April 19, 2020

Martha O'Kennon

Well, Spring WAS drawing closer. The early part of this week was lovely and yielded quite a few pretty pictures of creatures on the Wall of Fame AND of lovely blossoms on Spring Flowers. But each day seemed cooler than the preceding, leading up to Friday's all-day snow. In fact this Saturday morning there was still a bit of light snow falling.

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.

After a winter of pure Small Honey Ants, like the one in picture 1, last week we registered an ant of Genus Camponotus, which contains the Carpenter Ants AND the Sugar Ants. Here it is in pictures 2 and 3.

This week we added to our 2020 spotted list this newer ant, which we have seen but not for a long time. Steven Wang and Peter Slingsby identified it as a Myrmicine Ant. We've had at least one of this genus, the Punctured Ant, before. (I knew I'd seen that dropped abdomen before!) That last picture was taken on August 25, 2019. Steve added that it seemed to be a Queen who had mated and dropped her wings and was ready to lay her eggs. If you look at picture 3, you'll notice a couple of what I thought were some kind of prongs - Steven says that those are the stubs where her wings were formerly attached to the body.

The Beetles were only out a few times in this shortish week. (I'm skipping the Carpet Beetle that likes my bedroom wall.) One was this tannish Weevil.

If you remember from last week, we had that tiny beetle with the very strange antennae. It was identified as one of the Puffball Beetles. To me, it looks like a cross between a Beetle and a Reindeer. Anyway, one afternoon I saw what looked like a Flea Beetle, very tiny little thing. When I went in to crop the pictures of it, I saw that it was once more the Puffball Beetle. So I ran (what counts as running at my age) down to see if it was still there. It wasn't. However, I kept walking along the wall and on the southeast corner found the culprit. It flew a couple of feet a couple of times and finally let me take over twently shots, so I had some choice in which ones to post today.

And so that was the end of our Beetle Tour. While I was relaxing by the pond, the fishes seemed more animated than usual. I did positive reinforcement with them by singing them the fishy fishy fishy song, and fed them - eventually the novitiates noticed that there was food in there. Now once they were fed, they seemed even friskier. Now last year, when the one big female (Fanny, the fantail) died, it seemed that a couple of what I had assumed were males became the object of the pre-nup dance. That is when the males begin to chase the females around and around the pond. The two that had begun to be the object of affection of the others were once more selected. Because of the cold snap there probably were no eggs laid. In fact, there isn't enough vegetation in the pond that baby fish can hide in so it's hardly likely there are any. But at least they're getting in some practice. In this picture, one of the supposed females is the big red, blue, white and black fish that hesitates about coming out from under her lily leaf. Now everyone cross your fingers for the future of this pond culture.

No bugs yet this week. I'm holding the door open till tonight! The Flies were, however, many and some of them were even quite pretty or even interesting-looking. This fungus gnat with its nice orange underglow is really a charmer.

Some Midges or other kind of Flies that look like Midges to me!

Those were of course the female Midges - Males are the Fancy Dans of the genre (I meant genre, not genera), what with their fluffy antennae and sometimes longer bodies too. These long skinny bodies are the mark of a Non-biting Midge.

At first I saw this critter as a moth. Gosh, this is Early for Moths, I thought. But then realized I'd been fooled by the oldest con in the world. The Moth Fly is a Fly that looks like a Moth.

Here are a few very small but VERY PRETTY flies. All a fly has to do to make me call it pretty is to have enormous complex eyes that show the godzillions of tiny simple eyes that comprise them. Or bright red eyes. Or just have some iridescence. The first one is a Black Fly, no, I'm not kidding. It isn't one of those tiny ones that bite you and the bite hurts and itches for a month after that. But it's called a Black Fly.

The Grape Hyacinths are blooming, at least the earlier batch. Another small group is this bi-colored variant with extraordinarily wide leaves. I still remember when my old friend Mary Ann Dimand remarked, "Oh, you have the Latifolium variant." I looked it up on iNat, and found that it is indeed Muscari Latifolium. In talking with a colleague on iNat, I learned that it is actually a European grape hyacinth, and then looking at its range map, discovered that it exists in New Jersey on the East Coast and in Washington State on the West Coast, and in Michigan! Mary Ann, do you remember this? I don't know how I acquired it. I just know that it has lived here since I have.

The "purple" Hellebore is the so-called Lenten Rose, Helleborus orientalis. It has spread its arms wide and has lots of rosy flowers. The pink Hyacinth is slowly becoming fully flowered. The third is a less-full Hyacinth and is about at its peak.

In the south side yard the old Japanese Quince (Japonica) is almost fully budded up and we'll see it flowering next week for sure! Second, a lily leaf now lies on top of the pond. In a month or two we'll see its flowers. The mayapples broke through the ground almost without my noticing.

We don't have a lot of violets, but here is a Blue Violet. Second is the Wild Geranium, which will be blooming in a week or so. Out front the tulips by the sidewalk are getting ready for their big show!

For some reason, I spotted two Sawflies this week. The first one was on a brick near the front porch. It is from the genus Dolerus. The second was sitting on the fading green metal deck glider. It is of the subfamily Blennocampinae and may be of the genus Monophadnoides. It's not often that I see two different sawflies within a week.

We are already at the Spiders. I had to decide whether to wait another week so that more bugs would collect themselves (picture that!) or to have this shortish blog. I felt aimless about just waiting and so here we are. At the Spiders. First, that big Crab Spider of genus Bassaniana - remember, it's the biggish Crab that has a heart-shaped head or carapace. It's not so easy to see from this angle, but the head is more heart-shaped than the other three big Genera of the big Crabs. Next is our beloved cobweb spider, the Common House Spider. Third is another Cobwebber.

This first one is in free-fall - startled by me, it is actually on the end of its rope. I can't tell what it is from this tummy-view. Second is one that I believe we just got identified very recently, oh yes, it is likely the Lyric Cobweaver, Yunohamella lyrica. Yes, this side-view looks a lot like it.

Here is a new Spider for this year. It is the Boreal Combfoot, Steatoda borealis. I took a photo of one of these last year and instead of this bright red that one was more black (picture 3). It is a member of the False Widow Spiders, False being the operant word, thank goodness!

Here is a possible Sheetweb Spider (picture 1). Pictures 2 and 3 are of one with a nice mottled color abdomen.

This is the Yellow Sac Spider that I found on my wall last week at 1 am.

This fuzzy fellow might be one of the Springtails. It was so very small that I barely noticed it.

We've now come to the end of the bugs for the week. I still have a few pretty little flower mixtures. Nature seems to know just how to drop a bit of pink here, a bit of blue there and tie it all together with a bunch of bright green!

The Periwinkles (or Myrtle as a lot of folks from around here say) started this week. Here is a sweet friendship between the Pulmonaria and a Hyacinth. I need one more picture! That does it.

Another week and so far I'm still here. I hope everyone is safe and well and helping to keep the virus from spreading to others. Thanks to all of you for making my life better in so many ways. I hope you all have a support group too. We are family!

Love, Martha

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copyright Martha O'Kennon 2020