August 7, 2022

Martha O'Kennon

What can I say about the weather this week? It was again about what we're used to here. One day the humidity went past my tolerable point but that night we got our first really good Thunder and Lightning storm. Before the storm the big Redbud tree's leaves were quite droopy but they're back to usual now.

There aren't so many big splashy flowers out nowadays. But the cultivated Phlox is really getting ready to bloom. The Celandine Poppy still puts out an occasionl flower. And the Water Lily was still blooming at the beginning of the week. Two big buds are waiting for the perfect moment to bloom out there. Surely we'll get to see them soon!

We got a new Ant this week. These red and black Slave-raider Field Ants (Complex Formica sanguinea) seemed to be raiding someone for pupae (baby Ants) to take to their own nest to make a working nest out of the hard work of others. Picture 2 shows one carrying the stolen baby. They were spotted running on top of the Pond liner (that black surface). I don't know where either nest (the nest of the raiders or the victims) is. Third is a Nearctic Ant.

We did get some Bees (unlike most of the time). The Thistles on which our Keeled Treehoppers were living (note the past) finally bloomed and this one day TWO different kinds of Bees were visiting. The greener one was probably a Pure Gold-green Sweat Bee (Augochlora pura) and the dark blue-black one is in the Subgenus Zadontomerus.

First among the Beetles was this tiny shiny black Flea Beetle, so named because of its size. We also saw this beige Weevil and (picture 3) this commonest of Weevils in this yard (and one of the handsomest), the Redbud Bruchid. Finally, a beautiful Asian Lady Beetle.

The Alder Spittlebug is here in force. I've never seen so many. Here is a female and then a male. And now here is another one of the Dendrocoris genus of Stink Bugs. Lastly, please remember that batch of Stink Bug eggs we were mourning last week? They still aren't showing any signs of survival. They appear to still be full of liquid, possibly from a couple of hard rains, but they weren't washed off the wall.

Right after I put the blog to bed last week, this little creature appeared on the North Wall. In picture 1, look how it holds its arms like a mantis (Prehensile arms). Although I'd never seen it before, it was obviously an assassin of some sort. It turns out to be in genus Empicoris. I've seen before one (picture 2) that seems to be a bit older than the present one but not an adult. Aha! Picture 3 is the adult. Unfortunately I only saw it that one day. It may have gone under the shop. But it was exciting to see an individual younger than the former youngest. :-)

The dry spell and then the torrential rains wreaked their havoc on the Wall of Fame, especially the more exposed North Wall, which means little action on the part of Barklice this week. But the exception was the Ectopsocus meridionalis, who, by the end of the week, were back in business laying eggs. Here you see a pair of nymphs of different sizes; then three of them, the middle one having just moulted into adulthood; and on August 5, a female laying a prodigious clutch of eggs and covering them with a protective layer of silk. Whew! they keep going into tragedy, and finally emerge smelling like roses (or whatever E. meridionalis smell like).

The Polypsocus corruptus suffered variously. But there were still some visible, like this first one, on the morning after the storm. The other pictures were taken before the uproar.

On August 5, there were a couple of places where there had been eggs that I had mentally labeled Graphopsocus cruciatus, and that day we saw NYMPHS that do look like G. cruciatus nymphs. Picture 1 (containing a tiny Spider) and Picture 2 were photographed at 10:54 am and 3:30 pm respectively. Also on August 5, here is an adult. We'll be keeping an eye out.

On August 1st and 2nd, we saw Trichadenotecnum alexanderae, but not later. Also the strange nymph decked out in Lichenwear I only saw once, on August 1. The next day brought this little black fellow, maybe a skewed view of an Ant! That's about all I can say about my poor Barklice this week.

A couple of kinds of Dragonflies visited this week. One was the Meadowhawk, probably an Autumn Meadowhawk (I've seen other people's pictures of those), and the other the Common Whitetail (pictures 2 and 3). But wait, I hear you saying, that so-called Whitetail does NOT have a white tail. Well, it turns out only the male has the decorative White Tail, and this is a female.

We're up to the Flies. Here's one in which about all you see at first because of its iridescent eyes. Next has much the same attraction. Third is a tiny Crane Fly.

The thing that always stymies me is identifying Mosquitoes. These next ones AREN'T Mosquitoes but Midges because they don't have the long thick proboscis.

This first one that seems to have three stripes across its back tells me it is Aedes trivittatus, the Plains Floodwater Mosquito. If you see "vittatus" or "vittata" in the species name, whatever the creature, think 3 stripes, or "bivittatus" (two stripes). That is a handy Latin name. The second one has lots of vertical stripes, too many to count, but it also has white dots on its legs, so this is probably a member of the Aedes genus. Those stripes and the dotted legs say Asian Bush Mosquito. I don't know about number 3, but I bet it's Aedes anyway. By the way, note the Plains Floodwater Mosquito doesn't have dotted legs. Rules are made to bust!

Here are two House Fly mimics and a mystery.

Here are three pairs of Flies, probably Humpbacked Flies of different species. They are NOT shy about mating in public.

Here is a beautiful little Robber Fly, Efferia aestuans. It was on the inside of the door. And here is one I thought was a huge Wasp, but turned out to be a Golden Legged Mydas Fly (Mydas tibialis). It was dying out on the front walk, poor beautiful thing!

This Moth Fly is not quite like our old friend, the Bathroom Moth Fly. The second pretty Moth is probably the Sober Renia Moth. We saw one back a while that looked exactly like our present one, but a dark brown color. They must vary a lot in color. Third is one that flew up and landed right in front of my nose. The ID app in iNat called it a Caddisfly, but I don't think so but nobody has seconded my calling it a Moth yet.

I think it's time for a very short Flower Walk. My yard is right now in between with flowers. Most of the large showy ones, like the Day Lilies, are over, but there are a lot of buds coming out, sort of promissory notes for the rest of the summer. Here is one you've already seen - the Thistle flower with two kinds of tiny shiny Bees in it. Picture 2 shows the explosion of seed floaters that will fly all over and start some Thistle babies for me to move to the familiar spot next year. The last picture shows the remains of the Thistle where all the action took place this year with the Keeled Treehoppers' colonizing it. They seem to have literally sucked all the life-giving nutrients from this plant!

Since we're out front, look at the Asters - they are forking all over to establish new flower loci. Both in front and in back, the Goldenrod is also beginning to make flower buds - finally! Not far away, you will see the Sun and Substance Hosta in bloom! What a hardy plant that Hosta is!

Next to the Asters along the front walk are a few gigantically tall Tall Evening Primrose plants. Here's one stretching a couple of feet above my head. Next you see the end of that branch with definite buds for the golden flowers that will bloom soon.

Walking to the gate towards the Back Yard, we see that that Phlox that has been blooming busily for so long is still beautiful. And now, passing the Pond, we find that the Cultivated Phlox is not only budding (picture 2), but now its buds are turning purplish (picture 3)!

I didn't mention the Climbing Fumitory, did I? That delicate plant sent out yards of tendrils and is still blooming! Right across the fence that demarcates the Back Yard, the precious buds of the Red Raspberries have begun to form. Third, we can't forget the ever-faithful Celandine Poppies.

The Pulmonaria leaves continue to be spectacular. In the Pond, there are two Water Lily buds. This is one of them - It looked yesterday when I shot it as if it might open Sunday. You'll see later if it would. Picture 3 shows that lily last week.

We find ourselves in the Back yard again on August 7 and we see that the Water Lily did indeed open. On the deck, the Hibiscus is getting set to bloom. That's enough Flowers for me for today!

So we have had our Flower Walk. Now it is Spider Time! First, our little Common House Spider. I love the face delineated by the nose on this Spider.

Here are a couple of large Crab Spiders, followed by Euryopis funebris, the Eastern Triangular Cobweaver.

Here is a Cellar Spider, followed by a tiny spider in an Aster plant. The third Spider seems to have an embryonic face on its round back that reminds me of the face of a Common Pirate Spider, Mimetus puritanus. It seems also to have nabbed what may be a huge Ant. If it is Mimetus puritanus, then it is the youngest ones I've ever seen!

Here we have a tiny Spider with no identities found yet. And another (two pictures).

We end with two more Spiders and a Springtail. First is my most common Jumping Spider, Naphrys pulex. Second is a Crab Spider in the genus Bassaniana. Third is the Springtail, Willowsia nigromaculata, that was near the Spiders.

We now see a few Wasps. Here is a tiny one on a Rock. Then a couple of pictures of this one with a Spider prey. The Spider is a Crab Spider; the Wasp is in Genus Dipogon, "a member of Tarantula-hawk Wasps and Allies, Tribe Pepsini".

We had several non-insect, non-spider Arthropods too. First is what looks like a Brickwork Woodlouse (the older name for a Pillbug). Then a member of genus Polyxenus. And finally that Springtail that showed up before. Springtails fool many Insect-loving people, since they have six legs. But they are NOT Insects.

Just now, on Sunday afternoon, I found a strange creature. But during the week I'd seen these other two things which seem to be protective cases for some organism, who knows what? I'll be asking a lot of questions on iNat.

Once again, we have been saving the Pond for last. At the end of last week, we had been seeing at least two or three comparatively large Frogs, and then at that point our two Tiny Frogs were joined by two more even Tinier ones, which I've been calling the Teensies. But this week - maybe it's because of the storm and the very hot Days out there - but they haven't been out in the open so much. This morning when I went out to start up the pump (I unplug it every night in case the resident Raccoons get curious in the night and play with the return hose so that the water is diverted out of the pond and all over the ground, resulting in loss of fish and other inhabitants.) I didn't see ANY Frogs out of the water. I talked to them for a while, and as I was leaving to go back inside, I heard a familiar croaky voice coming from the Pond and - There was Frog Three, our formerly very chatty friend, Garumping. I went around to see if it really was Three, and garumped back. Frog Three went slightly crazy and for a few minutes we talked back and forth just like earlier. Here are some pictures from the past week. First, a Teensy (on the left) and a Tiny (right). Second is a Tiny - but they have grown so quickly that sometimes I label a picture of one as "Little". Third shows either a Tiny or a Teensy - I can't tell without two to compare!

First here is Frog Two (our largest Frog). A few minutes after I took this picture, Frog Two silently ambled away from the Pond into the bushes, probably to find fancier food. Next is a Little (older Tiny) and a Teensy. Last also shows a different Little and Teensy on the other side of the Pond. If this is confusing to YOU, only imagine how confused I am as our youngsters are growing altogether too fast!

Where did that week go? Wherever it went, it did it fast! I hope you are still clicking on all cylinders, whatever that means. Do cars even still HAVE cylinders? Take good care and have a little fun and a lot of talking with friends!

Love, Martha

I'm leaving up the video from last week showing the Fishes cavorting and probably looking for lunch!

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