July 19, 2020

Martha O'Kennon

Ahhhh. That's better. It's still humid but much cooler, dotted with some nice useful rain showers.

The Hibiscus has finally started blooming. Since it isn't hardy, I have to keep it in the house all winter, and it loses its enthusiasm for setting buds. So this is progress. Second, the Bull Thistles where the Keeled Treehoppers live have finally started to bloom. And, last, the Trumpetvine doesn't do things halfway. I should have trimmed the vine enough for people to walk on the path from the backyard to the gate to the front. Well, the upper flowers have now begun to bud up.. This means the Seelys will be able to see the hummingbirds that I can't see from my house.

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 for entertainment. Here's one of the Camponotus (Carpenter and Sugar) genus that think they own the siding of my workshop; Next is a big Eastern Black Carpenter Ant inspecting a nymph in the Keeled Treehopper nest in the big Thistle. You probably wonder why I keep showing you the Treehopper nymphs when we're only in the A's, but that is where the action is these days with the Eastern Black Carpenters! They run all over those Thistles. Third is a Small Honey Ant. And fourth is a bunch of really little Acrobat Ants in the Trumpetvine flowers.

(Since the big Carpenters moved into Treehopper Manor, I haven't seen the little yellow Hairless Rover Ants. Not one. I have to pay more attention to the tops of the plants by the pond.) But we had lots of Ants in the yard with all the Oak and Maple saplings. I THINK this first one is a Punctured Ant. It, like the Immigrant Pavement Ant, has a droopy gaster. But the shape of the heads seems different. The Punctured has a rounder head, while the I.P.A. has a squarish head. Maybe the second one is the Immigrant Pavement Ant. Third is one of the Odorous House Ants (genus Tapinoma). I'll bet a lot of the minuscule ants that are everywhere are some of these.

The Ants have hit pay dirt this week. Here is an Eastern Black Carpenter Ant carrying a large carrion up the sidewalk. Next is a Smaller Carpenter Ant with a huge insect (a fly? I don't recognize the prey) almost her own size. But here is our amazing strange weird shot of the week. I thought I'd found the Longest Ant Prize winner until I counted (yes, Math nerds can too count) the legs. It turned out that there was a group of six legs in the back and then who knows how many in front! Steven Wang (@stevenw12339) came to the rescue again with this email explanation: "This ant is carrying one of its nestmates who is in a curled position. I don't remember when exactly they do this, but I think it may have something to do with nest relocation or food? Anyhow, apparently more efficient for ants to carry each other than for both of them to walk themselves? Or something like that! " and includes this reference:

Obviously they are very good at packing up their friends so that the package looks almost square!

The poor Green Ants are long gone from the plant that was attacked by the Aphid-parasitic Wasps. But there are a group of red ones in the Goldenrod in the Front Yard. But that was all I saw for now. So let's look at the Barklice, which were multitudinous. Last week we had seen one called Echmeptyrex hageni (picture 2). I had still never seen it coming. That is, I had never seen the nymph in any stage. But this little guy appeared this week (number 3) and was identified by Scott Shreve of iNat as the very nymph!

The very common Graphopsocus cruciatus Barklice are even more common. They began maturing a good while ago now. Anyway, most of the adults are still in the webbing they hatched from. Here's a nest with two! There are still nymphs around. Or maybe there are NEW nymphs. Too bad we can't tag them. But here is one nymph. Its wings are pretty well-advanced so it will probably be an adult soon. Meanwhile, little clutches of eggs have been appearing for some time now. On the North Wall alone, there is a patch on panels 5, 6 and 7! But here is an older patch on the East Wall.

Both East and North Walls are dotted with at least a half-dozen egg clusters. First is a clutch of 10 on the East Wall. Second is definitely the worst picture I got all week. The subject must have moved suddenly. I was sitting inside later cropping the morning's pictures and almost tossed that one but then something was gnawing at me and so I trudged back outdoors to try to find the spot where I took that picture. Suddenly there they were - a proud Mother Barklouse and a few eggs that she had finished laying.

The Polypsocus corruptus Barklice are still around (picture 1); but yesterday there were also this little yellow-orange one and even a whitish one, which may have hatched so recently (see the little nymphal skin?) that their true final adult colors have not finished developing.

The past couple of weeks haven't seen many beetles, but this week was a definite improvement. Here are two very small ones, probably Flea Beetles of some sort. There were a few Tumbling Flower Beetles (here are two).

I don't know how many species of Lightning Beetles there are, but somehow each one seems subtly different. As you can see, some have a yellow stripe down the back and some are all black there. The third one is a Flat-faced Long-horned Beetle. Long horns, indeed. Its antennae are about twice its length!

This first one was on an Oak leaf. I love its antennae. Second is an Ant-mimicking Beetle named Anthicus cervinus, with a shape and ability to curve its body less stiffly than many beetles. Third is a very attractive Beetle, probably in genus Anaspis.

These Weevils look so big in photographs, but some of them are actually far down on the scale of visibility. Translated, they are actually almost invisible. But cute. Here is another. Third and fourth show some of the color range between two Redbud Bruchids, depending on the light.

Finally, the Bugs! I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that after seeing a spate of adult Zelus luridus the slate of nymphal Assassins seemed to have been wiped clean. But there is one thing that a spate of Adults means - and that is new babies. So here are some new babies. This first couple were only about 2 millimeters long. Third is already in hunting posture.

While we're on the subject of Assassins, here is a relative, a Damsel Bug. Compare it with the Assassin Bug above, especially as to stance and arm position.

Over to the Leafhoppers: First, one of genus Erythridula, which can come in either red or yellow; Then the gorgeous Graphocela and its nymph. How can something so devoid of color give place to something with all the colors?

The Japanese Maple Leafhopper and one of its nymphal instars.

Then the "just plain" Japanese Leafhopper (the blue mosaic form - the usual is shades of brown) and its nymph from two angles. Note the turned-up tail of the nymph.

For the longest time, I thought the retroussee tail only showed up in the nymph of the "Coppery Leafhopper", Jikradia olitoria, and so I confused the Japanese Leafhopper's tail with that of J.olitoria. At that time, I still thought that the nymphal stages of an insect all bore a resemblance to the adult itself. I'll show you what I mean when we get to the Orthopterans: Katydids, Grasshoppers and Crickets. But that statement falls apart when we get out of that order. But I digress, though not too much. Here is the Coppery Leafhopper (a highly colored photo from August of last year), the nymph we usually associate with that hopper, and something I found on the Shop siding the other day: a nymph so small it might last year not even have registered with my eyes. It was identified on iNat the other day as J. olitoria, but my question, "How do we know it isn't (for instance) a Japanese Leafhopper?", hasn't had an answer yet.

More Leafhoppers! Here is an old friend, Scaphoideus obtusus; a new friend, Scaphoideus carinatus; and a member of the genus Osbornellus, so far not identified to species.

We don't have much in the way of Planthoppers, but we do have a lot of one particular nymph, and that is Acanalonia trivittata (picture 1). Picture 2 shows an adult of another kind of Planthopper. I don't know what the third picture is showing, or if the red critters are related to the Planthopper.

One more kind of Hopper for us to check in on, and that's the Treehoppers. The Keeled ones in the Thistle seem to be under the kind attention of the Eastern Black Treehoppers, and no longer the Hairless Rover Ants. The nymphs seem to grow at different rates. Maybe there is a size and appearance difference between the males and females. Here are some of the nymphs - look how they have grown since they hatched! The last shot shows the mother and a nymph.

My other favorite Treehopper is the spin-off of the Two Mark Treehoppers that happen to live in my Redbuds. Here are three adults in one of the saplings. Here is another adult, which I think looks a lot like a Brontosaurus, and finally one of the remaining nymphs on the underside of a Redbud leaf. I'm expecting the next lot of adults to be males.

Let's catch up with the Plant Bugs. Here's that one that we watched all the way through its nymphhood to adulthood. I still haven't seen one in the literature that looks like it. Second is the 4-lined Plant Bug, which is a voracious plant killer, but oh how pretty a monster. Third is the Obscure Plant Bug, which should have been named the Everywhere Plant Bug.

Here is a tiny Plant Bug called Rhinocapsus vanduzeei, which can easily hide from you if you are't looking for it.

Here is one of the prizes you get sometimes if you will carefully turn over a few leaves. This beautiful little Plant Bug is called Hyaliodes harti.

For some reason, this was a bumper year for Paraxenatus guttulatus, the beautifully engineered Ant Mimic Bugs. You can see how much further along the front end of the Bug in the first picture is than the one in picture 2. Picture 3 gets the focus back onto the rear end.

Here's a pretty blue-black Bug, with no ID yet. And yes, another Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. And yes, I did mess up and forgot the Spittle Bug which should have been nearer to the Leafhoppers. Here is the Meadow Spittlebug.

Oh yes, while visiting Kathleen Seidl and walking six feet apart at her lovely garden, we discovered some kind of little Stink Bugs (I DON'T think they are BMSB) which were just hatching from their egg mass on the underside of a Redbud leaf. I've been feeding them one big leaf daily, and haven't noticed their making much headway on the leaf. Here you see them on July 15th, when I had just brought them home. Picture 2 shows two which are much larger, having already outgrown their infant skins on the 18th. In picture 3, several larger bugs have already mastered the fine art of climbing up the leaf stem.

I discovered that one of the babies was in the act of getting out of its old skin. By picture 3, he has managed to get his back end out and is almost free of the old skin, the thing with 6 old leg skins. Look at that FACE! Can you say "CUTE" in BugLang?

We've now reached the Flies. I always used to present the Crane Flies first, since C is so early in the alphabet. But since we haven't been seeing many Cranes I kind of fell off that wagon. However, we do have this little red Crane Fly. And to add to the mystique, the next Fly is called Bittacus strigosus and is NOT a Crane at all. And to make that crazier, at first I thought it was a Spider, since it was hanging underneath some foliage

Here are a couple of Fruit Flies - one without and one with spots on the wings. The little Rust Fly (Loxocera cylindrica) is not much bigger than the fruit flies!

Both of these first two little Hover Flies are Toxomerus geminatus. But what I loved most in picture 2 is the iridescence on the wings. The third Fly and the little "daisy" it's on look like picture 1, but this shot was taken at the Seidls' garden, and the Fly is Toxomerus marginatus.

This first Midge also has lovely iridescent wings, and the second has a nice tint of green. Third is not a midge, but it is one of my favorite Flies, Minettia lupulina.

Here we have two Flies that aren't easily identified. But the third one is a tiny fly (about 3 mm long) from the raspberry patch in the front side yard, and I believe its name is Thaumatomyia glabra (based on the fact that I had one of these last year).

Here are three "standard Fly-shaped" Flies. What a difference the colors make. I believe the second one is a Tachinid Fly. (I'm going by the sharp hairs on its abdomen). Third is probably a Green Bottle Fly. There are so many that look alike, but if you call this one a Green Bottle, I don't think the door will fly open and you'll be taken to Fly Jail.

I almost forgot to add a little bit about the Mosquitoes. They have been aggressive to say the least. Stay away from them! ps. They are all Aedes trivittatus referring to the three stripes on the scutum (back of the thorax)....

Froggy has really opened up. He will start speaking with very little encouragement. The only thing that makes him skittish is if you walk past him too quickly, causing him to leap into the water.

Let's tie up some loose ends before I let you loose in the Flower Garden. How about some Moth Mysteries?

More Moths!

Still more Moths! Picture 3 shows one of the Monarch Caterpillars Deb Seely found on Abby and Dick Mortensen's farm, chowing down on their Milkweed.

This first one is NOT a caterpillar, but a centimillipede. That means I can't make out whether each segment has one or two legs. If one, it is a centipede. If two, it's a millipede. Number 2 is a cocoon where some creature is completing its term of waiting till it emerges as an adult Something.

We now find ourselves examining some of the Orthoptera: Grasshoppers, Katydids, and Crickets. Here are a couple of Tree Crickets that we found hiding under an Oak Leaf. Next, a Scudderian Katydid nymph.

This little fellow is a Short-winged Green Grasshopper (Dichromorpha viridis). Second is probably the same one, but the picture was taken in lighter twilight. Third was taken at the Seidls'.

Oh DO let's see some lovely Flowers. Here's that shameless Hibiscus, and then Hosta Flowers from the Northern Side of the House. And the Day Lilies are still blooming!

Here we have the Purple Spiderwort, which is still blooming one flower by one. Then the Dianthus, between blooms but still gorgeous. Finally, who says Raspberries are not flowers? Oh, you do.

Herewith the Trumpetvine flowers. No wonder the hummingbirds love them so! The Zinnias are becoming braver about blooming next to each other. But the Water Lilies, now that they are blooming in two colors (really three, but the yellow one is a bit shy about blooming next to the Magenta and Pink ones. I'll work it in before this blog is over, promise!

The "Common" House Spider is really far from "common"-looking, isn't it? In the second picture, that CHS seems to have caught one of the little Assassin Bugs! Third is another kind of Cobweb Spider.

First here is a mystery Jumping Spider. It could be Naphrys pulex, but I'm not sure. Second and third show another kind of Jumping Spider, happily lying await in the Goldenrod.

Here is a little Crab Spider in the Goldenrod. Can you see how it holds its two front legs together, making the amalgam resemble a Crab's claws? Abby Mortensen taught me about this. Second here is a Running Crab Spider. You can spot one because its abdomen is slightly elongated. This one seems to be eating a Leafhopper or some such thing. Third looks like another Running Crab Spider.

Mea maxima culpa. I seem to have broken the web of this little Orchard Orbweaver, because it suddenly found itself on a bit of bark. Even if you couldn't identify it at first, the beautiful green legs are a good hint!

Here is a mystery Spider. I need to get it identified.

I believe this is a male Vespula Maculifrons (spotted-face Yellowjacket) or Eastern Yellowjacket.

We had a plethora of Ichneumonid Wasps, the ones whose females have long ovipositors. I like the curled antennae on this one.

Here are a few other Wasps. I didn't see our pet Encyrtids this week. But I believe number 1 is among the Chalcidoid Wasps, to which the Encyrtids belong. Maybe number 2-3 is a winged ant?

Hoping that everyone is still coping - and better than coping! It's been four months already of staying home. Shopping online. Streaming Death in Paradise. Playing with the bugs. Taking showers. I know I started this blog off up there about how much cooler it was. Well, on Friday it WAS cooler. Right now, we're waiting for a storm to come and cool us down a bit. The phone is now waiting for a Sim-card -- whatever that is! Look, everyone take care of each other - all we can do and it'll be a LOT when the world comes back off HOLD.

Love, Martha

Fooled you! I still have some Water Lily pictures.

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