December 27, 2020

Martha O'Kennon

We are now almost a week into winter. You can either think of the solstice as the shortest day of the year, or you can think of it as the day the days begin to get longer again. Anyway, today, at this very moment of my deciding to write this blog, the sun is shining resolutely. The pond would be completely frozen over were it not for the little floating heater, which is the first one I've had that has lasted past its sell-by date and heading into its fourth year of service. Now we start the contest - will I need to purchase a new one before spring?

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.

I just learned from Steven Wang of iNat that the Small Honey Ant is sometimes called the "Winter Ant", because of its persistence into the shortest coldest days, which hardly any other ants have. Would YOU run around out there with no down-filled coat? Admire this Ant.

When almost all the other Barklice have disappeared from sight, the F-winged Barklouse, Graphopsocus cruciatus is still out there. I can still see a half-dozen of them as I circle the shop.

There have been a few Barklouse visitors, but it's hard to say which ones they are. I believe that this first one is one of the species in genus Valenzuela. The Nymph in picture 2 may also be in that genus. Third looks like a deserted nymphal skin for some kind of Barklouse.

In addition to the above Barklice, there was this one mystery creature, which looks a bit like Metylophorus novaescotiae, but maybe it is dead and has stopped looking much like its prime. If anyone else is seeing something that looks like this Mystery, could you please let me know? Then we had our favorite winter visitor, the Dirt-colored Seed Bug, Drymus unus. And now, looking for a beetle, we saw this black beauty - but was told it must be a Gall Wasp or something close. We have had a lot of them, but I'll save all the rest for the end of the blog when I usually show off our Wasps.

We actually are still having the odd Leafhopper. Yesterday I snapped this picture of an Erasmoneura vulnerata next to the shop door. You know this is one of my favorites, with all those shades of pink, rose, brown and white. We also saw this one (picture 2) yesterday - it seems to have been hung out to wait for a spider to lunch on it. Third is that thing I've been calling a kind of egg. Well, today it was there with a very small insect-like creature that may have just emerged from it.

If you liked seeing all those interesting speculations, here are some more. This image seems to show a creature of some kind emerging from a fluffy insulated nest, doesn't it? And picture 2 seems to show two mystery creatures emerging from a straw nest. There may be some kind of spider or other predator that has just been waiting for this emergence.. What do you think? And finally, picture 3 seems to show Something also coming out of some straw nesting material. Maybe that one is still waiting for something to happen.

First up, what is this? It seems to have some tiny legs, so maybe, just maybe it might be a living walking creature! Second is something botanical, but it looks to some of us as if there might be two of them expressing their mutual affection. It's really two little seeds still attached to little wings that are about to waft them elsewhere to sprout. High up on the North wall is this little mass of Spider eggs. I seem to recall the type of Spider too. Yes, it is the type of egg mass that genus Euryopis creates.

Finally! Kimberlie Sasan of iNat was brave enough to hazard a name for this Psyllid that I see so often. It is Trioza albifrons, meaning "white face". I don't see the White Face, but I remember seeing this name bandied around in reference to one that looks just like this one! Hooray! Another iNat friend who has been very good about trying to teach me about Spiders is Matt Claghorn. I had submitted this second picture as a SPIDER, even though it has the floppy soft-looking legs of a Wolf Spider, and he suggested kindly that it is probably a juvenile and that's why the body doesn't look much like Wolfers I have known and loved.. Picture #3 was hiding in the dark down at the bottom of the Shop siding. Even to me, he also looks like a Thin-legged Wolf Spider, which was also Matt's pick. Thanks Matt! Thanks Kim!

I'll close up with the three Gall Wasps that I saw today. They may all be the same, but I think there is more than one species represented here. Enjoy - I hope you are really enjoying the process of figuring out which are the same and which are different from other Gall Wasps we have known and loved. Remember to check out Gall Wasps when you see something that looks like a nice fat Ant! First is the first one I saw today as I walked around the shop.

Well, to end on a brighter note, here are three morphings of the Dame's Rocket Phlox Lookalikes. Think of them as a present from me to you at whichever of the many Festivals of Light that are celebrated around now!

Well, what a couple of weeks since the last Blog went out. I had a procedure on the 9th in which the nerves of my lower back are "killed", that is, discombobulated using radio waves. The next week, I was feeling so good and made the mistake of saying so to the team who had done the procedure. The next day I couldn't walk -- my right knee was in some terrible kind of spasm - so I got around for a few days on a swivel chair. No stairs. I began to rethink my decision to stay in this house with all the stairs. The pain people sent a script for anti-inflammatories - no effect. Finally got an appt with the fellow who had done my most recent replacement of that knee. Maybe the steroids, maybe the relief of getting an appointment, who knows, I gradually got onto my walker and Chaim wheeled me into the building for my appt. The 11-year-old knee looked the same on the xray as it had then. Who knows? By the time I got home I was able to use the walker. I walked up the stairs. Iced. Got up. Walked downstairs. Walked outside to take some pictures. Who knows what evil lurks in the heart of knees? I don't. Thanks to people who responded to the request for chocolate. You understand me!

Love, Martha

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copyright Martha O'Kennon 2020