December 5, 2021

Martha O'Kennon

Like last week, we had everywhere from less than zero F to the 50's F. What confusing weather - it must be Fall in Michigan! Yesterday we had a few more grains of that "little balls"-type snow. Spooky has been particularly distressed, since she likes to have her meals outside with no interruption, and now she can't. On one of those nights, it was already 31 F (less than 0 C). I went out to restore the towels on Jadesy, and she felt so cold that I brought her indoors. I think she is surviving, but our experiment failed this year! Pity won out! (Pictures to follow. :-)

Not too long after I replaced the leaf net for the second time, The pond began to fill with ice. Not too many leaves remained on top of the net and almost none on the trees, so I endeavored to pull the net out of the pond for the last time. I pulled starting at the edge closest to the house (western side) and then continued pulling to the eastern side, giving up when it stretched past the pond to the east. But it was SOOOOO full of leaves and ICE that it was clear that I wasn't going to get it all the way out. Fortunately, Chaim loves a challenge and soon had that huge lump of net, leaves and ice out of the pond (picture 2) and up on the deck.

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.

Of course as soon as that was done, the next day saw dawned with very little ice on it but a new layer in the forecast. This was the part of the year I always look forward to. I'd used waterproof electrical tape to join an extension cord to a new little floating heater (remember last year's folded on practically the maximum day it was supposed to last), and did hope that tape would keep the heater from shorting out in the pond. To my delight as soon as I lowered it into the pond, it began to bubble on the outward edge, meaning it was busily melting a bit of ice on the boundary of heater and ice. Not too much later, we had this wondrous view. Here you see the fishes down near the bottom of the pond.

Again, all the ants we meet are the Small Honey Ants, looking for any food bits they might be able to store for the winter down under the Shop.

Let's look at the Bagworms. The last shot I got of one was on November 16, 2021. But on December 3 I saw this new case.

Let's look at the Barklice. Like last week, most adults and nymphs were Graphopsocus cruciatus, as have been the unhatched eggs.

On East panel 7 we have been watching these brown straw-covered eggs. These pictures are from October 18, November 1, and December 4, 2021. We get the impression that as the eggs develop, they seem to separate from each other, and hope eventually to see them hatch so that we can figure out their species. Especially for the last batch, even though I didn't match the colors enought, you can practically see a couple of nymphs on the right-hand side.

Here is that brownish Large-winged Psocid that we missed seeing last week. Next is the seeming Echmepteryx adult. Last week we thought it was shedding oval eggs in the same place.

So the Barklice are lying low these days. And Beetles are really hiding out too. But I think this creature is one of those roundish Flea Beetles. Here are three upside-down shots of it.

The Bugs weren't much more in evidence. We did have this Eastern Boxelder Bug (note - it has the same wing damage as the others we've seen, so maybe we only have ONE), and this Drymus unus. Third is a Drymus crassus. People are recognizing them more and more.

Even though we haven't seen one of those tender-skinned Zelus luridus Assassin Bugs, on December 4 I spotted what seems to be a Damsel Bug. (Double-click on it to see it better.) They're both broadly Assassin Bugs. We saw this lovely Erasmoneura vulnerata leafhopper a couple of days ago. The next one looks like a Leafhopper, but seems a bit dead-ish. This last one is probably the dead Erythridula we saw last week. If they really overwinter as living adults, I wonder where that is.

I do believe that these next two are not Leafhoppers at all, but probably Hackberry Gall Psyllids, or genus Pachypsylla. And that seems to close out our True Bugs section.

The morning of December 4, I took as many pictures that might turn out to be interesting, and when I cropped this first one, I was shocked to see that it seemed to be a case containing some very interesting hatchlings. If you will start at the top right of this configuration, and go about half-way down that edge, you will see a very small creature - it does seem to have 6 legs on its all-grey body. But all up and down that edge there are quite a few more similar-sized creatures but not showing the distinct insect-like leg number. I've never seen one of these. As soon as I got to this place in my cropping I hurried back to the shop wall, and quickly found the place I'd seen the first one, took about 10 more pictures from different angles, but they didn't add much to the information gleaned from the first picture. I've got to submit this family to iNat and get back to you!

Here is a Crane Fly, probably what they call a Winter Crane Fly. From afar the second one looks like another Crane Fly, but click it to see what looks like an armful of eggs. Picture 3 MIGHT be the same as picture 2. At least it seems to be carrying eggs? on its shoulders.


I'm not great at these little flies, which might be Midges or Fungus Gnats. But we now know they are out there. How can something so small survive the current temperatures? I'll tell you something I haven't seen lately - MOSQUITOES!


Here is a very cute little Fly, two shots. And that was about it for the Flies. Third is a Harvestman, venturing out to catch a little of that sudden 45 degree weather.

Here are an oddment of creatures. First: if this were summer, I would think this was a Planthopper Nymph. But it isn't summer. The ID app called number 2 an Isopod (related to Pillbugs). Number 3 looks like a lump of green jelly. Number 4 looks like the nursery for things like those little reddish bumps on the left of the top sheet.

I didn't see ANY Spiders this week. But on the deck siding there was a structure that someone told me once were the eggs of a Euryopis Spider. Let me see if I can't find a picture of Euryopis. Yes! Here are one from June 26, 2021 and another from September 14, 2020. Here is an observation from iNat in which two Spider experts discuss Euryopis, its egg mass, and that the adults will be Ant Eaters. This is what I really value re iNat. Human beings discussing our fellow creatures with respect and knowledge and willingness to share that knowledge. Thanks Lottery Discountz and Jeremy Hussell! Oh, by the way, today I looked through my Euryopis pictures and lo and behold, I found this Euryopis funebris with its mouth clamped onto a small Ant in June this year! It's good to go back through your pictures and writings about a creature and start to put it together!

Here are a Wasp from December 2, and a similar-seeming other Wasp from December 4 (two shots). I was so surprised to see that the last two pictures were as good as they were.

To continue cheering us up, here are some views of the Pond since getting the leaf net stowed. away. The first is of the Lily plantings, showing us the top view of the Lily Leaves as well as the actual Lily Boxes at the bottom of the Pond. You can't really see the bottom so well when the Pond is full of particles (algae, dust, etc) that result from Fishes eating, etc. Ironic, isn't it?

Here are some of the fishes, seemingly swimming in the big black tree. And the view we started with, of the deep end of the Pond.

Do you remember the lily plants that had all died but one? Now that the water is clearer, we were able to spot that little start of a plant, just outside the cage it was supposed to be in. I lifted it with a net and replaced it. Sure enough, that little plant still exists, and I was able to get a photo! I think I will try to replace some of the potting soil that was supposed to be around it.

Today we have the official Latke lunch with the Kalamazoo cousins. We even bought a new food processor, since the other way to grate the potatoes is with a grater, and blood is not on the list of approved foods. This will be the first time we've shared the actual house with anyone for the last two years. I hope you have been able to entertain folks more as time has gone by. Anyway, the cats will be in hog heaven when they discover that we also have a rotissery Chicken and there will be leftovers with their (the cats') names on them (the scraps). So for now,

Love, Martha

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