it's named after a spider, but for that rich purple hue and for the fact that it survives the other vegetation in the yard!

Here's another color-morphing of an old picture of Water Lilies.

Oh! You may have been asking yourselves, where is the photo of the toad tadpoles which seems to be de rigueur around here? Well, I hate to break it to you, but the tadpoles have been slowly disappearing. Next week I'll have a surprise for you. Now you know the secret. But just wait!

Keep well, everyone. Stay in out of that heat and/or cold. The earth keeps turning on and on as it circles the sun, and gradually things will reverse. Let's hope the climate activists can talk some sense into the polluters, and that we can slowly heal this earth. Take care of yourselves and those around you. LOVE!

Real Love, Martha

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copyright Martha O'Kennon 2019