March 15, 2020

Martha O'Kennon

Finally! The flowers are beginning to come out. First out were the Winter Aconites, the famous ones all over Albion because of Betty Beese's generosity. A few days later out came a very few Snowdrops mixed among the Aconites, then in larger bunches. And a few days later than that, here are the Beautiful Early Crocus. With the help of iNat, I learned that the snowdrops in my yard are Common Snowdrops, while the ones in the Seelys' yard are Greater Snowdrops. How to tell the difference? The Greater Snowdrops have wider leaves, up to a half-inch wide. They also have more green patches in their inner petals.

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 little ants are beginning to creep out and walk around on the shop siding. All the ones I've seen so far are the tiny Small Honey Ants. Here are two variations. One looks redder and is showing its fangs. The next one seems blacker. One way to tell the Small Honeys is that they have two little segments between head and abdomen (gaster), and that gaster is prodigious!

You probably noticed that we haven't seen any bees for a long time. But now that we have flowers, we get the bees back too! Here is one in the Early Crocus, and another in the Winter Aconite. That third one doesn't look like a Honey Bee, does it? Well that's because it is a Fly! I don't recognize it but it has the appetite of a Honey Bee anyway.

Beetles are us! Here is what is probably a Flea Beetle. Tiny and Shiny. The second beetle looks a lot like the ones we used to see in the Fall. I need to submit both of these for ID before I send this out.

The beetle in this row, appearing on March 2, is one of a motherlode full of Rove Beetles, you know - the ones with short outer wings so that much of the abdomen shows. It looks like one that Boris Büche ID'd in February as Subfamily Aleocharinae.

The first two images here are of another Rove Beetle (maybe same as above but maybe not). Third is of a different species - I guessed Genus Anotylus and B. Büche said "Could be".

Seen on March 8, this first one looks fatter than the preceding ones. I wonder what it's eating. The second appeared the same day, but looks longer than the others. All of these are probably the same. They all have something delectable in their mouths.

The final beetle is a shiny iridescent weevil.

Suddenly the leafhoppers are reappearing. Picture 1 is in genus Balclutha; 2 is Erasmoneura vulnerata; 3 is in genus Erythridula; and 4 is something else. It's so nice to see these little jewels coming back.

One more leafhopper (I think - can't see its spiky legs), partly hidden under the door frame. There were two other Bugs. A mystery Lygus and a Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, the one everyone loves to hate.

I hope you like flies, because we had quite a few different species. By far the most plentiful this week were those Midges, tiny mosquito-like flies that come with this time of year. First here is a male Non-biting Midge. We haven't talked about this for a long time, but the males are the ones with the enormously fluffy antennae. Second is a female of possibly another species. Some of these midges at least have been identified to genus. The ones with the wide wings are probably of subfamily Diamesinae. Note: Since I'm feeling pedantic, you will sometimes find something placed into a superfamily and that name will end in "dea"; the family name will end in "dae" and the subfamily will end with "nae". Whew!

Look at the end of the abdomen of this midge. That's a characteristic of the Non-biting Midges. The midges are particularly susceptible to a small red parasitic mite, and picture 2 shows a Midge with one of those Mites.

This fly was identified as one of the Nematoceran Flies (Suborder Nematocera) by @megachile.

This little flasher is a mystery fly, meaning I haven't yet submitted it for ID to iNat. The antennae make me think of the Gall Midges.

Speaking of Gall Midges, here is one. See what I mean about the distinctive antennae? They also have enormously long legs. Picture 3 is of another Long-legged Fly.

I almost walked right past this really tiny thing. Fortunately the camera could pick up a creature a fraction of a millimeter long. The last two pictures are of Muscids (flies shaped like a housefly).

These husky reddish flies are probably related to the Dung Flies. Picture 2 is a side view, and picture 3 barely shows the wing dot pattern that I've seen in iNat lately and might help identify the fly.

This mystery fly was lunching on a Winter Aconite. The last shot MAY show a Fly or maybe it's an Encyrtid Wasp. I'm leaning toward the latter!

Either that Inchworm we've been tailing all winter has grown or this is a new much bigger one.

Let's visit the Spiders. They were the MOST faithful visitors all winter to the Great Wall, as they call the shop siding, that lovely expanse of blue steel. First is a Common House Spider dancing with its shadow. The next two images are of a Dwarf Spider (genus Grammonota). Last was taken on the following day (March 2). Matt says the fourth picture is another Sheetwebber, and it may even be another Grammonota, just not showing the usual color markings very well. Thanks, Matt!.

That Green Long-jawed Orbweaver actually showed up more than in any other winter I've been documenting! Last is the only shot I got of one of the big harbingers of spring, the Tuft-legged Orbweaver (Mangora placida).

A little black spider with red legs (probably a Sheetweb Spider) showed up on March 4 (first two shots) and again on March 9 (last two). Just the last one doesn't seem to have noticeably red legs. :-)

Here's that Western Lynx Spider that we saw last time (First two pictures). Third is another suspected WLS but found on the deck siding.

The Stoneflies are back. Here you see one from March 1, then two probably different individuals from March 7.

The fishes are getting more active. I may add a new fish or two this summer to get some more colors into the gene pond. One that I'm not seeing lately is Baby Leroy, who looked a lot like the bigger of the blue fish in this picture, but a little pinker. He would have been one of the oldest fish in the pond.

Albion is shutting down a lot due to the Covid 19 virus. The schools will close Monday for at least a couple of weeks. I got a Pneumonia booster this week. I hope everyone is well and feeling brave and hopeful. We're all in this together! Virtual hugs all around!

Love, Martha

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