May 2, 2021

Martha O'Kennon

Forget-me-nots are now mounding up all over the place. Primroses of many colors have also opened up all along the front sidewalk. Many Tulips have moved from their former place by the sidewalk to a place that needed the color!

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.

Now that it's warm some of the time (today is supposed to be in the 70's, though yesterday barely got into the mid-50's) the ants are more active. Strangely, the most common Ant in this yard, the Small Honey Ant, was sort of elbowed out by other Ants, but this first one is probably a Small Honey, though it is so dark you can barely make out the pointy gaster. The most common one for this week was the Smaller Carpenter Ant (picture 2), which is shiny and has a good deal of red on its thorax.

There were plenty of Eastern Black Carpenter Ants,too. They are usually dull black with some golden hairs (setae) coming out of their gasters, as in picture 1. So I had to submit this second one to iNat to see if it was a different species, but no, even with all the glowing stripes, it was still an Eastern Black Carpenter.

This Ant is the Odorous House Ant. It has a slender longish gaster.

We were in luck. Even though the temperature dipped under freezing for a while, the cute little Barklouse nymphs survived the week. On the East Wall, from panel 8 to 2 from the north end of the wall, had one or more little guys. First is a nymph and the skin it came out from when it hatched, on panel 5 from north on April 25th. Then on panel 8 from north, you can see this one is a few days old - look at the tiny wings developing. Third is a couple of nymphs from east 6 from north taken on April 30. One of them is also showing some wing development.

On panel 4 from north, the batch of eggs covered in a brownish protective or nutritive layer are apparently their overwinter snooze and haven't got any closer to hatching than when I first saw them more than a month ago. I'm eager to see them hatch - partly to feel relief and partly to see if we can't tell what species they might be. Two quite different (in appearance) clutches of eggs on (picture 2)panel 9 from north and (picture 3) panel 1 from north (almost the east-north corner) is similarly unchanged externally. Same for the furry-looking set of separate eggs on the east end of the South Wall. I'm hoping that we will a) see that the four different sets of eggs give rise to four different species of Barklice and b) be able to predict what the form of the eggs means for the hopeful young nymphs.

On the North Wall, where we had such fun with the Ectopsocus meridionalis last fall, even though that Wall took such a beating from the March rain and cold, we can still see some hopeful signs of Something getting ready to hatch. Pictures 1 and 2 show a large batch of crystals or other shapes, some of which look more like nymph-shaped creatures. Picture 3 seems to contain an element shaped somewhat like a light bulb with a red band and purple above that.

May Day! On May 1, the first adult G. cruciatus showed up for me at 11:22 am. The next pictures were taken at 12:29. You can see the spent skin in some.

So we have a lot to hope for in the Barklouse groups. Let's move on to the Bugs. Usually I start with Zelus luridus, the green Assassin Bug with the red eyes, and then move on to the later-arriving Z. tetracanthus, which is brownish-grey with grey eyes. This year I started seeing Z. tetracanthus a few weeks ago, and only a couple of days ago finally saw our first Z. luridus - not where you expect to see it, on the Wall or on a plant, but in Tripper's water dish. I know - I was unhappy to see this pretty green thing floating in the water. Maybe it got into the house somehow and was attracted to the water - Critters gotta drink too, but by the time I found it, it was already dead. Then - bad luck on bad luck - the Z. tetracanthus we saw the other day on the Wall on April 27 in a lovely defensive position was still there but being wrapped by a spider.

A lovely red Beetle with brown wings turned out to be a Sap-feeding Beetle of the Family Nitidulidae. Next, we had a Redbud Seed Weevil. Before I got my lovely camera all I could see most of the time of this Weevil was a blur of colors but now we can see how neatly all those stripes go together to make their owner quite beautiful. Third, yesterday I was marveling that the Tiger Lilies came up this year after their ravaging by the Lily Leaf Beetles, and right in front of me saw one of said Beetles. If ANYONE knows a remedy for these monstrous creatures, please let me know!

On to Bugs. First I imagine you recognize after seeing it three weeks in a row, but it is the White-margined Burrower Bug. Then on to the Leafhoppers. First seems to be in the genus Agallia, and probably Agallia quadripunctata. Its nymph usually presents before the adult (no kidding?) and looks somewhat froglike! Third is Erasmoneura vulnerata, one of the really pretty Leafhoppers!

We then had a few members of the genus Erythridula.

We had one more Leafhopper, a member of Tribe Empoascini (a lot of nondescript bugs). And then, suddenly this morning a lovely Erythridula noeva, and then a Stink Bug, unknown (to me) but what a look on that face!

On to the Fishes. Well, yesterday April 29 was the first day the fishes started to feel frisky. They mated all day, the males chasing Chica, the big mostly blue female, around and around. She must have laid a lot of eggs. I wonder how many of them will make it to baby fishdom. The Alpha Males seem to be three of the redder ones. There is also a brown one that is harder to see. But when the clip ends (just before the hoses show up again) you might see the brown one either being nudged by the Alphas, or inserting himself into the fray.

Lots of pretty flies. We start out with the Crane Flies.

This first fly (pictures 1 and 2) is in the Family Asteiidae. Third is a real mystery.

These Fungus Gnats are mating of course.

This attractive Fly apparently used to be called the Love Bug in the southeastern US. It's really a March Fly that usually waits till May to show up here.

These two beautiful Midges were found not far from one another. The first two show a female and the third a male. I don't know if they are close enough to call a species.

Another handsome Midge; a non-biting Midge; and a big beautiful blue Fly. Fourth is probably some kind of Root-Maggot Fly.

Here are some more of those Leaf-miner Moths. First is in genus Phyllorycter. The second is a puzzle. How did a a lovely thing like this Leaf-miner Moth (of genus Caloptilia, picture 3) get into this position?

Here is another Moth, which I haven't ID'ed yet.

Here is where we traditionally take a nice path through the flowers. We don't have great masses of flowers, but have a lot of variety of color, size, habit, etc., that look good next to each other. Solomon's Seal is a lovely green plant with little flowers hanging like bells. (That must be what calls the hummingbirds to them.) The primroses bloom in lots of colors: here are a white one (with a red interloper behind) and a rose one.

They also come in Yellow, Pale Pink, and Mauve. The Mauve live in the back yard and are only just starting to bloom there this year so this picture was borrowed from last year's.

Then there are a few Tulips. Here are a fancy little one, a tall yellow-green one blooming next to the Wild Geraniums, and the red ones that at least bloom wherever they like.

The Virginia Bluebells are in full bloom now, and the Forget-me-nots are closing in. The Japonica is over and the Wild Geraniums, which only bloom for a short time, are in about as much of a prime as they can manage.

But the best is coming. The Trilliums that I planted so long ago are still alive in the back end of the garden! Without my tender ministrations the Tall Yellow one has split into two (picture 1). Next, the red Trillium inside the wire-enclosed bed and last, the short ones around the big tree.

There were so many different Spiders this week. First, the Common House Spider. It appears in so many pictures, that must be why it's called "Common". Next, a Cobweb Spider, another most frequently seen group of Spiders. Third is another Cobweb Spider.

Here is another Cobwebber with what looks like a cloud of silk. Next, a Running Crab Spider which was running across the hood of my car. I thought number 3 was a new Cobwebber but now I'm practically sure it's a baby Harvestman (Daddy-long-legs).

Here we have a Garden Ghost Spider. It was running around the edge of the pond. Next is one of my favorite Jumping Spiders, Naphrys pulex, or Flea Jumping Spider. Then, a greenish spider wrapping up the Assassin Bug Zelus tetracanthus.

Here is an animation of a Common House Spider wrapping up its prey. The second and third still shots show a Spider wrapping a Carpet Beetle for later lunching.

Yesterday my neighbors Dustin and Nicole Vaughn came by with a Spider I didn't recognize. It turned out to be a Woodlouse (pillbug) Spider. But the prize for weirdest Spider is this Horned Parasitic Cobweaver, a Spider that packs itself into a three-cornered form that makes its already tiny size almost invisible.

One last Spider. This character was rapelling down the South side of the shop and I got only this one shot before it let go and dropped out of sight. The bright red streak that had attracted my notice managed to smear itself over the spider in this only picture I got of it. And one last piquing critter. If I put "fly-wasp" in the picture title, it means I know nothing. Nothing! But Susanna Hewitt of iNat suggested it might be a Scale insect. I didn't even know Scale insects had males that can fly! But among the photos of Scale Insects there actually were a few with flying forms that resemble my picture. These things are truly almost invisible, about 1/2 mm long.

Let's check out the flowers along the front sidewalk before they are all gone.

The new Hellebore leaves are thrusting themselves up in the plant's center. The primrose path heads north. And here are the front walk Flowers.

OK, I'll give you the correct quotation: "Every one of us has all we need". What's the song?

Well, another week into Sprummer. Every day I see something so amazing I wonder how many other surprises will there be? Something so small and perfect it just can't exist - and yet it does. I hope you also have time to discover more things than YOU ever thought possible. It's out there. Or maybe it's inside you.. Just look! Until next week,

Love, Martha

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copyright Martha O'Kennon 2021