August 1, 2021
Another week, much like the ones just before. Hot and humid by day, surprise showers in the night, a few trying to turn into storms. Mosquitoes still hungry, but maybe a bit less vicious.
The Fall Phlox don't know it's only mid-Summer. The Red Day Lilies are still blooming. And the Sun and Substance Hosta in the farthest corner of the front yard are so amazing. Even though their blooms are such a pale blue-violet color, almost white, they look as if they came from a book of flower fantasies.
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Our Ants avoid the steel siding of the workshop because it is so HOT. But we saw a couple of our favorites anyway. Here's an Eastern Black Carpenter, in fact two of them so you can admire the color variations in their outer "skin". Or is the second one another kind of Ant? And one Smaller Carpenter Ant.
We had one big surprise. I was sitting in my old deck chair out by the North Wall hoping to find some Barklice before the Mosquitoes managed to chase me indoors, when all of a sudden a glint of red hit my eye and when I focused on the scruffy young burdock plant (I know, I have to find out what it is!), I saw an Ant with black, brown, and red bands trotting on the leaves. It seemed to be looking for something and covered quite a bit of territory as it ran back and forth. A closer look and I saw it was actually furry and something went off in my memory - Velvet Ants! I had seen another kind out front a few years ago. When I was a kid in Virginia, I think people called them Fire Ants since they either bit or stung or their hairs were just painfully irritating. So I left them alone and they rewarded me by ignoring me while I shot picture after picture. Their real name is Myrmosa unicolor, which doesn't seem to make sense since they have at least three colors. When I looked up their range in BG and iNat, it turned out that ours is the only one reported in iNat or BG from Michigan, and there seem to be only a dozen or so in the whole U.S. My colleague Steven Wang from iNat is the one who identified this lovely creature and pointed out that as a member of "Ants and Vespoid Wasps", it is really more of a Wasp than a real Ant. I think if you want to see one, you have to be looking down at this plant and feeling as if SOMETHING amazing is near. Let me say this again - Don't try patting it.
The other cool Ant was Temnothorax curvispinosus, the "Bent-spined Acorn Ant". I had seen one two or three years ago, but this time, knowing what it probably was, it was easier to see how it got that name.
The Barklice, which have been so numerous and diverse have taken to hiding out underneath the workshop, were really hard to find in the past few days. The Ectopsocus meridionalis, which have been so active and had started laying eggs on the surface of the North Wall, have become many (much?) fewer - but their nymphs are gaining in size. Picture 2 here shows an adult fairly soon after its final moult, when it leaves its final nymphal skin. I didn't see any of them laying eggs right now.
Our old friends, the Polypsocus corruptus, which were so numerous in the past few weeks, have become less so - but still we see an adult or even a nymph every once in a while. Here are a nymph and a couple of adults. Note: the adult in picture 2 seems not to have reached her full coloration - must have moulted a short while ago. By the way, I didn't manage to find any males this week.
Last week I pointed out that most of the Graphopsocus cruciatus that we saw were adults. This week I must admit that I didn't see ANY adults, but a fair number of nymphs growing up inside their webbed-over space. Picture 2 shows us a nymph moulting from its old skin - but this moult is still incomplete - when the new instar nymph finally pulls away from the moult, it won't have that long "tail"! The third picture here shows nymphs that seem to have hatched from a set of eggs that look as if they might have been G. cruciatus eggs, but the nymphs themselves are some that I've never seen identified at this stage. But wait! The fourth picture shows some similar-looking nymphs that hatched from unknown eggs on September 23, 2020. Are we onto something?
Speaking of eggs, here is a clutch from the second panel on the North Wall. Their dark orange color doesn't look like ANY other Graphopsocus eggs I've ever seen, but of course it doesn't look like the color of any other Barklouse I've ever seen! They are also smaller than the G. cruciatus eggs we expect. The next batch of eggs seem more like G. cruciatus eggs, but the color is a little off from the pure white eggs I usually associate with them. Picture 3, taken on June 3, shows some real G. cruciatus eggs. FLASH! I was going to show you this one next week, but couldn't bear to wait. The eggs in picture 1 hatched today or last night. Now I think I can tell you what those orange-brown eggs are. Look carefully (you can enlarge picture 4 by clicking on it once or twice) at the nymphs in picture 4! Do you see the little reddish shoulder stripes? I am willing to bet on it that those are baby Polypsocus corruptus!
I have to make a confession: Last week I showed a picture of a Barklouse that I labeled as Metylophorus novaescotiae, but Diane Young thankfully caught the mistake, and says that that picture should have been called M. purus. Let me see if I can't cobble together some examples of the two species at different ages so that we can get the ID correctly in the future. I'll be working on that this coming week.
So let's look at a couple of other Barklice. First up here is, I believe, what Diane Young identified as an
Indiopsocus bisignatus adult, amazingly from almost this very date last year (July 30, 2020). Since I didn't know when I took this picture that it was NOT one of the Barklice common here, it didn't occur to me to take more shots. The only other usable photo was number 2 here. Pictures 3 and 4 show nymphs I don't recognize.
I was about to say we didn't have any Aphids, but then I remembered this little sweetie, the Woolly Aphid. I expect that by the time the Goldenrod starts to bloom, we should be seeing the un-woolly ones. In the meantime, let's see what we have in the way of Bees. I saw a couple of hints that suggested both of these kinds to be Augochlora pura, the Pure Green Sweat Bee. The first was having a snack at the Fleabane Bar, while the second was waiting for its friend on a different plant (last week).
Let's see what we have in the way of Beetles. This first one is a hold-over from last week, since it spent a few days here. It's a Checkered Beetle, Phyllobaenus pallipennis. I've now seen several Lightning Beetles, pictures 2-4 of this section. They're all probably the Common Lightning Beetle.
This Beetle looks somewhat like the Checkered Beetle in first place in the row above, but it is probably Emelinus melsheimeri, one of the Ant-like Leaf Beetles. I hope sometime to see the Male of this species - it has the most awesome antennae!
First and second, a metallic green Flea Beetle. Third is the Redbud Bruchid, a weevil that eats the seeds from inside the pods of the Redbud.
Is this a new Assassin Bug? If it is, it's new to me. It seemed to be gnawing at a piece of leftover something.
Is this another kind of Assassin Bug? (the first two are the same animal.) Third is Zelus luridus, the Pale-green Assassin Bug.
Here are some Leafhoppers. Finally, Jikradia olitoria (or Coppery Leafhopper) has grown up. Third is its younger self, as seen two weeks ago.
I do believe this Leafhopper is Scaphoideus obtusus. Next is a large leafhopper (about 1 cm long) of genus Gyponana, and the last one is Prescottia lobata.
Now for some of the other Hoppers. Here is a beautiful Planthopper, Acanalonia conica. Then our favorite Treehopper, the Two Mark one, an adult. How adult? Well, last week I found they had been laying eggs like crazy. I still don't know where the hatchlings hide out till spring when they can make friends with the Ants and so it goes, year by year.
All right, that's it for Hoppers. We still have a few Plant and other Bugs. Oh - and while we're doing outliers, here is a beautiful Alder Spittle Bug. Now the Plant Bug, a Phytocoris of course. And Another.
We also have a couple of Stink Bugs: A bright red and orange one and a brownish-orange one with lovely delicate dots. My, my, this just leaves room for the one dragonfly that let me get very close. In fact, before I took its picture, I put out my finger and it landed for a while. So this is the most friendly Dragonfly I've ever met. It must be an Autumn Meadowhawk, or maybe just a plain Meadowhawk, since it isn't very large.
Let's see what we have in the way of Fish Pictures. There is one new Fish - I believe it is the one that I used to call Stripe when it was a very young, very little fish in August 2020. It wasn't easy to see that its very pale markings would turn into anything distinctive. It must have been swimming down under the surface every time I was out there for a year now. Stripe now has very distinctive markings - as in pictures 2 and 3. There are a few other quick pictures at the end of this Blog - showing again how differently colored the various Fishes have gotten to be.
Fly time! First, here's a Fly. It just looks like what I think of as a regular fly but I've no idea what Fly it is. Too bad this is true for so many Flies. Same with the second one. Third looks a lot like the "ordinary" fly, but its stripes and color put it into genus Sarcophaga, or Flesh Eater.
The Moth Flies have the usual Fly shape #1, but they also have a lot of scales (like butterflies) on their wings and body. These three look different, but they were all identified as Bathroom Moth Flies (Clogmia albipunctata, this last part meaning "white-spotted". I had been sure that because of the variations in color and possesssion of white spots, they were all too different to be members of the same species, but at least two were identified as the same.
This one with the blue thorax, yellow abdomen and wings, and bright red eyes is called Minettia lupulina. Its shape is a little different, as the wings point more or less straight back. The next one resembles M.lupulina but seems to have a striped abdomen. I don't know a name for the third one.
Here are some more "wings point back" Flies. First is one of those Long-legged Flies. They usually leap out of the way when you try to take their picture. I think it's the flash. At any rate, this one just sat there and let me get several pictures of it. Next is that Robber Fly we have been seeing lately, Efferia aestuans.
Here is the exception that proves the rule: Calling a Fly "fly-shape 1" or "fly-shape 2" is highly artificial. This Hover Fly, Toxomerus marginatus, can hold its wings in either position!
Here are a few more little Flies just to enjoy. First is another Long-legged Fly. Third is a Bee Fly called the Tiger Bee Fly - someone probably mistook the pattern of black marks as stripes - who knows?
Let's check out the Mosquitoes. First seems to be the Asian Bush Mosquito. Then the Plains Floodwater Mosquito, Aedes trivittatus (three-striped). Some beautiful and, at the same time, sinister Mosquitoes, just happened to be engorged with probably my blood-type. I love the red abdomen and the green eyes on the fourth (Mystery) Mosquito.
Here are some small Moths. I believe the first is the Large Lace Border Moth, though I remember that as larger and less white.
We also had a Dun Skipper and the Caterpillar of a Tussock Moth.
Now is our chance to see what kind of Flowers are out there. The Fleabane was a host for that tiny green Augochlora pura bee. The Red Day Lilies are still beautiful. And the Fall Phlox is still getting more and more color.
The Horsetails are still producing spores (or whatever they produce). They don't make big showy flowers, but are still exciting to see. A little Wasp or Fly causes this superproduction of leaves on the Goldenrod plants. This supergrowth on an Oak sapling looks similar.
That little Pokeweed plant has grown ridiculously in the little space where Debbie and I share odd plants. This is the first appearance of the Poke. I believe the Celandine Poppies are finally done for but the Yellow Wood Sorrel is doing fine! The Rose Campion is down to one blossom! So is the Cranesbill Geranium! Hard to tell apart without the leaves, aren't they?
The Deptford Pink is still coming along. Sad to say, the Trumpetvine is down to just a few Trumpets. But look, while one plant is winding down, another is burgeoning. Look at the blossoms on this Sun and Substance Hosta.
Are you ready for the Spiders? You know how I love a sequence that tells a story. Well, on July 22, we saw this Spider carefully guarding her egg mass. She's still there on the 25th. But today, on July 30, the babies pour out of the eggs. Mom is still there to greet them. On the 31, Mom is gone from the picture, her life's work probably finished. Now we know how to group the adult, the egg mass and the babies.
There were a good number of Cobweb Spiders. Number 2 is a Common House Spider with a nice Beetle prey.
My favorite Jumping Spider, Naphrys pulex, showed up a few times. You know how I love a kitten lookalike. If number 3 isn't N. pulex, I could be wrong. But that cute face!
My other Spider craze is Mimetus puritanus, the Pirate Spider with the face from Halloween. One day I saw two of them, just around a corner from each other.
Here is one of the large Crab Spiders. Lest you think it is responsible for the bites taken out of this leaf, forget it. It may have even eaten the culprit!
Yes, our Spiders are good eaters. Here is one with a fresh bit of supper. Next is "what goes around, comes around". This Grass spider (the tan one) has found herself a nice Robber Fly. Third is not about eating, but just a beautiful good-sized black and white Spider.
Here we are, almost at the end. But just when I was about ready to send this out, I remembered that there was some more action in the Wasp gets Spider category!
Actually, there were a few more Wasps to admire. I got a surprise letter the other day from Eric Weitzmann, son of Carl, son of Margaret Weitzmann, one of my very best friends from Potsdam. Eric asked if I could identify this Ichneumonid Wasp, and I said probably someone on iNat could. And sure enough, someone did and verified that it is an Ichneumonid Wasp of the genus Rhyssa, which Eric had already figured out for himself. The second is another Ichneumonid Wasp - with a surprise. Look at the last leg on the right - its shadow is there but where is that leg? If you said, that was the shadow for leg #2, there IS no leg #3, you are smarter than I was. Third is a mystery, but very pretty.
Now we are almost at the end. Here are just a few more Fishes - swimming in our little gene pool. Just to show off the many lovely color combinations they have assumed since I had our first pool dug in 2006!
Short homily: It's been a long year, but the light is on at the end of the tunnel. I'll follow it if you will too! :-)
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copyright Martha O'Kennon 2021