August 2, 2020

Martha O'Kennon

Last week was a bumpy ride, but the past couple of days were less humid and hot. Still this is probably the day that the average high decides to start going down.

As you can see, the Goldenrod is trying to bloom. Here is the closest to BLOOM that I've seen so far this summer. But once it starts blooming for real, the whole world changes out there. The Autumn Phlox is doing its best to bring the season along.. And this is the last Celandine Poppy flower I've seen for some time....

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.

My beautiful Ant family! Just when I think I've seem all the Ants that live in this yard, I'm always surprised to find just one more. The new Ant of the Week is Lasius americanus (pictures 1 and 2). Third is the Small Honey Ant, which I must have been seeing many times when the Ant I was really seeing was L. americanus. Look, for instance, at the shape of the heads of these two kinds of Ant.

This is the Odorous House Ant, which I've never smelled but I hear has a nice-ish smell. Second is probably a Punctured Ant. And third is the Eastern Black Carpenter Ant.

I've been waiting for Aphids to come back. You may remember the little colony that was replaced by Aphid mummies. Here is a little website starting with that colony and segueing into a discussion of an Ant that I think was hoping to "nanny" some of the Aphids. Nature is interesting, to say the least.

On Saturday I did find a Goldenrod stalk with TWO kinds of Aphids: a lot of Green ones, and a couple of Red ones. It will be interesting to watch what happens to that stalk.

The Barklice are busily hatching out the nymphs for the next couple of months' watching. Since the little nymphs that resembled sort of a cross between the Graphopsocus cruciatus and Polypsocus corruptus species were taken out by the Empicoris errabundus last week, all the nymphs that I've seen since then have resembled G. cruciatus. Here is one of those G. cruciatus nymphs that looks different with its yellow body and bright red spots and even a reddish headband. (I saw one in May that looked just like this one.) But then on July 28 I did find one that looks distinctively like P. corruptus.

The adults were pretty scarce this past week. But we did continue to see P. corruptus, G. cruciatus, and Echmptyrex hageni.

I found a bee once in a while. I think that they were all the same species though. Here is one in a Zinnia. And then it seems to be reincarnated in one of the Fleabanes. If you remember that these little daisy-like flowers are only about a centimeter across, you'll get an idea of how very small the bees are.

The Beetles seemed to be less common than usual. Here are the only ones I saw this week. First up, one of the Tumbling Flower Beetles. The second one resembled the Striped Cucumber Beetle, but its stripes were less "perfect" than those of one of the real Striped Cucumber Beetle (picture 4, from July 21).

One Lightning Beetle. And a Flea Beetle, Phyllotreta zimmermanni. And two Weevils. One, of course, was the omnipresent Redbud Bruchid, and the other was one I saw last year, namely Lechriops oculatus.

Let's go see the Bugs. Yes, there were lots of little baby Assassin Bugs, Zelus luridus. Here are two. And I got one Damsel Bug, but look underneath that leaf. There is another creature, probably hiding out from the Damsel. (Or it could be a spider sneaking up on it.)

The Hoppers are up next, and since we usually start with Leafhoppers, here is an Aphrodes genus Leafhopper. Second is one that I saw the same day and thought it was an upside-down Aphrodes, but now I'm not so sure. While we're looking at oddities, here's what looks like a nymphal skin from one of the Leafhoppers.

Here are some basic Leafhoppers and nymphs. First looks to me like the nymph of a leafhopper of the genus Graphocela (picture 2). Next is one which may be of the genus Empoasca.

The long diamond-shaped nymph is a young Japanese Maple Leafhopper, however little it looks like it. The actual Japanese Maple Leafhopper adult is the green and blue jewel of pictures 2 and 3.

The Meadow Spittlebug is one of the most common bugs lately. Here are two of the disguises they wear. Third was a big surprise to me when I saw it. I'd just been thinking about the Alder Spittlebugs, which I used to see often in the Redbud tree. Well, the other day, I took picture 3 of a real live Alder Spittlebug.

First here is that same Alder Spittlebug - note the large drop of fluid just below its butt on the plant stem. It and the last picture in the preceding paragraph were both found on the Goldenrod in the Back Yard. But the next two pictures were both taken in the Front Side Yard. Since the ones from the Front side yard are browner and the ones from the Back Yard are blacker, I believe the latter is a male and the former a female.

All right, we've done our share of Leafhoppers. I didn't see a single Planthopper this week, even a nymph for the Two-striped Planthopper which was so frequently seen the week before. I wonder where those adults are hiding.

Flash: Yesterday Deb Seely next door sent me this photo. I believe this IS the Two-striped Planthopper, Acanalonia bivittata. Second, just to remind you what the last nymph looked like.

Flash: I got a better look at the pictures from Deb's yard. I now believe that even though I've been labeling the nymphs as A. bivittata, this adult is really A. conica, the green cone-faced Planthopper, since it doesn't have two stripes or even one down its back. Third is the picture I took this afternoon. If it were A. bivittata, it would have a stripe on either side of its back ridge, running from the head to the first bend.

Let's visit the Thistle in the Front Yard, even though the nymphs have eaten the thistle leaves to a crisp.. Here are some scenes from the falling House of Usher.

First is one of the adults from the beginning of the story with one of her younger nymph children. Second shows another adult and an older nymph, who seems to be developing one of the squarish keels toward its front end. Number 3 is another older nymph with a nice square keel coming along.

All the Thistle flowers have now bloomed on this plant and one is already covered with white floaters which are about to fly away, or HAVE flown away. Next shows one caught in another plant. I only shot one Two Mark Treehopper this week (picture 3).

On to other Bugs. Here is one of those Dustywings Bugs. Remember they look a bit like planthoppers , but they aren't! Third here is a Stilt Bug.

Here's one that I had no idea about until @thebals of iNat ID'ed it as belonging to the genus Harmostes. It looks as if it has a little fairy-wing next to its neck. And looks like a Stink Bug down the back. I hardly ever see one of this genus - last time was in September, 2018. Another mystery from about 1 minute later is a little Plant Bug (I think) but since it's a nymph probably no one will have a guess for what it is (or will be). This much of it is intriguing though.

Here is a familiar Damselfly - a Slender Spreadwing - alighting right beside where I have been shooting other things! Almost as if it wants to see the images too. Then just past the Damselfly, a European Earwig. Doesn't the name European make it seem ritzier somehow? I think they are lovely these days. Of course these days I don't hang the wash outside and, folding it, find an earwig or two and shake the sheet to get rid of a horrible thing! Here. Look into my bathtub - Do you remember the terrible picture I showed you last week of the shredded liner of the pond - which allowed water to drain out of the pond? I went out a few days ago to try to save some of the fishes - I managed to net Chica the Big Mother Fish; Bunky the multicolored Shubunkin; one of the red and white Goldfish, one of the small black adolescents; and one of the number of small baby fish, children of Chica and/or Bunky, or another of the many male fishes. This tiny baby fish actually has some red on its back. They've done very well in the tub. I brought them up in a mess of pond water so that they would feel at home. Several tadpoles, including a couple of near-toadlets, the ones that would have loved to walk out of the pond but couldn't while the shallow end was so low. Now that the shallow end has been patched (Thanks Don!) the water is staying in better. The toadlets are escaping. Soon I'll put these fishes back into the pond. Then there is something else in store for it.

Let's visit the Flies. We start out with one that flew into the Blue Spruce bonsai Friday night.. It has been ever so long since I last saw on of these Tiger Bee Flies, one of the most regal of the Flies. It is a Bee Fly because it mimics a Big Bee. And it's called a Tiger Bee Fly because of the gorgeous cutwork pattern in its wings.

I THINK this is a Blue Bottle Fly. The second one I'm sure (It was ID'ed positively) is a Green Bottle. The third is a Long-legged Fly (that silly name).

First here is another kind of Long-legged Fly. The hard part about photographing them is that they seem to hear the shutter move and hence are able to fly out of the picture! So you only get maybe one-tenth of the shots you try. But it's worth it. The second one here is so small - only a couple of millimeters across - but how lovely. Third is another kind of iridescent fly.

The mosquitoes have been very much varied this summer. Here is an Anopheles mosquito, Anopheles quadrimaculatus. Apparently all the Anopheles species are capable of carrying malaria and some other viruses. The next one is the Asian Bush Mosquito, Aedes japonicus - formerly known as the Asian Rock Pool Mosquito, Ochlerotatus japonicus. I was always confused because I had gotten the idea into my head that Mosquitoes with those black and white leg patterns were supposed to be Aedes, and now they are! Liam Wolff of iNat has been a great source of information on Mosquitoes. The last Mosquito of the week was actually from a very old photo from 2016 of a Mosquito that I thought was Psorophora ferox but hadn't got ID'ed has now been identified. What a beautiful Mosquito, with all those colors including green eyes!

Here is an assortment of Flies. First is a Moth Fly; then either a Fly or a Moth; Then a Smoky-winged Woodlouse Fly, a Woodlouse being code for a Pillbug. And last, a pretty non-biting Midge.

This first one is probably a Dark-winged Fungus Gnat. The next may be a Root-Maggot Fly (I always associate those yellowish wings with those Flies; And another House-fly shaped Fly. Finally, a Fruit Fly relative.

My beloved Froggy! I was worried about him while the pond was deliberately lowered to get the shallow end patched. But today, after refilling last night, there he was. Actually these two pictures were taken before the surgery on the Pond. Next are some of the Fishes that are back in business now.

Now we can go back and pick up the Crickets. This week I only saw the young member of the Family Hapithinae (common Crickets). But the good news is there were two kinds of Grasshoppers. First is a mystery to me, but the second is that Short-winged Green Grasshopper.

How about some Harvestmen?

And how about a bunch of Moths? First up, an adult Gypsy Moth; then a very tiny Three-spotted Concealer, a real Moth only a bit larger than a Moth Fly; then Norway Maple Pygmy, a VERY TINY little Moth - I wonder if I have so many of them since the Back Yard is full of Norway Maples??? Last, a Tufted Apple Bud Moth.

I need a walk in the flowers. There aren't a lot of them and the ones that exist are sort of sparse, but they make cool little vignettes. Aha, so THERE is the Deptford Pink. Some kind soul had mowed the grass and now the tiny flowers are blooming one at a time about 2 inches from the ground! Second shows a tiny bee in the center of a yellow Zinnia. Third is probably Annual Fleabane, but who cares - the flowers are so pretty.

The Autumn Phlox is already here! Actually this is when it started last year too. Second was identified on iNat as the lovely seed of "probably" an Oxalis. Although I didn't take a picture, we are a happy home for the Slender Yellow Oxalis (lemon grass as my mother called it). The Spiderwort is STILL going, and here is a whole TWO flowers blooming at the same time! Fourth, another sign of oncoming Autumn.The Arum Lilies (apparently not native to Michigan) make these lovely seed stalks, as will the Jack-in-the-Pulpit pretty soon.

Finally, the Pieces of Resistance. The Spiders were a bit less evident this week, but we always have the Common House Spider and these other two Cobweb Spiders.

Hungry little devils? Here is a Cobweb Spider which formerly was sitting among a group of Barklouse nymphs. Second and Third also picture Cobwebbers who don't have to send out for supper.

Oh my. This Spider has corralled a very young Assassin Bug (Zelus luridus). Second, the Grass Spider builds a sheetweb nest with a special runway through which it can run out and catch a meal. Third is a tiny pinkish Spider in the top of a Tall Evening Primrose.

This lovely iridescent Chalcidoid Wasp did some time on the Wall of Fame. Then we had this Ichneumonid Wasp in the weeds. And finally this tiny tiny wasp, also on the East Wall.

Our Spooky is not a particularly well cat. Her kidneys are working somewhat right now, but her appetite is way down. So we feed her our Sliced Turkey, Tuna Fish, and Orange Chicken, after her diatetic food has had a dent made in it. But one thing that is helping a lot is to let her out the back door. I've resisted this for so long but she is now of little danger to birds and squirrels. She goes out and when it is time for me to go in she goes in with me. But while she's out there she is capable of really enjoying a roll in the Myrtle.

Here was the pond before we laid out the chickenwire to keep the Raccoons out and prevent further damage to the liner.

How are you all doing? I seem to have plenty to do here, as long as my bugs come on schedule. The Goldenrod is beginning to begin to bloom, and blooming Goldenrod means Ambush Bugs, all sorts of Wasps, and many other beautiful creatures. So I expect to be even busier then if possible! I hope you all have something to do that you love to do and somewhere to do it. It makes me feel good to think of my old friends, and that means you! Please take care and keep in touch.

Love, Martha

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