April 17, 2022

Martha O'Kennon

What a week. We sometimes forget that the Early Spring includes March and April. March stood for wind: On nice weekends I used to carry a sack of kites down a path which doesn't exist anymore thanks to expansion of the Football Field. There I could pick one of those kites that seemed to be better built for the wind du jour. I would spend a couple of hours watching my kite carry out astral projection, as my old friend Susan Meyer used to call it. I could believe that it was me myself swooping and diving and swooping. The winds now seem to do their stuff into April, which used to be known for its rains. The crocuses are winding down after a glorious season. The winter aconites are gone. No more snowdrops. The Squills are enjoying their field day.. I haven't yet begun to hear the mating song of the local cats, whence our Spooky came to be. IF you want to see and hear the wind in that big old Blue Spruce in my yard, doubleclick on this picture. Don't worry, it will stop.

Here is that easy-spread purple Crocus. Next are the Squills that I meet at the corner of Walls South and East. And our first perennial of the season: this Pulmonaria has its first buds.

The Ant show is slowly starting. Here is one of our beloved Winter Ants, and then a black Carpenter and Sugar Ant. I was thinking of the Eastern Black Carpenter Ant, but the ID app on iNat gave Carpenter Sunbream because I had labeled it Carpenter. The last one was ID'ed by the ID app as Black Dwarf Spider. I wonder if it comes from a Black Dwarf star? Actually it looks as if it has some Grammonota Gold around its buttsky...

That brown "straw"ish structure (picture 1, April 15) is looking less and less like a Barklouse. Progress seems to be at a crawl, but this is so clearly a slow show. Picture 2 shows the scene on April 17, 2022.

The Barklouse egg mass that I discovered tearing open a few weeks ago (March 15, picture 1) is slowly (thanks to the cool weather) opening and the nymphs are (March 30, 2022,picture 2) solidifying somewhat. Picture 3 shows a shot from April 17, 2022. Look at the subtle change in the details over this two weeks.

Well, I've been watching the Barklouse "nests" on the East Wall for quite a while. I just decided yesterday to mark the various nests with letters starting with "a". Here's an example of following nest "r" on April 14, 15, and 16. I'm guessing that the tiny white objects on the egg mass may be turning into the very small nymphs in the picture.

Maybe that's enough of Barklice for now. How about some Beetles? This first one is the Margined Carrion Beetle (Oiceoptoma noveboracense). Apparently they are (as their name implies) Nature's little dead creature disposers. This one was on my deck floor. Wonder who it had been cleaning up. Number 2 shows a tiny green-blue Flea Beetle on my arm while I was shooting it with the other hand. The third one is a small Weevil called Lechriops oculatus. The huge detail around the eyes shows up in its name (oculatus).

Now for a few Bugs. Another find on the deck floor: Acanthocephala terminalis, easy to identify by the bright orange antenna tips. Second is a Damsel Bug, Nabis roseipennis. Although we usually think of a damsel's sweet nature, the Damsel Bugs enjoy eating other small creatures. Next is a Leafhopper of genus Eratoneura, followed by a Mystery: I am thinking it may be a Psylloid, a relative of the Psyllids. I'm going to submit it to Bugguide.net for an ID.

Well, how about a few flies? The ONE thing that seems to be happening out in the yard is the sudden onslaught of flies. Number 1 shows a large Muscoid Fly. Apparently "Muscoid" means something like "looks like a housefly". The next two are a slightly different shape, but I would say they look like Flies. These all look similar, but are actually different species. There are just so many flies in this world. Each just a tad different. Of course, in many creatures there are differences you can't tell with a camera - you need a dissecting kit.

The Midges look a lot like Mosquitoes. But the female Mosquito has a long snorkel for drawing blood. Here are the Mosquitoes I think we had this week. (Hint: A few Mosquitoes have lovely green eyes.) Picture 3 has fluffy antennae, saying if it is either a Midge or a Mosquito, it is a male.

Here are a few Midges. Or maybe the third one is a Fungus Gnat. Hmmm.

Here's a trick for distinguishing a Midge from a Fungus Gnat. Of the Midges I've ever looked at closely, I don't think any of them have had thorns coming out of their leg joints. But MANY of the Fungus Gnats do.

Here are just a few more Flies. There will be many more soon! You know, this first one looks as if it could be a Sawfly, which is not a real Fly.

Actually, Flies are supposed to come after Fishes, but what the heck - here are a few of the Fish family, gathering to see if my talking softly to them means food is on its way. Yes, I have started feeding them a small amount. I still don't want to overfeed them with the water temperature as variable as it is.

Another treat has transpired. The other day I was looking over to the slide I put in so that the Frogs could easily get out of the pond. There were two of last year's friends! Picture 1 shows them fairly far apart. Next you see Froggy 1 and then Froggy 2. Since it got cooler again after this unveiling (they tend to spend their winters at the bottom of the pond), I haven't seen them for a few days!

Let's take a stroll through the flowers. Here we see the easy-spread Crocus; the Purple Hellebore with its flowers being lifted through the air; the delicate blue Grape Hyacinths and one of the two blooming Tiny Daffodils.

Here are the Japonica (Japanese Quince) buds. These things are very hard to photograph in the air. I have to put my hand behind the buds and then whip it away as I push the button. Picture 2 shows you the Peony buds coming up (click on them a couple of times). Third is some of the display of Pulmonaria (I hope my lungs don't look like these, but aren't they pretty as leaves for a delicate flower?) in the back yard.

The Squills, the Thistle in the front side yard, and one of the TWO tiny Daffodils!

I'll bet you thought I was going to forget the Spiders. There aren't so many right now, but the ones that are appearing are just lovely. Even the Common House Spiders seem delicate as they balance in the air. A Cobwebber, probably a Common House Spider, is especially artful. That Bold Jumper is now over on the steps from deck to Pond, and seemed a bit less crazy than usual. Or maybe this one is a juvenile - its color system is completely different. Last is probably a Dwarf Spider but with those red legs, she could be anything. Imagine a ballerina with 8 legs!

When I first saw this little creature, I mentally labeled it "fly", but it is actually a very tiny Wasp, called an Encyrtid Wasp. The creature in the next picture is a new kind of Dog. If anyone knows this breed please let me know so I can label the picture. A student (I think, all these young people look alike) was walking with it while I was taking pictures of the flowers in the front bed. He kindly gave me permission to post the Dog for you. Then, to keep things even in Cat-Dog land, here is a beautiful Backyard Beastie, aka Spooky, surveying her queendom. She loves days when I open the door and it isn't a trick. She goes out, has some water from the pond, eats some grass and throws it up and AH, the day has begun.

And so the week has ended with a bang and a whimper. Take care, all, Summer is just around the corner, and if that comes, can the other be far behind? Last note: It's Monday, April 18, 2022, and SNOWING!

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copyright Martha O'Kennon 2022