July 12, 2020

Martha O'Kennon

Did I say it was hot last week? Well, this week beat the Bug all holler. I can't stand to go out for long because of the heat, humidity and, if I'm not a good slatherer, the mosquitoes.

The overwintered Dianthus have about finished - but they have silently been gathering new buds on new stalks. I've been dead-heading them all along and I think even those old stems have new buds. The Day Lilies are open everywhere in this continent and Russia too (Pavel posted one in Researchgate) and are about to peak. The Deptford Pinks are now blooming thicker than I recall - ever!

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.

The Ants are always good to watch. Here's an Acrobat Ant (see the heart-shaped gaster?); this next one (member of genus Camponotus) is carrying a big piece of something that looks like popcorn, supposedly to its nest, which is probably under the shop. Third is a big Eastern Black Carpenter Ant nuzzling a nymph in the Keeled Treehopper nest in the big Thistle.

The tiny little (1 millimeter long) Hairless Rover Ant is all over the place this year. It probably was in preceding years too, but I overlooked that small yellowish dot. I've seen them on top of Oak leaves and Redbud leaves and last week you saw that they also enjoyed being in Keeled Treehopper nests nursing the nymphs for their honeydew. Here's a scene from there on June 30, then one from July 9. But I'd forgotten that I had an older picture from June 25 showing one in a Redbud with a Two-mark Treehopper nymph too! It seems these ants are not strictly limited to the ground. And that they join the list of ants that nanny the nymphs of other creatures.

On July 9, I saw this amazing Wasp with four tissue-paper looking wings. But when I submitted it to iNat, they suggested Myrmicine ANT! Steven Wang explained that yes, it is a male Immigrant Pavement Ant (Tetramorium immigrans) and "males are real waspy looking like this one." Second is a picture from 2018 of my first Immigrant Pavement Ant. Third is from April 27 this year, when the Ants were swarming in Seelys' yard. But I haven't got any other pictures of the winged male. Hmmm. There's always something new to learn.

Now for something NEW! A couple of weeks ago, a colony of Green Aphids had formed on a little Daisy-flowered plant on the North side of the woodshop (picture 1 - June 23). A few days after that, I started to see little aphid-sized but ROUNDish reddish creatures on the same plant. And in another couple of days, July 1, I noticed that a number of the little round reddish creatures had apparently molted for they were just empty skins. I didn't point out that all the Green real Aphids had disappeared. So last week, after I sent out the Blog for July 5, I got a letter from Abigail Cahill, the Invertebrate Specialist in the Biology Dept at Albion College. She said, "I suspect the roundish brown aphids have been parasitized and are 'mummies'. It turns out that there are horrendous little "Aphid Wasps", which lay their eggs in the nice Green Aphids, and as the Wasp larvae eat up the Green Aphids from the inside, the Green Aphids turn into those reddish "Aphid Mummies". The ones that are now empty skins have burst so that the Wasps can get out and parasitize other Aphids.

Here is her reference.

Time for the Barklice! If you remember, the Barklouse eggs were hatching by the third week in June. Here are a batch hatching on June 21. All those nymphs soon took on the coloration of the Graphopsocus cruciatus. Well, this week the walls are full of adult G. cruciatus. It seems strange that the little nymphs that grew up to be Polypsocus corruptus took almost exactly a month from the time I started to be able to see them to reach adulthood, while the G. cruciatus managed to reach it in about two weeks. I mentioned last week that I hadn't seem any P.corruptus but I think I just got tired of photographing them and here are some from july 6. What I'm wondering now is when I'll start to see their eggs around.

The Metylophorus novaescotiae are still here in small numbers. But for the first time this spring, we are seeing Echmeptyrex hageni, those shaggy members of the scaly-winged Barklice (pictures 2 and 3).

I didn't see any bees again. I am looking forward to a few weeks ahead when the Goldenrod and then the Asters will be blooming and attracting many kinds of wasps and other creatures that particularly like those flowers. Actually, Bees and Wasps aren't the only pollinators. Remember the Hover Flies? Just last week we met a new kind of creature - the Hover Fly larva. And we saw one of the adult Hover flies too. We'll see one in the section on Flies (if there were any).

Meanwhile, the Beetles continue to appear, familiar ones and new ones too. The Carpet Beetle (Anthrenus verbasci) is still here, and this Click Beetle. This Oriental Beetle, Exomala orientalis, is one of the new arrivals.

For some reason, there were a few different Tumbling Flower Beetles. They come in so many color combinations that it is hard to identify some of the species. They are so iridescent that sometimes they seem to change from shot to shot. One that we seem to see every week is the Redbud Bruchid. Here is one that I didn't recognize for a long time because it had stuck its neck out to snoop around, and I'd rarely seen one do that.

Like last week, I saw more Bugs than Beetles. While "doing" the back yard, I didn't see any Assassin Bugs, but in the afternoon I just happened to be in the front yard, and suddenly saw one. I didn't recognize it at first, as it was mostly yellow. But it did have nice red eyes, so I figure it had only recently moulted the previous nymphal skin and was waiting to turn into the more traditional colors- mostly green..

Let's move on to the Hoppers. The Leafhoppers really came through this week. The Four-spotted Leafhoppers (Agallia quadripunctata) have been here for quite a while. And the brightly-striped Leafhoppers of genus Graphocela too. Third is some kind of Scaphoideus - they tend to have a longitudinal trail of symmetrical figures down their backs, and sometimes what looks like a stylized flower pattern on the sides. While we're on the subject of Scaphoideus, you might be lucky enough to spot something like the little nymph that was hidden in the leaves of a Goldenrod - we had a better picture of it last week.

It still floors me how different the nymphs can look from the adult versions. For instance, here is the nymph we saw last week of a Japanese Maple Leafhopper, and next is the adult that is out there this week. Last is one from the front yard this afternoon - is this Japanese Maple Leafhopper having a bite of prey? Last is a picture I just shot this afternoon. It's another Leafhopper nymph - that of the Jikradia olitoria!

Here is the leafhopper Pediopsoides distinctus, which we met last week. Next is one in the genus Macropsis, which sounds like "big eyes" but looks more like "big round head" to me. And third is that perennial light green Leafhopper, which resembles so many different species, and so is very hard to identify to species.

From Leafhopper to Planthopper. We didn't see much in the way of Planthoppers, just this nymph of the genus Acanalonia. Second is something we haven't seen in many months. It's called a Delphacid Planthopper, and this one is Stenocranus brunneus. Third is another one that I haven't seen in a year or two, and it's the Alder Spittlebug. I saw it first several years ago on the lower branches of the big Redbud, sometimes near the Two-Mark Treehopper. The Spittlebugs are not Hoppers, but they all branch out from a node in the family tree labeled Cicadas, Hoppers, and Spittlebugs.

Last among the Hoppers, we come to the Treehoppers. I haven't seen the little green Treehopper nymph since last time, the one with all the wonderful filaments all over its midline. But my two most faithful Treehopper friends have been doing well. My dear variant on the Two Mark Treehopper did well this year, even when the Ants were harder to catch in the process of tending the nymphs. Now there are adults all over all the Redbud saplings above a certain height. Here are three sitting right next to each other. Meanwhile there are still quite a few little nymphs around, mostly sitting on the backsides of leaves (of Redbud), and I suspect that they will morph into adult males. Andy Hamilton last year ascertained that our particular species' males emerge quite a bit after the females, which are (as usual in the bug world) larger. I may have seen a few small ones already. Picture 2 shows a nymph under a leaf. Last are two adults, the lower of which has "hatched" most recently as it has not gone all the way from light blue to black yet, but rather is still quite maroon in places.

Our other most faithful Treehopper is Entylia carinata, which we have seen earlier in this Blog in the section on Ants. Now that the nymphs are coming along, I hope to get some good shots of the interaction between nymph and Nanny Ant, like this pair of shots from last year, which shows the ant nuzzling a nymph and then the nymph exuding a nice drop of "honeydew". But meanwhile here is a mother with a nice nymph.

Back from the Hoppers and kin to the True Bugs, which includes the Plant Bugs and that sort of thing. First up here is the Obscure Plant Bug, and I still don't understand its name. It is one of the most common Plant Bugs in my menagerie. Second is another view and light. Third is another little bug, probably also a Plant Bug, but this one is a nymph.

Oh! I almost forgot! (not really, how could I?) A couple of weeks ago, I saw a very pretty little Plant Bug nymph which was ID'd as belonging to the genus Phytocoris. It had very unusual delicate red markings on a light body. Every couple of days it would return to the Wall of Fame, having aged a bit as evidenced by the length of the growing wings. Here are three installations of this tale, showing nymphs from June 13, June 15, and June 28.

The development continued, showing shots from July 2, July 4 and July 6. The adult has lost a lot of the precise markings from earlier instars, but the pattern on the hind legs gives away its relationship with the rest. There are also some remnants of the early pattern on the head.

Another interesting Bug is this one that looks like an Ant. We've seen it before in other years - in this nymph form, it fooled me the first time I saw it. It's Paraxenetus guttulatus and is one of the more well-known Ant Mimics. Second shows what it will look like when it's an adult! The video clip shows one on the Wall wrestling with what I thought was some kind of prey. John and Jane Balaban of iNat pointed out that it looks more as if it didn't come cleanly out of its last moult but still had its old skin stuck to both antennae. How embarassing!

Here is the little guy traipsing along the leaf.

There was one more bug, a Stink Bug. I can't bring myself to show more than one picture of this nymph, which is going to turn into a BMSB!

Something just nudged me into looking under this Oak leaf! There I found this white creature - I would have called it a Fly but some of the pictures made it look as if it had four wings! In picture 2, you can see a tiny Spider on the same underside. I hope it doesn't eat the new Mystery before I find out what it is. Sneak peek: The white runner is indeed the nymph of a Plant Bug, Hyaliodes harti. I'll show you the adult when it hatches.

Two days later, again on a hunch I lifted that oak leaf and there on the back of it was this gorgeous and novel-looking Plant Bug called Hyaliodes harti!

A Banded Hairstreak Butterfly finally sat still enough for me to shoot it in the front yard on its favorite haunt, the Common Evening Primrose. And since we had enough Caterpillars in the back yard, I decided to put all these things together here in between the Bugs and the pre-Fly critters. Picture 2 shows (I believe - relying on my long-term memory here) a Grey Pug Moth caterpillar, while Picture 3 shows the caterpillar of the Brown-hooded Owlet Moth.

We are now on the edge of the Flies. But first, an Earwig. And a view of the pond. I had just sung the song and the Fishes had come and eaten their fishy food. Suddenly I saw one of the black/brown fishes with a long worm in its mouth heading straight for its tummy. Suddenly (again) the bright blue and red and.... Shubunkin named Bunky snatched the worm out of the other fish. Here he is with the worm sticking out of his mouth! And you thought those were sweet little pet fishes! Oh! In case you are worried that Bunky choked on the worm, I saw him the next day and he seemed to have finished it off.

So NOW for the flies. I promised you one of the Hover Flies, and here it is: Toxomerus geminatus on one of the little daisy flowers. After the surprise of finding the larva (?) of genus Ocyptamus of Hover Flies (picture 2 from last week) it took me a while to locate the place where I'd seen it, but since then I've been shooting it most every day, as in pictures 3 (July 7) and 4 (July 9). On June 11 I couldn't find it and wonder if it had gone adult on me. I'll have to keep my eyes open for a new kind of Hover Fly! December 19, 2020: A recent ID by Even Dankowicz, a real Fly expert on iNat, gives this as the larva of the Dusky-winged Hover Fly, Ocyptamus fuscipennis.

Let's look at a few of the littler flies. Here's a little Fruit Fly (without spots). Next are a couple of those Long-legged Flies with the marvelous iridescence.

Here are two Flies that were sitting very close to each other. I'm supposing that they had some ideas but I never saw them get together.

Here is a minuscule fly that I see fairly frequently in the Goldenrod (which has yet to bloom). It is hard to shoot among the leaves but I can pull up on the end of one to see the insect on the next leaf down and the fly is pretty forgiving. Here are two shots from July 6, first a front view and then a rear view. Third is a front view taken on July 8 and then a vertical nearly full-frontal view that same day. I believe that long pink thing is its ovipositor, but this is the only fly I know that displays it like that. Maybe it (she) is laying eggs, but if so they are very small. Someone in iNat suggested this could be a member of the Superfamily Sciaroidea of Fungus Gnats and Gall Midges. How can such a tiny creature be so captivating?

Here is possibly the same fly on July 9. It's almost certainly the same species.

Here we have a small fly from the shady (eastern) part of the back yard, sitting on what is either an Oak or a Redbud leaf, on July 10.

This long low Fly, seen a while later, also on July 10, may be the same species as the previous Fly.

Here are a few more attractive Flies. First and second, a Quadrate Snipe Fly. Third, a huge Sarcophagus Fly, one of the Flesh-eaters.

Just a bit more among the Flies. This first one I don't know and also I wonder why it is exuding a water drop from its mouth. The next two are of a Robber Fly.

Froggy has become a real talk show host. I set up two chairs out around the pond, and whenever Froggy hears two people chatting he joins right in. In fact, if I'm just out back and talking to something I'm trying to take a picture of, he joins in. What a treat! Let's continue taking a break and just wandering around looking at the flowers. The old hibiscus that spends its winters indoors has just had her first flower of this year! Jadesy is another house plant in this latitude, and I hope she will bloom when she goes in this fall. I remember when I lived in Cape Town and would pass a stair-full of blooming Jade Plants on my way up the hill to the University. It was the first time I'd ever known they could bloom. I have to leave her out till almost frost. By then, you can just about see little buds set and as soon as she comes in and assumes her place of honor in the front porch, she will bloom for a couple of months. Wish her luck!

This Day Lily strain must be one of the widest flung in the world. I'd like to hear from as many people as possible as to whether you have them in your neck of the woods. So far we know North America and Russia have them. This Dianthus (Pink) survived the winter - Does it do that in other places in the world? The Celandine Poppy (or Golden Wood Poppy in the Audubon Book of Wildflowers) bloomed for a couple of months if you count this last bloom.

Snowberry makes huge white snowball-shaped seed cases that make a very satifsying POP when you stamp on them on a sidewalk. They are rather pesky but there are some wasps and Bumblebees that enjoy their nectar. That trumpetvine that grabs you as you try to make it from back yard to front, and worse in the opposite direction. And the Thistles are all set to bloom in a couple of weeks. That's great, because this year's plants, where the Keeled Treehoppers live will suffer from the nymphs. Their solution is to bloom and surreptitiously start a new plant for next year!

Now we can carry on with the rest of the alphabet. We saw a Butterfly and a few Caterpillars back in place, but now it's time to take a look at the Moths that came through. Hee hee, a Millipede asked to be remembered, so here it is. I've not much idea of WHICH millipede it is. Next is a Moth that hasn't been officially ID'ed yet, but the iNat ID app says it is an Olethreutine Leafroller Moth. And then a Grape Plume Moth.

Some more Moths. This first one is in the Tribe Gelechiini. Second is Homosetia bifasciella, a member of such delightful things as Fungus or Clothes Moths. Third is unknown but very pretty.

Three more Mystery Moths. They're a mystery to me because I haven't had the time to look up any of them. I'm sorry. :-)

Last time I decided to group the Katydids, Grasshoppers and Crickets as one category Orthopterans. Here is what we saw this week. This first one is the nymph of a cricket of the subfamily Hapithinae. (did you know that Subfamilies always end with "-nae" while Families end with "-dae"? I didn't but now I do. And now so do you! The next two show a nymph of the Scudderian Bush Crickets.

Here we are finally at the Spiders! First I believe is a Common House Spider. The next two are Cobweb Spiders. A pretty good trick for diagnosing a Cobweb Spider is to look at the abdomen. If it is round, your chances are good.

The sharp-tailed ones running in a web nest are probably Grass Spiders. The next one looks like a Running Crab Spider. I'm guessing this because its abdomen is elongated slightly. This one superimposed on a Spider Egg Case is a Phrurolithid Spider. The name, not the Spider, maketh me want to thpit.

You aren't going to believe this one! Usually you see the Common Pirate Spider (Mimetus puritanus) on the Wall of Fame, but this one is playing in the plants. If you don't recognize him (or herm), look at the whitish grin on its abdomen, and the fancy tie design on its head.

By the way, there was a Spider's egg case up a bit from here. Here are a few more styles. The little critters in picture 3 were below egg case # 2 (see how it looks opened?).

We saw a few of our favorite Wasps. Here is a lovely little wasp with a kind of large bee-like head. I haven't heard yet from the Wasp Expert I tagged to see if he could tell me what it is. Second is a Chalcidoid Wasp. It is smaller than most Ants and seems to visit us often. The cute Encyrtid Wasps that have been running about on our Redbud leaves, and shown in picture #3 are a sub-branch of the Chalcidoids.

Here is one of our Ichneumonid Wasps. I'm not sure what the others are, but Wasps in general seem so aesthetic, like well-built little Flying Machines. The third one reminds me of the Chalcidoids or Encyrtids. It is a sturdy little wasp!

Oh my. Usually at the end of a blog, I have to run around and around in the picture collection to see if I can't find some pretty flowers to show you. But now almost at the very end of the Alphabet, right after the Wasps, come the Water Lilies. The raccoons have been driving me crazy standing in the shallow water chasing the fishes. They do this after midnight - I stayed up one time to check when they would arrive. They have been de-centralizing the lily plants and pushing them to the back of the pond. But despite them, the Lilies have decided to continue blooming. Well, anyway. Here is a shot of two Lilies blooming and if you can strain and also use your imagination, there is between the lilies and the rock border a little red glow. It is the bud of a Magenta Lily that is the most beautiful thing in the pond (above the water anyway). It will bloom quite a few times. I hope it isn't giving it away to say that you will definitely see it next week.

Everyone still hanging in? I hope so. Who knows, there COULD soon be a vaccine or at least a trial vaccine or other thing to take some of the terror out of the air. But more importantly, we have our friendship to change it to hopefulness and curiosity. Meanwhile, my new phone came. Chaim is going to get me a saner company so that I can use it more flexibly. And then we can try whats-apping. Keep well, everyone!!

Love, Martha

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