May 24, 2020

Martha O'Kennon

The early spring flowers are pretty much over. Now the mid-spring flowers and other ornamental plants come into their season. The Lily of the Valley surprises one underfoot. It spreads everywhere and now is moving toward the gate and out of the back yard. We have to look through the other beginning greenery to see Jack in the Pulpit. A few days ago the Dame's Rocket was in tight buds and has yesterday or today begun to bloom. A lot of people think Dame's Rocket is simply Spring Phlox - it isn't - but who cares, they look so similar that it might as well be called that proudly.

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.

As the yard gets greener, we now start to see many of our little denizens pictured on GREENERY. It cheers me no end to see that little color behind the picture. The Ants, which all winter have only been seen on the Wall of Fame, now often appear on the growing plants. The Small Honey Ant wanders on all sorts of plants, here on a Maple leaf. Second, an Eastern Black Carpenter Ant runs along an Oak stem. Third, an Ant of the genus Camponotus of Carpenter and/or Sugar Ants, but we don't know its species.

We actually had two new Ants this week. This first one looked grey while I was shooting it, but appeared red while I was cropping it. Hmmm. It's a member of the Citronella Ants, of genus Lasius. Pretty, isn't it? The second I believe is the Bearded Carpenter Ant, Camponotus subbarbatus. Well, Steven Wang of iNat explained that while it MAY be the Bearded One, it is certainly in the subfamily Myrmentoma.

The Barklice are coming back. I now have two playgrounds. One, on the East side of the Wall of Fame, seems to be a family of nymphs of Graphocephala cruciatus. I've been watching them for a few weeks and seeing them grow from wingless little creatures, then start to grown their wings more and more. Here are some of this week's. First, from May 20; Second, from May 21; and third, a stretch model. (I went out a few hours after that one had moulted from the skin and its "neck" seemed less stretched.)

But the real excitement of the week was when, on May 17, I discovered that the North wall, which had had a lot of nymphs last fall, suddenly came alive with little nymphs, almost invisible. When I was finally able to guess that a certain little dot was a nymph, I would draw a circle around it. Here are nymphs of May 17 (picture 1 shows it uncropped and picture 2 shows it cropped and enlarged) and May 22. I am so curious as to what it might be. We will have to wait and watch, wait and watch.

That Forget-me-not loves bees and Honey Bees love it right back (first two pictures). Ditto for the mystery Bee in picture 3. But the sinister-looking bee in picture 4 loves her Celandine Poppy. Actually, that was also some stare from the Honey in picture 1. Try clicking on those two faces! In particular, are those FANGS on the Bee in the Poppy?

Beetles are becoming more frequent. First here is a Carpet Beetle. Then what might be a Click Beetle. Then a mystery Beetle and another Mystery Beetle, this last one with toothy-looking antennae. I am about to send these last three treasures to iNat for ID.

This first Beetle is a Two-lined Leatherwing, Atalantycha bilineata. Then two Weevils, the Redbud Bruchid and a light-brown long-nosed Weevil.

Ah, even the Zelus luridus looks cool in the Goldenrod. This one already has a start on its wings (click to see). Second is a tiny nymph of a Four-lined Plant Bug - those little guys can wipe out a plant so fast! Last year I had to manually remove many from my favorite Thistle. Ouch. Then a Stink Bug in - guess what?. Fourth is a Damsel Bug, and probably a Tree Damsel Bug.

We had a few Leafhoppers: first, genus Erythridula; then, Erythroneura infuscata; and last, another member of genus Erasmoneura, but it had the bad fortune to be clinging to the Wall when the monsoon rain came for a couple of days (that's why the wings are askew).

iNat's ID app called this little green caterpillar a Geometer Moth larva (inchworm). So let's see a couple of other Moth larvae. Number 2 is a Leaf Blotch Miner in genus Phyllonorycter. Number 3 is an Aster Tentiform Blotchminer, Acrocercops astericola. I asked Charley Eiseman about this one, not remembering that I'd had this one identified on BG from a picture dated May 2015. Who doesn't remember 2015?

Two Crane Flies. First is another of those genus Limonia ones; second is that Huge Crane Fly, which seems to have some kind of prey in its mouth.

Midges. They may be the most common thing on the Wall in the Winter and Spring, but some are extremely attractive! The fourth one is a dead Midge of a couple possible kinds, and the Mite is probably a Water Mite of the Infraorder Hydrachnidia. There are other possibilities, explained Bruce Smith (Professor Emeritus) of iNat, but that would mean catching the mite and examining it under a microscope.

Mosquitoes. First is a male Asian Rock Pool Mosquito. Second is the female. What's the difference? Third is a Fly that looks like so many other Flies. I sent in a godzillion of these in the past couple of months!

Just a few more Flies. First is a Thick-headed Fly, genus Myopa, ID'ed by Even Dankowicz. Then a Root-Maggot Fly (I always call a Fly with a yellow glow under the wings that). Third: Snipe season is on. Gather the Boy Scouts.

I only took one Fish picture this week (you got the thrill last week) - they must have finished mating that one day. Now I'm trying finally to get the algae under control and the pond is kind of brown. But here's the one picture. The one that is red and black (in the foreground) was a baby we have been watching on and off all spring. Now Froggy - I got a lot of pictures of him or her - trying hard to figure out which. Miss Froggy seems smaller and with Eye bigger than Eardrum - check picture 2. While in picture 3, Mr. Froggy seems bigger and maler. Either there are two Froggies or Mr. Froggy needs to eat more to make up for all the food he didn't eat while in hibernation. The contest is still on, but I'm leaning one way.

Here's a baby Harvestman. And another mystery. I found this odd little creature (picture 2) on the Wild Ginger the other day. Then yesterday (May 22) THIS little thing (picture 3) was in the Goldenrod. When I submitted the later one the ID app suggested Torpedo Bug, which would make this thing the nymph of a Planthopper. But it is NOT the nymph of a Torpedo Bug! So we are on hold with this one for a while!

I think it's time for some more nice Flowers. First is a Columbine that always surprises me in the Spring. This is the first day it has begun to bloom. Next is the Forget-me-Not in one of its huge cushions of blue. Third is the Jack-in-the-Pulpit that Debby Seely found at the Nature Center. I thought at first that this brilliant striped variety was a different species from the all-green one in my yard.

The Primroses are still blooming a bit. Here's the white one. The Celandine Poppy (or Golden Wood Poppy) is still huge but the number of flowers is falling. And here's the little peach-colored tulip in the Forget-me-Nots.

Oh, My Dears, I do believe we've reached the Spiders. What little jewels they are with all their color combinations and personalities. First is a Common House Spider, wrapping an ant (I think) into a nice sandwich. I don't really like Wraps, but CHS do. The Cobwebbers have now made a veritable Fashion runway with all their different patterns. Spider #2 is showing how much they also like Wraps. This last one makes me wish for my beloved Mimetus Puritanus with their mask-like abdominal patterns.

Couldn't go through a weekend without admiring a nice Grammonota! It's followed by a possible cobwebber, but this one seems like a Ballet dancer with its long lithe limbs.

The Horned Parasitic Cobweavers continued to be multi-represented. I love the way they act as those transformers, one time looking like a trigonal package of orange, and the next opening up to prey on another creature. Did you get the way I cried those Alligator Tears for my beloved Mimetus puritanus? Well, this week we had TWO of them on opposite walls.

We also had a lovely assortment of Jumping Spiders. Jeremy Hussell identified it as a Four-lined Slender Jumping Spider (Marpissa lineata).

Another lovely little Jumper. Great use of colors and form. @salticidude at iNat identified it as a Common White-cheeked Jumping Spider (Pelegrina proterva).

One of my favorite Jumpers is Naphrys pulex - or, as they say, "Flea Jumping Spider". Their furry pattern is so classic.

Lucky us. We had a couple of different kinds of Ichneumonid Wasps. So far I'm calling them (pictures 1 and 2) Ichneumonid Wasp Type A and (picture 3) Ichneumonid Wasp Type B. No wait, @Jonathan142 (Jonathan Hoskins) of iNat just identified type A as Aritranis director.

This first (and second) wasp is a Hover Fly Parasitoid Wasp, subfamily Diplazontinae. It also was ID'd by Jonathan Hoskins of iNat. The second is some kind of Sawfly. It's really pretty up close. Of course, I remember in Potsdam, NY, where we used to live - we had a beautiful Mountain Ash tree, but every year the Mountain Ash Sawfly larvae set to work, sitting on the leaflets of each leaf as if on a picnic table (how apt), and weakening the tree so that it NEVER got to the stage of developing those beautiful red berries. Sigh. Still, this one is pretty, which is as pretty does.

This has already been a long quarantine. I hope you, like me, have a secret place to go and feel healthy and look forward to a few surprises every day. It might not be a garden cum wildlife habitat. It might be a place in your imagination. It might be a friend on the phone or on Zoom. Whatever it is, I hope it can sustain you for however many more months (or shhhh longer, but we hope not). Take care, friends, and

Love, Martha

A few morphings of the Columbine picture:

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copyright Martha O'Kennon 2020