January 17, 2021

Martha O'Kennon

It's been, I hear, the mildest first two weeks of the year in several years. Not warm enough for new bugs to sprout everywhere, but just right for the Gall Wasps. And the plant life wasn't dull either.. The Hellebore and Epimedium are still bright, just as they were in the beginning of the fall. Jadesy seems to have grown since coming indoors. And the Seelys' Dogwood tree is covered with these huge red berries. I wonder when the buds are supposed to have formed. There will be a surprise a little later.

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.

After disappearing from the Wall a few weeks ago, the Small Honey Ants are out there today. It was warm enough that I could go out in a flannel shirt (no heavy coat!) and they must have felt the difference too.

The Graphopsocus cruciatus Barklice were socked in most days, but today they were out sunning themselves. The third one seems to be about to take off.

Those G. cruciatus that we just saw are the only Barklice I saw in this two-week period. But you'll be happy to know that they are expecting spring - several groups of eggs are to be seen as you walk around the Wall, many at eye level. First is the clutch on the South Wall, then the North Wall clutch under the air conditioner. Third seems to have been laid in a bed of soil, but I'm not sure that was the idea. I'm not sure where I saw this clutch of four eggs!

On Friday the 15 (it could have been worse if Friday had changed places with Wednesday) I was surprised when this Barklouse, which looks like one of the Valenzuela (maybe V. flavidus or maybe V. pinicola), showed up suddenly on the East Wall, the last place I'd seen it.

The newly dug pond is so deep it's hard to get a good photo of the fishes but here's what happens when a drop of water hits the top of the pond (there's a fish in the center of the ring). You can click on picture 2 to see one possible solution to the question, how many fish in this picture? Picture 3 shows that the red ones can't hide! The fishes' little metabolisms have shut down pretty effectively, which is good since I haven't been feeding them for several months now.

After a fair hiatus, there were a few Flies out there this week. First, a Midge. Then a Mystery Fly scrambling up the Wall just out of range but making lovely iridescences.

This tiny Fly was about the size of a Gall Wasp. In fact I thought I was shooting a Gall Wasp until I peeked at these pictures. Nope, a Fly. Last, what looks like a deceased black Fly or Wasp that was also way out of range!

Good news. On Friday morning, while I still thought that was it for the Flies this week, this lovely specimen, which is probably only a Fungus Gnat of some sort, appeared briefly on the East Wall.

Yesterday even brought out three Harvestmen, evenly spaced around the base of the shop siding.

A tiny looper.

Our favorite Green Long-jawed Orbweaver stayed around for over a week. Here it is on January 3rd, 4th, and 5th.

Continued, the Green Queen on the 6th, 7th and 8th of January, 2021.

In case you are marveling at this gorgeous Spider's ability to sit around for so long with nothing to eat, look more closely. Here she is on the 4th. To the left of her legs is a white thing that I believe may be the nymphal skin of a Barklouse. That or the skin of some other small creature. Similarly, on the 7th, we see to the right of the mouth of the spider, a couple of small leftovers. And between the legs what seems to be a small insect or other edible. And on the 8th, quite a lot of leftovers...

Another Spider seen inside the air conditioner from the window. Seems to be a dead some kind of Spider. Another Mystery creature high above the shop door. Third looked to me like a large droplet-shaped Seed of something!

A very strange Mystery creature or group of creatures. A very strange batch of eggs? A very interesting group of seeds? eggs?

Most days I see 1 to 3 Gall Wasps on the Wall. These are tiny wingless Wasps that will lay their eggs into plant tissue in the Spring. The developing Wasp Larvae will cause aberrations (called Galls) in the plant tissue. In general the Galls don't hurt the plant overly, and some are rather pretty. Picture 3 shows a Lobed Oak Gall caused by the Gall Wasp, Andricus quercusstrobilanus. Of course, they can get out of hand. (In fact, I have some (of a different kind) on my Goldenrod that spread a lot this past year.)

Here is one of the little guys. I just love to watch them walk.

Right on schedule, one of the harbingers of Spring, but that isn't why they are called Springtails. They also don't have springs in their tails, I'd bet. By the way, in picture 3, that may be a very young Barklouse nymph off to the lower right.

And one last creature. Now that Spooky is allowed outdoors for short times, I figure she is one of the community. Oh, all right. Even though Tripper does not go outdoors, she does express her opinion of the way the house is run. Yesterday I found a function that will calculate your cat's age in people years, and found that the two cats and I are just about the same age! That is,somewhere between 15 and 16 years.

Oh! Right on time, the Seely snowdrops are up!

I discovered last week that if I call my Doctor's number, a recording would tell me, "No vaccine has arrived." I was still convinced that sooner or later, the office would call and set up an appointment for a vaccination. But yesterday I read in the Washington Post, that the President-for-three-more-days hadn't told us that he hadn't ordered enough vaccine to even get us a first dose. I'm trying to tell myself that this is just one more mental hurdle to get through. Who knows who will find some vaccine for us old folks, and then the rest of us? Who knows? I have determined to keep breathing. At night I practice making my chest go up and down, up and down. It helps! Love to you all, we really are all in this together! And always will be!

Love, Martha

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copyright Martha O'Kennon 2021