November 24, 2019

Martha O'Kennon

Big Snow. For this time of year - November 14, 2019 - this was a surprisingly long snowy day. I think that when I took this picture it was already about 5 inches deep. Yes, those are the deck flower trays. This is the first time we've skipped a blog this fall - I'm sure we will be spacing things out as the winter scares more creatures indoors. Actually look for more spiders and fewer other things.

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.

Most of the ants we are still seeing are the Small Honey Ants. What a remarkable species. So small and yet so tough. But here was also a Smaller Yellow Ant (Lasius claviger). It's a LOT bigger than a Small Honey Ant.

Those tiny Aphids (Sitobion avenae) were still out there at the beginning of the week. I wonder what will happen with them! The two Barklice, Graphocephala cruciatus and Valenzuela flavidus, are still here every day. I haven't seen any of those V. flavidus nymphs for a while now.

Those beetles of genus Cryptophagus are still around, maybe even a few individuals. The last one here seems to have a big red parasite on its right front leg. I don't know why I resisted this conclusion all this time. I thought the big football-shaped addition was a strangely shaped leg segment.

Our beloved Bugs are deserting us too. But here is one of those Damsel Bugs we saw a while ago. And here is a Leafhopper of genus Balclutha. Kyle Kittelberger says it is almost impossible to get one of this genus down to species without dissection! Here is an accidental head shot of one. Can you believe that just a couple of weeks ago we had so many kinds of Leafhoppers! Oh wait! This little critter was at the edge of a picture of something else. I saved it just so you could see how very little some things are!

On to the Flies. We still have those tiny Bathroom Midges (I think). I hope all those fluffy scales help them stay warm out there. The next two look like Crane Flies.

I love the antennae on this Gall Midge. Then here is a possible Fungus Gnat, a Midge, and last an unknown Fly.

Here are two Harvestmen and a mystery creature.

The loopers are still out. They look so similar I can't usually tell one from the other. But the next two of these may be the larva of the Porcelain Grey (or Gray) moth. I've rarely seen a looper dangling from a silk strand like these two. They look so cleverly acrobatic to me. I think this last picture is the adult.

Here are a few mystery pictures. They may or may not have had some life associated with them. Now they are just pretty pictures.

Here is the poor pond last week. I'd put a leaf net over it and it had partly filled with leaves. Then it froze over so I reluctantly put in the floating heater. Here you see it with the heater sitting at an angle waiting for the water around it to melt so that it can lie horizontally in the water. I let the heater run for a few hours a day - I seemed to think that the leaves under it would catch on fire, wet as they were. Finally we had a few days above freezing. Yesterday Chaim helped me get the net full of leaves out and dump them onto the ground. I reattached the hose from the house, topped up the pond, and then detached the hose again. Here is the pond with the clean net replaced. You might spot a couple of fish below the surface just to the right of the heater. You CAN see in a reflection the Norway Maples with their brown leaves that so hate to fall with the others.

Here we are again, back to the spiders, the most faithful of winter friends. First, of course, the Common House Spider. Then the Cribellate Spider we saw before. It's the one that folds its arms and legs to make itself look quite a lot like a stick. Third, a spider in genus Grammonota, among the Sheetweb and Dwarf Weavers (Family Linyphiidae). We saw these often last winter. The last one I noted as Grammonota too - its coat seems furrier than the third, but their photos were taken within seconds of each other. Go figure!

First here is the Western Lynx Spider, identified by Matt Claghorn (@claggy in iNat). Just in case you wondered, the Lynx Spiders are right next to the Wolf Spiders in the Spider family tree. Second is one I don't usually see until spring - in fact I think of Mangora placida, the Tufted Orbweaver, as practically a sign of spring. But here it was, right on the shop siding, on November 16. (Actually, I spotted it in the same place last year in October!)

Now believe it or not - here is another Mimetus (Pirate Spider). It doesn't have the spooky white face like M. puritanus (picture 2). It isn't the same as the one we saw a few weeks ago, the one with a plain black face (picture 3). It COULD be M. notius.

First up here is a Long-jawed Orbweaver, probably of the genus Tetragnatha. This is the first time I've seen that exact marbled golden coloring. One that we sometimes see in the winter and no other times (except maybe early spring, which, let's be honest, is usually more like winter :-) is this Green Long-jawed Orbweaver. Another famous Long-jawed Orbweaver is the gorgeous Orchard Orbweaver, Leucauge venusta.

Usually I think of the springtails as early spring fare. But this week we had the good luck to see two kinds. IF I am seeing these right.

One little wasp. I don't know what it is, but here it is. A tiny little reminder of summer.

Jadesy and the two Turkey-Day Cacti are doing well indoors now. Jadesy has developed much more on one side in a growth spurt - I will probably be pinching off the overgrown end to repot or to share. Any takers? The so-called White Cactus was injured during its time outdoors, but has one gorgeous bloom. The Magenta Cactus is getting on to lovely. The huge floppy blossoms seem to come into their enormous own too quickly but when they are just below full they are stunning.

It may be another 2 weeks before enough creatures come to visit the shop siding or any other portrait venue. But we'll be keeping up our watch. Everyone have a lovely almost end of Autumn.

Love, Martha

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copyright Martha O'Kennon 2019