March 14, 2021

Martha O'Kennon

The Winter Aconites have begun to slow down, but the Snowdrops and Early Crocus are coming into their own.

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.

This Eastern Black Carpenter seems to be feeling fine today. And a couple of days later, so do this Small Honey Ant and this really Shiny fellow, which must be one of those Steven Wang put a name (Smaller Carpenter Ant) to a couple of years ago because of their shiny skin, which is showing not a golden hair today. Its head seems a lot smaller than the EBC too.

Do you remember those Ectopsocus meridionalis Barklice that we were following last fall? First, here she is starting the third and last of her egg clutches on August 9, 2021. Second is the last shot I took of the eggs laid and so lovingly guarded by a mother on panel 8 of the North Wall, November 26, 2021. And here is how they looked on March 10, 2021. It seems that the upper clutch is already hatched (or was marauded, which I don't believe since I think the lower eggs would have been more attractive to marauders). But the next lower one is mainly unchanged from last fall. That last little clutch seems either never finished or that was it as far as the mother was concerned!

At any rate, I'm so happy to be waiting for the burst of enthusiasm those little critters expressed! Here are some other eggs, brown now, waiting to erupt into other Barklice, maybe also E. meridionalis nymphs.

And here are some little Barklice (maybe Graphopsocus or Ectopsocus genera) that seem to have just hatched yesterday or the day before. First shot: about 3:30. The second shot (about 5:30) shows them as they are separating yesterday in the late afternoon. The large mushy-looking construct on the right of the nursery in picture 2 may contain other eggs waiting to hatch too.

Bees! The first Bees are back! Well, one kind anyway. Just look for those pretty spring flowers, like these early Crocus. The Western Honey Bees are here. I love the intense look on their faces while they anticipate the first nectar of the year around here. My particular favorite is picture 2. That little bee is smiling through all the pollen on its face.

Here's a beetle that I saw in the evening of the 10th - using my cell phone as a flashlight.

Here are some Rove Beetles. They came at different days and times. So I've just called them by different letters to indicate the day and time are different. So numbers 1 and 2 are Rove d, and came at March 8 at 12:15 or so. Number 3 is Rove c, which came at 11:56 am on the 9th

One here is Rove e, which showed up on March 11 at 12:50 pm. Two and three are Rove a, which showed up on March 8 at 2:56 pm. It does seem that noon-ish is a good time to look for these. The one I labeled Rove a is Genus Anotylus, according to Boris Büche. Thanks, Boris!

One more Rove Beetle. This one also showed up on March 8. It is in genus Oxypoda, and may be O. opaca, thanks to Boris Büche. And one nice Weevil.

We're into the Bugs! At last we're getting a few of them. Here's a lovely little Damsel Bug, two views. And of course our faithful Drymus unus, still hanging around the Shop wall, probably living underneath.

That Balclutha genus Leafhopper is back. That is, it's still here. It seems every time I look, they look different. I'll tell you what looks different. This little Hopper nymph. I still haven't seen many nymphs like this, but Kyle Kittelberger says this is in the Subfamily Megophthalminae. I can't even pronounce that! The closest relative I've seen to this one is the froglike nymph of Agallia quadripunctata. Oh! I found one that looks like this puppy, namely picture 4. It does seem to be Agallia quadripunctata, but Kyle says don't go too much by pictures of nymphs. I LIKE my nymphs, no matter how hard they are to follow stage by stage. Not many people study them as they grow.

The light is coming in now so that the fish are more photogenic. Today they even listened up when I sang them their "here fishy fishy fishy" song and came over to me. I was so surprised. I sprinkled a minute amount of that yummy fish food in the can on top of the water and they shyly came over and as a few flakes started to fall slowly through the water, they shuddered in disbelief and began to dig in. We're not supposed to start feeding until the water temperature is 55 degrees, and even the air temp hasn't been that warm yet. So they didn't get many tiny flakes. Do you know what is the major ingredient in fish flakes? Maybe don't tell the fishes. OK, here is a diorama in which you can see some of the variations in the colorings of the tiniest fishes, the ones born last year. Click once or twice to enlarge the individuals in this family.

Here are a few more colorful visions of the fishes.

Here we are in the Flies. Of course, we expect a Crane Fly, a Fungus Gnat (or what I think is a Fungus Gnat), and a Midge, practically the signature Fly of this season (pre-Spring).

On the subject of Midges, these with the straight-ended abdomens, like number 1, are the Non-Biting ones. If the antennae were not fluffy, this would have been a female Non-biter. Number 2 is a female but, since I can't see the end of the abdomen, I don't know if it is a biter or not. Number 3 is a male and also has a nasty Mite on its "shoulder". Many Flies are prone to infestation with these bright-red Mites. I don't know if they will eventually begin to suffer from the results.

Let's have a few more Flower pix. First here is another Early Crocus, but slightly different in shape, including being sturdier, but still light violet. This next one is about a week and a half later than the Early! Next is another equally early Gold Crocus. Third has about the same time details, but is a richer purple than the Early, and turns out to have been an extremely easy one to propagate. I got my start from Debbie Seely next door.

Here are some more that look very different from each other until later. The Grape Hyacinths with the sprawling long leaves wake up during the winter and continue to grow their leaves so they seem to have a months-long advantage over the next ones, which are still now just little orangeish buttons, but will grow now so that their flowers won't bloom all that much later than the others. Third are some Purple Foxgloves plants, in a corner where I never planted them. Let's see when (and if) they bloom!

Now to the Spiders!

There have been several Spiders that I would call Running Crab Spiders. Their first and second arms are quite long and usually are held closely together. This gives the illusion of a Crab claw. Then the abdomen seems quite long instead of round the way most Crabs' abdomens are. Some of the ones I've seen are light or goldish in color (like number 1), while some this week have been almost brownish, like number 2. Sometimes you will see them with their legs poised as if in mid-dash.

But the other day I was rewarded when I gave one of these little fellows a tiny poke - didn't even touch it - and Zowie. There IS a reason they're called "Running Spiders"! This is only topped in my picture record by the Whirligig Mites.

We had some other Spiders this past week, including this one of genus Bassaniana (witness its heart-shaped abdomen). These first two are one kind, and the second also. I am beginning to think they are the same species, just because their face-on views look so similar.

While chasing around something very small with my flashlight, I noticed a very tiny spider clinging to a siding bolt. A colleague @jgw_atx on iNat identified it as belonging to genus Tmarus.

One last minuscule Spider. I wouldn't have seen it except for its shadow!

I hope things are working along in your progress to get the Covid vaccinations. I finished mine about a month ago, and last weekend went to get a pick-up (take-out) package of the Ribs I used to enjoy with Susan. They were nowhere near so delicious as the memory. I'm still doing PT to get some strength back and I believe it is working. This afternoon I may put on my double mask and go to our local grocery, first time in more than a year! I hope life is opening out for you too. But please be careful for a while more. I love you all, I really do.

Love, Martha

OH. I meant to show you some of the latest color-modulated pictures!

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