November 7, 2021

Martha O'Kennon

Winter is a'cumin in. There are many signs of the changing seasons. But here are two that may or may not work in your house. 1) My inside front door is sticking a lot less, just like several other doors. 2) the built-in cutting board in the kitchen is beginning to close several inches further than last week. All summer it sticks out about a foot. These are the most obvious ones!

Here is Jadesy, after a couple of nights under two bath towels outside to keep her going and hopefully encouraging her to set a few buds. Although I haven't seen any flower buds yet, I have seen fewer leaf buds too, so maybe this is on the right track. Second is something called Coralberry - it's related to Snowberry but I had never seen it before, although we have quite a lot of Snowberry. Third is the actual Snowberry!

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 Ants are harder and harder to find, except for the Small Honey Ants. Here is ONE of them. There are still a few Bagworms hanging onto the Wall and sometimes inching their way along in their nice winter homes.

The Barklice are much less active. But let me tell you the good news first. They are indomitable. Here are a few batches of eggs. I still don't know what these brown ones are, but they are still sitting on the East Wall. The next batch is from Graphopsocus cruciatus. Some of them were coated with thicker webbing than usual. What do you think they are trying to tell us?

So don't worry about the G. cruciatus. They are the hardiest and most dug-in Barklice I have (as if a person can actually "have" an insect!). Here's a lovely adult, and then a nymph. The third picture was taken on November 4th, and shows that nymphs have been hatching from some of the ripest eggs!

The Valenzuela flavidus (I'm now quite sure that is the species that's doing so well on the Wall these days) are fairly numerous now. Last is one of their nymphs. The Nymphs are many fewer so I'm thinking we are seeing the slow-down time for new Adults' hatching. I'll be interested in finding their own egg masses.

These warm brown Barklice are easier to photograph now. This one was identified this week by iNat member @diliangeorgiev, a Barklouse enthusiast from Plovdiv, Bulgaria, as an Outer Barklouse (Family Ectopsocidae), with the suggestion that it might belong to the genus Ectopsocopsis (what a tongue-twister!). There may be a dozen species out there but that is not an easy color to photograph clearly. (You already are familiar with another Outer Barklouse, Ectopsocus meridionalis.) I reported last week that this second Barklouse is Teliapsocus conterminus and NOT Psocus leidyi! The third picture was identified positively by iNat's @joseph92 as Trichadenotecnum alexanderae.

The Ectopsocus meridionalis have almost disappeared, but last year they were the ones to practically bring down the curtains on the Barklice. They had many sites with collections of eggs for the new year. If you remember this spring when I was searching all the places I'd seen them in the preceding fall, it was so disappointing to watch the spring rains take down most of the large egg collections until the day an adult showed up and began the vigorous life of Ectopsocus in 2021. So don't worry, they have dug themselves in somewhere - don't miss them too much for one day in the spring of 2022 you will start to see our friends again!

Meanwhile, here is the ONE Beetle species of the week, the Asian Lady Beetle. But the other day my bedroom ceiling was playing host to a half-dozen or so of this kind. I don't see any right now, so maybe they were enticed elsewhere. Email me if you have been seeing a lot of them, with photos if possible.

Bugs, on the other hand, have been doing quite well, especially our beloved Drymus unus, the Dirt-colored Seed Bug, who showed up (picture 2) as usual just as the Goldenrod was drying up. That's when they mate for the coming months. Picture 2 seems to be a black member of the Drymus genus. I don't know its species name. Third is that Eastern Boxelder Bug we saw for a few days a couple of weeks ago. Looks as if it got into some kind of fracas, see that twisted wing?

It has been so dark and wet that not many of the Leafhoppers that are supposed to be gathering for the winter were visible this week. Here are a member of genus Balclutha; another of genus Eratoneura; and one of my very favorite Leafhoppers, Erasmoneura vulnerata.

These Pachypsylla are one of the kinds of creatures that cause galls on Hackberry.

We have been having a lot of different Crane Flies. Several of them have been identified as Winter Crane Flies. Maybe that confirms something too about the weather.

I don't know what Fly #1 is, but number 2 is probably a Fungus Gnat - look at those spiky legs!

Here are some of our Mosquitoes. They seem to be smaller and smaller as the Fall progresses. They seem to be very closely related to the Midges, don't they? First is an Asian Bush Mosquito. Another little one, this one a male. The third one is another male. If you remember last week's discussion, you probably remember that all that headgear on the males is for locating females. It certainly won't be much help with sucking blood, and they leave that to the females.

Here are a few females. THEY have the sucking mouthparts.

And you know we have had a few Midges too. By the way, the male Midges resemble the Mosquitoes by having more striking fluffy antennae too. Now can you guess which of these three Midges is a male?

Here are a few more kinds of Flies. The third one is a Woodlouse Fly. (Remember, a Woodlouse is another name for a Pillbug!)

Here we have a few kinds of Harvestmen, or Daddy-long-legs.

Here are a few Moths. The first one is very tiny, and may even be the same species as the second one. Third sat on the West Wall for days before I saw that it might not just be a speck of something. But it is actually one of the smallest Moths I've seen in a long time! It just held so flat against the wall - what a good trick!

Usually after we admire the Flies and Moths, we head out to see the Flowers. Well, Friends, the Flowers are quite scarce these days, but there is still color in the air. Here is our dear Jadesy, who has now been spending days and nights out back in hopes of setting some tiny Flower buds. Second is a close-up of a pair of leaves which are pulling apart and I'm NOT seeing any leaf buds, and hoping that this is a sign that she is waiting to develop Flower buds. Cross your fingers! In picture 3, there does seem to be a tiny red dot between this pair of leaves. Keep them crossed!

OK, now we look as hard as ever we can for ANYTHING blooming or fruiting or just turning colors! In the side yard there is a batch of rogue Oriental Bittersweet. People either admire it for its color in the waning days of Fall or they tear it out wherever they see it. It doesn't seem to be expanding its empire in this weedpatch, so shhhhh! Not far away are those lovely Coralberries. Their color seems to develop the colder it gets! Last is a little site with Climbing Fumitory. It surprised me in the spring when it came up. With any luck, next year is when it should bloom with that amazing delicate vine! (That's what we mean when we say it is biennial.)

The Bishop's Hat, or Epimedium, turns the most glorious reds and browns this time of year. The Euonymus is really ramping up its red by the front porch.

The big Maple in front of the house is almost out of leaves. Chaim has raked them to the street and in a few days Rick is going to come and collect them. The city thinks we can get all those leaves into a garbage-can for four weeks running. HA! we say. Meanwhile the Seely's Dogwood and their clone of MY Euonymus are working up their colors too.

The fleabane is slowly getting tired. Picture 3 shows the Aster seed heads. Anyone who wants some let me know!

The Bull Thistle is getting covered with leaves. The Redbud leaves are at the end of their color. Under the leaves we have a godzillion little oval creatures. I have to ask someone to identify them. You know what, I have got to go out when the leaves have fallen a bit more and see if that Praying Mantis that was mating with the headless He-man laid her eggs in that little Redbud.

The leaf net has started filling a bit with leaves. Picture 2 was taken today after I swept those leaves and more out of the pond, using a floppy fish net. The fishes are mostly very quiet, and don't come for food when they see me. Sigh.

Let's see what we have in the way of Spiders. Here's a Cellar Spider; one of the MANY Common House Spiders; and a Cobweb Spider.

We seem to have a number of kinds and colors of Sac Spiders. I'll post them now but need to try to get ID's for them. The first one reminds me of a Woodlouse Sac Spider. The Golden one less so... The third one here is not a Sac Spider, but a very pretty little Mystery.

This very pretty little Wasp has the most amazing fleshy-looking antennnae! And these strange creatures have been keeping us crazy. First is Tripper, who has staked out the high nest where the air is warmer. Then Spooky is heading my way!

We may be getting into the season where I don't find enough examples to come up with a complete weekly Blog in some months. On the other hand, there will be times when an extraordinary Spider, like the Green Long-jawed Orbweaver will appear out of the blue. Here is one of those blogs. Go take a look. There are several pictures of this beauty, my favorite of the Long-jawed Orbweavers. Hope you are all ready for a short winter and an early spring! Please keep well and interested in everything!

Love, Martha

By the way, since joining iNat in 2016, I've seen many many gorgeous or intriguing pictures from colleagues. These favorites are posted at this page. Oh. This page may take a while loading, so be patient. And please enjoy!

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copyright Martha O'Kennon 2021