May 17, 2020

Martha O'Kennon

Well, Winter punched Spring in the chops for a couple of days. Then Spring kung-fu kicked Winter in the gut.. Then as it was warming up, Rain gave Spring a good talking-to. One thing is for sure, a warm rainy day at the Wall of Fame is exhausting for the landlord. I would just finish cropping the morning shots and looking around and suddenly the Wall would be covered with more little creatures, each one seemingly in the middle of a spring rain-bath. Meanwhile, the Big Redbud tree out back is blooming fully. The small patch of Wild Geraniums has bloomed. I was explaining to one friend that Wild Geraniums (in my yard at least) have never grown outside their initial location.If anyone has had problems with it taking over a patch of yard the way that, say, Myrtle or Periwinkle have done here, maybe you could share that and I'll post your answer here in next week's blog. Now Forget-me-nots are another story.

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.

Here is a view of the back yard as seen from the upstairs bathroom. You can see the ends of the Redbud branches, the Celandine Poppies, the May Apples, the Forget-me-nots. You can also see why I'm not worried about any of those plants dying off soon. At the lower right, there is something going on in the pond. Yes, the fishes are ganging up on a couple of what I'm really sure are females. You can't see this clearly, but I'll try to get you a picture sometime today. But meanwhile, if you will click on the big picture here, maybe click twice so you can move the edges, and you might see a red oval around some little purplish-pink flowers, and THAT is the only Wild Geranium in this yard!

I couldn't wait till later. Here is a short GIF of the fishes. The female seems to be the big one, a mixture of blue and other colors. The others seem to be putting the squeeze on her. A little way into the clip, one of the males seems to peel off and chase the one that is probably the most ornate one I have, so maybe he is a she too. Enjoy!

First up among the ants: Genus Camponutus, the genus of Carpenter and/or Sugar Ants. I like their splash of red. Second is of course a Small Honey Ant, while third is an Eastern Black Carpenter Ant (check the yellowish hairs on the abdomen.

The baby Barklice persist. I don't say thrive because I don't see much growth. But they do seem a tiny bit bigger or at least better-defined. I'm pretty sure they are all Graphopsocus cruciatus nymphs, because of the dots on the thorax. First and second were from today, May 16, 2010. The third is an OLD picture from October 2019 and shows a G. cruciatus adult and a nymph that looks like ours. A little older than ours, because this third one has wings.

I didn't see much in the way of bees this past cold and rainy week. So let's see what we have in the way of beetles! Luckily, I had the little bathroom window open, and in walked a Scarlet Malachite Beetle. I hadn't seen one for a few years, so I was delighted to see it. The middle picture is the ventral (tummy) view.

The little red beetle was on the siding yesterday afternoon. One of those black Weevils - they are so small you could walk right by them. I think the third little guy is a Redbud Bruchid (or Redbud Seed Weevil). They are special because they grow up inside redbud pods and eat the baby seeds right inside. Anyway, they're the only thing I've seen out that has all these stripes!

Finally! I've seen so many little Zelus tetracanthus (Four-spurred Assassin Bug) nymphs (middle picture) for seems like months. They look so much like Z. luridus (Pale Green Assassin Bug) (pictures 1 and 3) but they tend to be green or as in this case yellow/orange and have bright red eyes, unlike the grey-brown eyes of Z. tetracanthus. Actually the camera rendered the Z. luridus as more orange than they actually looked in person, so picture 3 has been yellow-ified for truth in advertising.

The leafhoppers came out today and yesterday. They always make me smile with their lovely color patterns. First is my favorite Erasmoneura vulnerata; second is one of the Eratoneura genus, a very rich group of leafhoppers of many variations. Third looked a little like a member of the Erythridula genus, but was ID'ed as Dikrella cruentata by Kyle Kittelberger and Solomon X, a lover of word reversals, both of iNat.

This big nymph may be one of the Delphacid Planthoppers. They sometimes look like nymphs in their adult form. Second may be one of the Dirt-colored Seed Bugs but I'm not sure. Third is probably the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug and you know what that means. :-(

Crane Flies are not only very lovely graceful members of the Fly Order, but I found out yesterday that they have another kind of interestingness. Look along the body of the fly in these three pictures. While I was searching for another creature from August 2019, I found this Crane Fly which ordinarily I would have said, Oh yeah, yet another Crane Fly, so what, who cares? But then something drew my eye to the decorations on the abdomen - they looked like littler creatures. A conversation on iNat revealed that the Crane Fly was an ordinary Limoniid Crane Fly, the decorations were a kind of mite known as Parasitengona (Even Dankowicz revealed this). Then Ray Fisher identified them as members of Genus Cheiroseius (a member of Mesostigs, Order Mesostigmata). There, now you know even more than I do after all this name-calling. But to show you how things appear when they are on your mind, while I was looking for baby Barklice, I found this Thing, which I might not have taken several pictures of, and took two pictures. When I submitted it to iNat, their ID app suggested Mesostigs! This is May 15, 2020, over a year after the pictures of the Crane Fly with a bunch of Mesostigs on it. Holy Moley! Meanwhile, I sent Ray Fisher the fourth picture of a Midge with a red mite, and he ID'ed the Mite as a Water Mite of Infraorder Hydrachnidia.

A fly that I should be able to recognize by now is this little one of genus Scaptomyza.

I love this little (non-biting) midge so much for its subtle green color. Fourth is a White version.

Here come the Mosquitoes for the week. The first one was ID'ed as Genus Culex by @ospr3y (Liam Wolff)and @megsquitophd of iNat. Second and third show that Asian Rock Pool Mosquito that so resembles an Aedes Mosquito, but isn't. Its name is Ochlerotatus japonicus and it was ID'ed by Liam also.

Here are some Flies I haven't seen identified yet.

More Mystery Flies! I was snapping this fellow (picture 3) when he dived away from the camera. It turns out he escaped by falling!

Froggy, that mysterious Green Frog. I'm wondering if this really is our Froggy. He was a boy, which you can prove by looking at the size of the eye compared with that of the eardrum - the old Froggy's tympanic membrane used to be much larger than his eye. I don't think it's so easy to tell now in these recent pictures. He also used to seem larger. That could be because of his not eating so much during the winter.

While we're on the subject of Froggy, let's revisit the sad story of the toads. The day after the ingathering, I went out expecting to see some toads still in a state of bliss. But no toads in the pond. Worse, usually there will be some strands of toad eggs. Nothing. But a couple of days later, some fluffy strands that look just like American Toad egg strands (first two pictures). On Saturday this little Toad appeared in the pond, again trilling for company. None materialized and it started cooling off. I called off my plans for covering the pond with chicken wire to keep the raccoons from making havoc again. The toad eggs are no longer floating and so far as I can see into the water, tadpoles have not begun to show up. Keep tuned though.

The Harvestmen are beginning to be more evident. Here are a couple of color patterns so far.

Here is the Pillbug we usually see. Second is one that appeared this week. It was a bit smaller than the first - maybe this is a juvenile! Third is an Indigo Bunting seen by Nancy Sprandel. That's ANOTHER bird I've never seen before.

Flower Break! First, Dandelions mixed in with forget-me-nots. Next, Solomon's Seal blooming - Hummingbirds love these early treats. And third, the Weeping Redbud in front of the house is just beginning while the big old tree out back has already peaked.

These little peach-colored tulips made it through the forget-me-nots. The Money Plants are blazing purplish-pink still. Dame's Rocket sometimes gets called Spring Phlox.

Did I say it had been raining? Here are two slugs who were climbing on the Wall. First, one of genus Arion, then a possible Milky Slug.

At last for the Arachnophiles! The Common House Spiders are really common these days. And they can take on any size prey, though this one has snagged an Ant... And there seems to be another kind of prey in pictures 2 and 3...

Of course other Cobweb Spiders (yes, the Common House Spiders are Cobweb Spiders!) are the most common, it seems, of all the Spiders these days. Wait. is number 2 the Yunohamella lyrica ones again?

The Grammonota we have among us always. It's nice to have a spider that one can always recognize. But wait! Look at numbers 2 and 3. That Grammonota has a WHITE HEAD. You tricked me!

This one looks different somehow. Could it be a new neighbor? But look here: two the same? Yes, it must be the start of another cycle for the Orchard Orbweavers (Leucauge venusta)!

The Springtails were busy this week too. Most of them seem to be in the genus Entomobrya. But they seem like different species to me.

Yes, we had at least one Ichneumonid Wasp, and a mystery (number 2), which is probably a Diapriid fellow member of the Hymenoptera. Cousin Renee wanted a picture of Tripper, but just by luck I got one of my neighbor Deb and her warden Junie through the window.

This may be the beginning of the end for the primroses.

Still Socially Distanced! Yes, and doing happily whatever I feel like doing. In fact, this blog is a bit on the late end (by 1 day) because I had gotten embroiled so much in still working on that music chest for the living room. I'm still shellacking, sanding, clamping, all the steps it takes to produce even the simplest of concepts into real wood (uh, plywood). In between I found a new spot for watching little Barklice. Does this sound like your insane method of escape? Oh, yes, insane, for sure. Meanwhile I'm thinking of you all and wondering what you are doing to keep your mind sound and your love of life and friends intact. Please take care,

Love, Martha

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