April 24, 2022

Martha O'Kennon

Can you believe that for two days this week we woke up to that tiny-flaked snow? It wasn't so cold, but this is ridiculous! Still, beside rain, April has sometimes exploded into lots of SNOW. Oh, that was when I lived in Potsdam, NY! But don't feel bad - here in Michigan, I remember one day when the College had graduation inside the Gym, and as we all walked out afterward on a May day, there it was - snowing into the punchbowl! (Note: the next day, April 23, was in the 70's or 80's.) The crocus are all over. But here is a beautiful hot pink Hyacinth; a Pulmonaria (Lungwort) showing how it buds pink, then goes through blue and then purple blossoms. Then another Pulmonaria next to one of those Wide-leaved Grape Hyacinths. Isn't it interesting how the color of this garden's Blossoms morphs from yellow to pink and blue?

The Ants were hard to find this week. And I don't think I saw a single one of our fave the Winter Ant, except for this: our mystery Ant is actually our old friend the Winter Ant Queen! Last year they swarmed on exactly this day, April 23rd. Welcome back, dear Queen!

Here is a biggish Black Ant that seems to be some kind of Camponotus. It's not the Eastern Black Carpenter, because it lacks the fine yellow hairs on the gaster (gluteus maximus). I didn't know what the second one was until Emmett Collins-Sussman identified it (just in time for this blog to go to bed!) as the Shaded Fuzzy Ant (Lasius aphidicola). And that was about it for Ants on this usually Ant-full day. Blame it on the surrounding weather.

We did see a few "bees", that is to say, flies that I think look bee-ish. The first may be Carlin's Mining Bee (Andrena carlini). The second I've no idea.

That brown "straw"ish structure (picture 1, April 22) 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 the afternoon of April 23, 2022. Picture 3 shows a creature appearing on the downward route of the nest. Aghhhhhhh! Yesterday as I was doing the afternoon shoot, the whole structure seemed to have fallen to the ground and disappeared. Tracing down the wall, I did find this creature. Was it the child of the creator of the Straw Structure? Who knows?


Here we see the progress of some of the Barklouse nests we've been following. The third one was spotted yesterday for the first time.

Yesterday (April 23) I think I found an adult Graphopsocus cruciatus. It seems to be unfolding itself from its last moult. Oh! Another set of eight Barklouse dark eggs, weaned down to only two.

Maybe that's enough of Barklice for now. How about some Beetles? This first one is the Telephanus atracapillus beetle. I've seen this second one several times. It has a silly name, sort of like "drumstick beetle"... I got it! It's called a Puffball Beetle! The third one is the Redbud Bruchid, a weevil that eats seeds from inside the pod of the Redbud.

I was about to say "No Bugs", but then out jumped this Leafhopper of the Erythridula genus. Second is not a Bug, but is the Caterpillar of some kind of Swallowtail Butterfly, taken by Jim Whitehouse's friend Rulapaughs from Arizona. Next is the adult of some kind of Moth. I'm still waiting to see if anyone has succeeded in identifying.

Of all the little Flies that seem to show up on the Wall, almost all are either Midges or Fungus Gnats, so I promise to show only the ones that don't seem to be either of those. Here's the one that might have been a Bee. Next is one that the ID app labeled a Mosquito, but I don't think so. The third one looked quite different to me from any Midges I've seen, but it got identified on iNat as a MIDGE.

Let's take that Flower Walk now. The blooms are spaced fairly far between, but we will just hop from spot to spot. Here is that pink Hyacinth again - there are actually three or four of these out back. I BELIEVE that this golden-edged one was a feature of the light - it is probably another Pink one. So is number 3.

The front and side beds have several clumps of Grape Hyacinths. They have gone great guns since I bought the house in 1988 - that year there were 32 blooms. Now each clump seems to have that many! The wide-leaved variety in the picture that shared space with the Pulmonaria (picture 3) also has a bicolor bloom, slightly lighter on top.

The Japonica or Japanese Quince continues the splash of pink-red buds.

That Purple Hellebore is still shockingly pink as it raises its flowers higher and higher. Second is the beautiful Rhododendron budding in the Seelys' yard. I hope you realize that I spelled the plural in the way that still recognizes Dave's part in this neighborhood. This Pulmonaria's flowers show the transition from pink to purple to blue over the days. Or is it pink to blue to purple?


In the grass, Violets are starting to pop out. Tulips are getting bigger buds now. And way out back across the neighbors' fence, the Virginia Bluebell is starting to bud out. Click once or twice to spot the buds...

We didn't have all that many Spiders this week: a glut of Common House Spiders and some other Cobwebbers. Picture 3 is our famous Horned Parasitic Cobweaver. It's the one that first appears to be a tetrahedron-shaped orange object. I still remember the first time I actually saw it begin to open out and show its legs. For a mathematician, seeing this was a real treat!

Let's take another look at that Cobweb Spider a paragraph up. It seems to have something white wrapped around its lower regions. Apparently, that something is a Braconid Wasp, which seems to have quite a reputation for parasitizing Spiders.

Now to the Pond, which is beginning to look a bit summery. The water is now warm enough to feed the fishes, which now respond to my calling "here, fishy fishy fishy fishy!" It's also gotten a head start on its algae population. I've already put out a batch of Barley bales, which do help somewhat. Anyway, here are some of the fishes, waiting for their feed. In picture 2, the food has been tossed in for them.

Here is another little Frog sitting on a barley bale. It is still brownish but may be one of our Green Frogs.

Last week ended with the words AND NOW IT'S SNOWING. Contrariwise, today and yesterday were in the 80's! I hope you had a good weekend and will have many more. I have got to go down now and see if the new air conditioner is working.

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copyright Martha O'Kennon 2022