November 10, 2019

Martha O'Kennon

Yes, we had a few little spates of snow and some of it stuck around overnight. Still didn't need to scrape the windshield yet. My friend Eleanor in Potsdam, N.Y. said they had not had frost yet, and that is one of the really cold bits of the lower 48. Lucky us! Anyway, Jadesy stuck it out till October 31. The smaller pairs of leaves are opening up but I don't see any flower buds yet. I think that little red dot between two leaves is just for leaves. Oh well, there's always next year. Second is that Japonica still trying to make believe it's spring. Silly old bear. And third is a detail of a photo of that little Red Oak down the street.

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 are getting scarcer. This one might be a Small Honey Ant or maybe a Small Black Sugar Ant. Second shows a Small Honey Ant and a batch of Aphids in a grass tail. Third was ID'd as Sitobion avenae by @glmory in iNat, and so I'm extrapolating the middle picture to contain that same species of Aphids. It is not so easy to get an exact species name to one of your Aphids, so this was a lucky break.

While we're wandering around in that Grass tail, let's identify the Grass. Since I only got serious about looking at that part of the Grass, it was ID'd by @sambiology and @nathan20 to be among the Foxtails and Bristlegrasses (Genus Setaria). Picture 1 is of the ripe Seed of that plant. Well, the tail of that grass also contained Many Many little insects like the one in picture 2. I took picture after picture of bugs like that - tiny almost transparent ones - before @susanna_h suggested what should have been obvious - Couldn't they all be empty shells from many moults? Why yes, of course they are. There are, of course, more little mysteries, like the little red-brown creature in picture 3. Maybe that will come clear soon. Oh, and one more mystery, like the one just above the big seed in picture 4. I think it looks a lot like the aphids, but brown instead of green!

The barklice seem to be withdrawing to some warmer place. Here are Trichadenotecnum alexanderae, Graphocephala cruciatus, and Valenzuela flavidus.

This first Beetle was ID'd partially by @borisb as a Sap, Bark, Fungus, or Lady Beetle, superfamily Cucujoidea. And the second one as a Silken Fungus Beetle, Genus Cryptophagus. That the two are this closely related was NOT obvious to moi. Third actually IS an Asian Lady Beetle, while the fourth is a nice plain black Mystery Beetle.

Now that it's cold most of the time, the Bugs have practically disappeared, especially in comparison with all those Leafhoppers that have been so common so many days lately. The only Leafhopper even was this Agallia genus nymph. It looks as if it is padded enough not to mind the weather, but in the past few days, I haven't even seen one of these Froggy-looking nymphs. No Assassin Bugs either. Oh wait! This little Plant Bug lookalike was in the Grass Tail! Third is of course one of those unloved Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs.

Here we are in the Flies. I thought this first one was a Crane Fly but I don't recall ever seeing a Crane Fly with fluffy antennae. The second one I thought was a Midge but then put two question marks after it. It still could be a kind of Midge. The third reminds me of some of the Tephritinae - fruit flies with lovely lacy and spotty wings. Here (number 4) is one I saw back in August 2015.

Here is a Midge which seems to have some prey in its mouth. Second is a Non-biting Midge, while the third is one of those "Bathroom Moth Midges".

It's that time - the baby harvestmen are out now. I don't know why they suddenly start up again as it gets colder - or where they spend the winter!

Here are a couple more random creatures. Sorry to say that this Brown Lacewing was Spider Bait. It's still spectacularly pretty. But this Looper (AKA Inchworm) was happy to pose. There are still a few of these "Case Creatures", what others probably call by the attractive name "Bagworms".

We started talking about this last week. In the summer, we saw these "used" egg shells on the back side of a Bur Oak leaf. I've never known what the critter was that hatched from them. This past week on a Bur Oak sapling next to the steps up from the shop to the deck the little eggs are still unhatched. We'll follow them periodically to see if we can't notice when they hatch.

I'm afraid we don't have a chance. We're right at the beginning of the Spider pictures. Here is a Cellar Spider, genus Pholcus (two pictures).

Third is a fuzzy picture of a large Common House Spider. Then a Cobweb Spider that may be a baby CHS. And another.

We haven't seen the little Crab Spiders for quite a while. But here is the so-called Running Crab Spider (first two pictures). Third is a Grass Spider, a really big guy. (They start out so little and grow all summer!)

Last week we had several Jumping Spiders. This week only one of them reappeared - the Hentz Jumping Spider. This time it let us see its rear end but it didn't help in identifying its species. But it still shines its Headlight Eyes like an adorable baby bunny! Last is a Six-spotted Orbweaver. When Matt (@claggy) ID'd it, I almost did the forehead slap. I always think of these as being something belonging to the summer and green foliage! Thanks again to Matt for previewing the spider pictures for me!

Now for a few little Wasps. I submitted this tiny one as a Fly this week. The big eyes just seemed to scream "Fly!" But a couple of people on iNat rejected the "fly-ness" of the creature, and suggested "Encyrtid Wasp". This turns out to be a kind of Wasp that has tricked me before... Last year in July I saw this little fellow (picture 2) and submitted it as a possible "Bee". But someone changed that ID to "Encyrtid Wasp". I did some strolling through the photos in iNat and thought it might possibly be in the genus Microterys. I sent it in to Bugguide and Ross Hill agreed. So this week's collection are all ID'd to be Microterys. Look how different pictures 1 and 3 seem, but they are both Microterys.

I do have a few more flower pictures. As soon as I brought in my two Thanksgiving Cacti, they began to push out lots of buds. This first image is of one nearly opened flower in my Pink TG Cactus, and second is of the one bud on my White TG clipping. Third is Jadesy, showing how it has grown in the three years since I pinched it off as a cutting.

I'll leave you with yet another shot of the Euonymus next to the front porch steps. This is probably the peak of the color season for it! Sorry to say, the mess inside in the living room is still about as bad as last week. The dust from the ceiling restoration is just awful. So don't come touring this week either! Soon a cleaning crew will be coming in for a few days' worth of work. It may be the neatest the house has been for years. So cross your fingers! By the way, the little white fuzz-balls are the seed heads from Aster flowers. If you want a start on some Asters of your own, just email me!

Wait, wait, instead of a sappily happy ending to this blog, consider going to Youtube for this charming video forwarded by Richard Grzeskowiak:

Praying Mantis Wedding

Love, Martha

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copyright Martha O'Kennon 2019