April 5, 2020

Martha O'Kennon

As the "Easy-spread" crocuses are fading, the squills are coming into their glory, and the white crocuses are magnificent.

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.

Well, can you believe this? The temperature was 63 F yesterday and close to that the day before. So we have had two whole days in which Spring came and brought with it all sorts of tiny creatures. I have had a good lot of cropping to do! Up till then, I thought we might not have a blog this weekend, but Spring shone through. I needed that! Thank you, Spring! Here is that lovely Striped Crocus. Next, something else you might not have ever seen before. My neighbor Debora Seely took this picture of a crocus which has just cut a perfectly circular hole in a leaf to get out of there. Third, the Hellebore buds continue to open. These flowers are so heavy they can barely lift their heads so we could see inside.

Last week I told you that a second kind of ant, in the genus Camponotus of the Carpenter family, had shown up. I saw one, maybe the same one or maybe a new one, just this morning. First, the big new Camponotus Ant from last week; then the usual Small Honey Ant; and last, one that I thought was a Small Honey Ant until I cropped it. It WAS a little smaller even than the Small Honey, but here's what I think. The Small Honey Ant has a head, yes, then two roundish balls, then a very large abdomen (gaster). The new one's gaster isn't very much bigger than its head. It has one roundish ball, and then where I was looking for the second ball, it seems not to have any ball at all. Anyone have any ideas? Of course, it's a lousy picture but it smells fishy (ants smell sour, you know, because of the formic acid they get their French names for). Hey, I just submitted it to iNat, and their ID app says it's a Little Black Ant (Monomorium minimum). But @peterslingsby and @clurarit say its an Acrobat Ant. If this had been a top view I would have recognized it by a heart-shaped gaster. What a mess!

I didn't concentrate on the bees, but when the sun would suddenly take it into its head to shine, Honey Bees would still appear out of nowhere. But we had something wonderful. You know how fascinated I am with the Barklice that sometimes wander into sight on the Wall of Fame. I was taking pictures of a certain leafhopper, a very small one only a couple of millimeters long. But when I checked the picture, there was a surprise- a yellow thing that I think may be a Barklouse nymph. We'll keep an eye out for this thing and hope to see it again as it grows.

We were lucky enough to get a few kinds of Beetles, none in the grasp of a spider this time. First, here is what looks like a tiny Scarab Beetle. To give you an idea of the size, that's my thumb nail it's sitting on.

Of course, that Red Beetle was here. And the Rove Beetle that's been here a lot lately. But yesterday appeared this Rove Beetle, a bright shining coppery one appeared (last two pictures). Trouble is, this is not a Rover. It's a member of the Sap-feeding Beetle Family (Nitidulidae). This is the first time I learned that other beetles may have shortened elytra (hard-shell wings).

Another (or maybe the same) cute little Weevil was out yesterday.

That little tiny Four-spurred Assassin Bug (Zelus tetracanthus) is still here. I finally was able to see that its eyes are grey or brown, not red like Z. luridus, the Pale Green Assassin Bug. See, luridus is green, not lurid. We really can take an ordinary word from Latin and spookify it.

The Leafhoppers were out too. First, here is that hard-to-pin-down leafhopper of genus Balclutha. Then one of the genus Erythridula, which used to be Arboridia. But the big surprise was this next one, also of genus Erythridula. I was slowly circling the shop and saw what looked like a leafhopper flying away from me. I lost track of it until I rounded the southeast corner and there was a skinny thing that looked a bit like a piece of thread, it was so small (maybe about 1/8th of an inch long. I got as many pictures as I could of it. It was ID'ed by Kyle Kittelberger as Erythridula abolla.

More of Erythridula abolla: In this first image, imagine cropping a simple leafhopper picture, and then imagine seeing something that got caught in the net by the camera. The little thing is the Barklouse nymph shown up above. I THINK it's a Barklouse. Then remember I told you this leafhopper was only about 3 millimeters long. So how big is the Barklouse? Picture 2 shows something that might not be there. Doesn't it look as if the hopper's neck got caught in the wringer so that the shield was stretched out like a fancy fan or something like that. One more last picture so you can see the stripes on the wing. This barklouse has only been seen in North Carolina and Pennsylvania in iNat or BG. If you want to see how it has been documented by Kyle and John Rosenfeld. What a contribution to the world of Leafhoppers.

This Bug is a member of the Minute Pirate Bugs, Family Anthocoridae. It is actually very small, but very colorful! It was identified by Wongun Kim of iNat.

This stink bug is actually a Spined Soldier Bug (Podisus maculiventris), but I thought, "Oh rats, a BMSB!" But the antennae gave it away. Compare the white pattern on the last picture, a BMSB. When I was looking for an old picture of one, I found another Spined Soldier Bug that I'd called wrong! In the Spined Soldier, the "shoulders" are quite sharp. Those must be the spines!

Just a couple of shots of the fishes so far. In both of these you can see the Water Lilies plants starting to push up leaves, getting ready for a new season of flowers and colors.

Here are three different Fungus Gnats. (I'm pretty sure).

This first one is a mystery - I could honestly say it is a Long-legged Fly, because it is. But what kind? The next one (two images) is another mystery, maybe a kind of Midge.

Oh my. I did say Spring had arrived. But I didn't mention that yesterday (April 3) was really all Summer in a day. It has been quite a while since I got a mosquito bite. Apparently this is another Anopheles Mosquito, the ones that carry Malaria. The last two are mystery flies.

This little Brown Lacewing is giving us a quizzical look. While this Looper seems to be having a conversation with itself.

This is the first Pillbug I've seen since last year! And two more signs of Spring: First, this is a Raspberry cane with minuscule new buds. Soon the new growth will bud and then flower and then yummmmm Black-cap Raspberries! The next is a twig of Redbud which is also budding. Soon (about June) I'll be seeing my beloved treehopper nymphs and their nursemaid ants. Oh yes, the tree will also flower!

The Squills (Scylla) are blooming under the big Maple out front. What a wonderful blue! Here is a little bunch of Crocus. I'm thinking next week we might have fewer and fewer Crocus but maybe some of the Hyacinths and Tulips will be coming out. Last is the Bull Thistle plant. Everyone else hates Thistles except for the short time they are blooming. But to me, this is the home for the Keeled Treehoppers, Entylia carinata. If all goes well, I'll get more chances to see their nymphs and their ant friends too!

Now for the spiders! You probably thought I would forget about them or maybe that there just weren't any this week. Wrong! They honored the short Spring two days by their presence. Naturally, there are Common House Spiders. And these tiny Social Cobweb Spiders, genus Theridion.

We had two kinds of members of the Crab Spider family. One was the Running Crab Spider that you saw last week. The last two images are of a Bassaniana genus Spider.

I walked into the kitchen from outdoors and suddenly noticed that there was a spider on the doorframe - inside the kitchen! I hurried upstairs to crop its picture and then went back down to let her out. But she either got out through some of the leaks in the door or is somewhere else to scare the cats. She is a female Dimorphic Jumping Spider. Very pretty indeed. But this species has several color combos. All the rest are male variations!

I don't see Wolf Spiders too often and always beg for help! Here is a Thin-legged Wolf Spider (genus Pardosa). First is a male - look at those mittens! Second and third are females. One trick is that the front eyes are wide-spread in Wolfers.

Of course we had our usual Sheetweb suspects.

That does it for the Spiders. There was this one little tiny Encyrtid Wasp. I'm always fooled by them, thinking they are Flies. Look - the second shot shows the little guy with a Prey item. I'd wondered where to put this third picture - This phenomenon is caused by the curvature of the glass in my dining room window! In fact, since it's double-hung, it shows the two different curvatures of the two sheets of glass.

You liked the color-morphing, so here goes with something more to bring some fun into your life. Again, you may copy these pix and send them to people you love.

Another week and the badness is encroaching on our county, but within this community there is cohesion. People are making masks for others; people are making music and dance videos and art and all sorts of things just to cheer up others. This blog is my love letter to you all. I hope when this is over we won't stop doing these things. Hang in there. Thank you to those wonderful people that bring me shopping, writing to me, and just being there.

Love, Martha

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