July 26, 2020

Martha O'Kennon

Last week, did I say "Ahhhhhhh"? Well, we had had a couple of days of cooler, less humid weather. But we are coming up on the average maximum high temperature day, six months from Groundhog day for average minimum low temperatures.

The Zinnias added a lovely mauve-ish pink flower to the deck rail boxes. The thistles in front that house the Keeled Treehopper family are still with us, though their guests have put a big dent in the viability of the condominium. And -- we haven't seen our beloved Jadesy for a long time. She survived the winter again - I think this is three years since I pinched her off the big plant that I'd given away. Let's hope the summer helps her store up whatever she needs in order to be able to bloom this winter!

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. First is one of the Acrobat Ants with her heart-shaped gaster. Then there's a member of the Camponotus (Carpenter and Sugar) genus. Third is a tiny Odorous House Ant.

Here's one of the Eastern Black Carpenter Ants that live with the Keeled Treehoppers in the Thistle plant in the front yard. In the back yard, I still see what look like Immigrant Pavement Ants on top of the weeds. And across the path there are still little yellow ants running in the Goldenrod. If they had slowed down a bit I could have said they were Hairless Rovers.

There are still a few Red Aphids in the Goldenrod in the front yard. Speaking of Aphids, do you remember the Aphid Mummies, baby Wasps that are growing inside the bodies of former Aphids, I noticed this week that some of the Mummies seem to be giving birth to the Wasps (pictures 2 (June 21) and 3 (July 4). Abby Cahill of the Biology Department says it is possible that the pink color of the hatchees may turn darker as they are outside longer. On the other hand, I have NOT noticed any turning black, but it may be that they fly off as soon as they are able.

Green Aphids are back, trying out their luck on a new Goldenrod plant, since they got wiped out on those little daisies and turned into the Aphid Mummies.

The Barklice must REALLY like the Wall of Fame. There are probably more than a dozen clutches of tiny eggs all along the South, East and North Walls. They come in white as in picture 1, or yellowish as in the other pictures. Maybe the darker eggs indicate that they are closer to hatching. We do know that the eggs are clear - we can see this in pictures where the new nymphs are yellow like the unhatched eggs. On the other hand, look at this picture from last week - the new eggs are yellow. So don't believe everything you think you see!

The most common Barklouse around here is still Graphopsocus cruciatus, what I used to call the Tiger Barklouse. But right now, the Polypsocus corruptus is still plentiful, and Echmepteryx hageni too.

Here are the nymphs of G. cruciatus and P. corruptus. You see that the G. cruciatus nymph has these 4 spots on the thorax. The P. corruptus nymphs have stripes that run through the eye to the base of the antenna. Some of the older ones, ones that might have sizable wings, seem to have two spots on the thorax.. but most do not. The last picture shows some newer ones that appeared a few days ago on the lower part of panel 3 on the North Wall. One of them has the stripes, but even more spots, almost like G. cruciatus. Is this a new Barklouse species (for this location)? We have only positively identified two nymphs - G. cruciatus and P. corruptus. Flash! I have bad news (for Barklouse lovers). Saturday evening I found this bug, Empicoris errabundus, on panel 2, scarfing the barklouse from that panel. By Sunday morning the bug was gone and so were the so-called "new species" on panel 3! Click on the picture to see that it is a bug we've seen before, a different kind of "assassin" with mantis-like arms.

Other Barklice of the week: Metylophorus novaescotiae; a reddish orange one; and a pretty freckled one.

Beetles we have known and loved: First, a Click Beetle; then a Striped Cucumber Beetle, and two black Flea Beetles.

We are still seeing the Tumbling Flower Beetles, especially this one. And finally the Japanese Beetles have found their way home.

This Leaf Miner Beetle (Sumitrosis inaequalis) is really so tiny I can't believe it every time it shows up again! Second is a marvelous long-horned Beetle - its antennae are really twice its length! I have a haunting recollection that I showed this one to you last week. It appeared on the cusp of two blogs! Third is another Redbud Bruchid.

Here are a few kinds of Lightning Beetles. It's so nice that in this time of upheaval there are still a few delights that come at twilight.

Now for the Bugs! Last week we saw some very small starter packages of our favorite Assassins! This week they are a bit larger, but still adorable. Just fattening up a little. A sad note for Stink Bug lovers. The baby Stinkers did not make it a week, despite my tender ministrations. But our favorite little Plant Bug mystery still manifests itself on the Wall of Fame, just where it belongs!

This looks so much like our little favorite, I think it must also be in the Phytocoris genus. And here is another Plant Bug, one of the Lygus Bugs. This week I didn't even see the Obscure Plant Bug, so now maybe it has gone Obscure! Oh! Maybe you remember that last week I had found this lovely Plant Bug, Hyaliodes harti, by turning over oak leaves. Maybe you also remember that I'd found this last odd thing the same way another day. Well, this week we discovered that the odd white thing was actually the nymph of the bug!

Well, let's see what Nature allowed us to see of the Leafhoppers, those little jewels. The most Jewel-like of all for me this week is the Graphocela green and red one. Unless it's the Japanese Maple Leafhopper - what a contender! Its nymph is still here too. I wonder how many growing seasons we're in the middle of..

Speaking of nymphs that look NOTHING like their parents, here's another Scaphoideus nymph. Next is a baby Japanese Leafhopper (no Maple here), and a baby Jikradia olitoria nymph too. They both have those cute little retroussee tails.

That seems to have been the sum total of the Leafhoppers. But their somewhat relatives, the Spittlebugs, gave ME a few surprises this week. I'm used to seeing the Meadow Spittlebug around, looking like this first fellow. But then out in the front yard I saw this really obscure-looking critter and it turned out to be another style of the same Meadow Spittlebug! Then in the Back Yard again, here was this REALLY different-looking one, also a Meadow Spittlebug. This one was identified by Kyle Kittelberger as the female of the species. And here I've seen so many of Number Ones, which must be males, and NEVER this female!.

Back to the Hoppers. The Two-striped Planthoppers are morphing slowly. One way to tell they are almost adults is to watch their shrinking tails. So we move on to the Treehoppers. The Keeled Treehoppers have those lovely big eyes. I really feel their kinship. Their adolescents are spectacularly prongy, aren't they?

The last of the Treehoppers are the Two Mark Treehoppers. They have almost finished their growing season. There are still a few little nymphs (picture 1), and the male adults (a little smaller thant the females) are appearing on the Redbuds (picture 2), and pretty much anywhere else they decide to sit (picture 3, on goldenrod).

I have been saving you a few more Bugs. Here is a Long-necked Seed Bug. Second, you are going to say, oh dear, Martha can't get enough of those Planthoppers. But this one is NOT a Planthopper, no matter how often I think it is. It's called a Dustywings. Third is the one I really want to show you, because it is so unusual and beautiful. It's a Lace Bug. There are lots of kinds of them. I think this one ought to be called an Oak Lace Bug, though I haven't gotten any confirmation about that, because this yard is so Oaky.

Here's a dragonfly you can see every day. It's a Meadowhawk. I think the Autumn Meadowhawk is a little bigger and some of them are red, but this one has only been appearing in its orange suit.. So it's a Meadowhawk.

I've skipped the one Butterfly till I get to the Moths, so we head right for the Flies! There are never a dearth of them, but this week was full. Let's start with some of the prettier ones. First is one I just caught today on the Goldenrod. It's a Robber Fly called a Gnat Ogre. Fancy that! Second is this Moth Fly. I think now you know where it got its name. Third is a Blue Blow Fly. And fourth is that gorgeous Long-legged Fly.

You probably remember this Crane Fly pretender, Bittacus strigosus. It flew right past me and landed under this leaf, where it probably thought I couldn't see it. Second is a Wood Soldier Fly. I thought at first it was a Sawfly, but it's not. Third is of genus Dolichopus, which is literally "Long leg". The legs are long indeed but the strange pattern on the fly's side is the surprising part. I can't really make it out very well!

Here is a very pretty Midge. Too bad it has that nasty Mite on its shoulder. Second and third are two mystery Mosquitoes.

All three pictures here are of the Plains Floodwater Mosquito, Aedes trivittatus. Remember the trivittatus means "three stripes". Now you'll never forget its name. As you will see from picture 3, yes, they bite.

How about a bunch of Flies that just look like Flies. I don't have names for any of these but they are pretty.

Oh. Here's a fly story. I found this leaf mine in an Aster leaf. I saw the little Beetle inside and send in a question to Charley Eiseman, an expert in Leaf Miners. He wrote back and said, had I actually seen the fly or was I referring to the fly puparium? I did the forehead bump - of course I'd seen the little brown thing as the end of a Beetle. Anyway, the Miner was a fly, Calycomyza promissa, known to mine Aster leaves. Second picture may be showing the just-hatched little flies.

Here is my beloved Froggy. He is unstoppable! Look at that smile in picture 2. Last is a sad sight. I believe that the raccoon tore several nasty holes in the pond liner at the shallow end. I have to refill the pond twice a day. Monday my friend Don is going to come over with some super-duper repair preparation to try to get a stop-gap (not meant to be funny) solution. But soon I think I'll have to have the pond redug (it was dug in 2006)! It's always something, isn't it?

While we're sitting by the pond, it's time for a new birth announcement: The American Toad Tadpoles (second batch) are finally getting their legs and leaving the pond to seek their little fortunes! Picture 1 shows them while the South end of the pond has gone dry (I filled it back up after taking this picture.) The next two pictures show you the real things!

Now let's dip into the world of Butterflies and Moths. I think this first Butterfly is a Banded Hairstreak. The yellow color should be red-orange, but it could have been the angle. I had to take it by leaning over it to get the outside right. :-) Second is either Homosetia fasciella or H. bifasciella, and I am leaning towards H. fasciella. Third is a mystery.

Three more mystery Moths... Actually number 2 is not a mystery any more. We have seen its caterpillar fairly regularly - it's a Gypsy Moth. Number 3 has its wings spread so that you can see the lower ones - is it just possible that it is also the Gypsy?

Now for our Orthoptera. First up, a Short-winged Green Grasshopper. Then a member of the True Crickets. Then a Pine Tree Cricket, and last a Two-spotted Tree Cricket.

How would you like to go for a stroll through the flowers? I'm ready! First is the Fall Phlox (already?) while the next one reminds us that the Spiderwort has been blooming for a long time. Maybe it's because it is very frugal with its blossoms, showing us only one a day at most days. Small but beautiful! A third purple posy is of course the Bull Thistle. I hope it will make a lot of seeds for next year's Thistle season - our beloved Keeled Treehoppers, especially their nymphs, have almost used up this year's meals.

The Zinnias we planted come up with a new color every couple of days now. This week gave us our first Yellow blossom.

The Dianthus that returned after blooming all last season and surviving the winter are just finishing up their first bloom cycle. But their new growth hasn't set buds yet. So we are enjoying them while they keeping using their winter

Now for the Spiders! First is a Cellar Spider of the genus Pholcus. It was hanging from the bottom of the window outside on the shop siding. Then a nice round-bottomed Cobweb Spider. Third is a Grass Spider. You can spot them easily because they make a web with a passageway to the center, where the Spider lives. It can come out the hole in the web to snatch a prey item.

Here is a little pink Spider (first two pictures) down in the center of the new growth in an Aster plant. It may be in the Crab Spider family. Third looks like a Running Crab Spider (because of its longish

This is that Dimorphic Jumping Spider that seems to like coming in via the kitchen-outside door. Last time I saw it, it was waiting for me to open the door so it could come in. I THINK I excluded it, but maybe not. They are so aesthetic. Next is another Jumper, and number 3 is another which belongs to the genus Hentzia.

Here is another collection of tiny spiders in the Asters and Goldenrods.

Matt Claghorn says that this next spider is a Trashline Orbweaver. I didn't see an orb (web) or any dead bugs strung along the strands......

This next one is a Cross Orbweaver. It's hard to see the "cross" on its abdomen, but you can spot it in picture 2 if you will click on the picture.

We now turn to the Wasps. Here is an Ichneumonid Wasp

This is probably a Chalcidoid Wasp. They frequently have that nice Iridescence.

Here is Ichneumon annulatorius. I'd seen it before, but not recently until this week.

How are you all doing? We're hanging in - there sure is a lot to do while hiding out from the Covid virus. This blog is late because I participated yesterday in what's called a Social Distancing Bio-Blitz. That's where a group of people sign up to take as many pictures of their region as possible. I sent in 72 pictures - there was only one other person who got fewer - and he/she may have posted more while I was lying down with the AC running full-bore and a fan set on High and aimed right at me. It could have been worse - it might have rained. There was one person who sent in over 400 pictures. Oh no, I just checked - I fell way down as other people kept posting and posting so I don't even show up on the list of people who sent in a lot of pictures. If you are interested, you might check out the website. It was quite educational.

I hope you are all doing fine too. Vaccines seem to be on the horizon - I don't know how far away the horizon is, but this is a cheering thought. Six months ago they were saying a year, but now that horizon is only about 6 months away. We've made it this far, and hopefully we'll all be let out of our cages soon. Then will we be crazy animals having a fling! You do your best, and I will too!

Love, Martha

The Water lilies are still being gorgeous.

And the cats are being crazy. Spooky has been getting old, and her kidneys are not so great. She doesn't like cat food much, even with the appetite enhancer I crush into her dry food. But what she does like is to go outside. She has been staying within a few yards of the house inside the back yard. Chaim goes out and bravely brings her indoors and gives her a few slices of turkey. Tripper graced us with one of those faces. I think she was caught in mid-yawn.

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