December 11, 2022

Martha O'Kennon

Yes, it's still December in Michigan. Again the temperatures have been almost steadily hovering between 32 F and 45 F.

The Winter Ants are still/once more with us this week. What a source of life - how does the tiniest creature stay so vibrant (except for a few weeks when even they don't feel like prancing around the Wall) when most of the life of the yard has shut itself off for the time being? So far this late Fall, the Ants have only shown themselves a few days in a week.

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.

Here is an Aphid - I believe it is a Giant Conifer Aphid. It may grow up in that giant Blue Spruce that hangs over the woodshop. You can see that it walks very slowly. When it saw it was being filmed it dropped to the ground so this is one of the shortest gif files EVER.

I still miss those lovely little green Aphids that somehow got rustled away a couple of years ago. But here are some of the ones I've seen in the interim. Dates: May 28, August 26, and November 6 this year.

You might well ask, what about Bees, Beetles and Bugs? The answer would then be, NONE, NONE, and Yes! our old faithful Drymus unus is still around, though no longer mating. But no other Bugs showed up this week. Let's see what there WAS out there. Oh yes, the Case Creatures! But they aren't Bugs, but Moth larvae, remember?

It probably goes without saying that the Bees were missing, nor did we see a single Beetle this week. The Bugs are probably hardier in some way. Drymus unus is a great example! There are still quite a few of them (in the Goldenrod of course). But this week they had to carry the whole burden of Bug appearances. Even the sleepy Leafhoppers were absent this week. (disclaimer: "absent" in this context means "invisible to me", since they are known to pass the winter SOMEWHERE as adults, probably underneath the shop.

The Flies did put in a pretty good showing. Of course we had our share of Midges and those tiny Moth Flies.

Here's a newish Fly, which iNat's ID app called Genus Mycetophila.

Here are a couple of other Flies. The antennae in the first two shots look like the ones above, but the ID app calls them Fungus Gnats and Gall Midges (Superfamily Sciaroidea). The third photo is of another kind of Fly.

The ONLY Psocid (Barklouse) I saw at all this week was Graphopsocus cruciatus. I'm not quite sure what the extra creatures are in picture 3.

Color-deprived, suddenly I spotted a mostly dried-up Pink from earlier in the Summer. What cheer! Second is a set of Flower seeds about to take off on the wings of the Wind. Third is that other dried-up plant I keep calling a Tripod. Look closely - this is your Color Walk of the Winter.

The Case creatures are still out there. The third one seems to be wrapped in a fragile bit of something resembling very thin Bark.

Were there any Spiders? A few minutes ago I might have said "hardly". But then Kathleen Seidl sent in this picture of a couple of "Red Spiders" that enjoy her Holiday wreath. Wonderful image, Kathleen! The Spiders even LOOK like holiday ornaments! Say, could she be fooling me? They really DO look like holiday ornaments! The next GIF shows a frantic Spider dancing in maximum speed on the West Wall. Third is evidence of some kind of Spider - it is a tightly wrapped morsel for later!

Well, my friends, another week gone by and guess what? That means another fewer week to slog through before January - and guess what happens then?? Yes, here is a picture from January 14, 2022 this very year! Think of it that way. This is a picture from my next-door neighbors' yard - of snowdrops just beginning to open up. Yes, Spring really is just around the corner. Keep that thought in your head and we should all be a lot better that way. It's amazing, but just at the depths of what we think is Winter we CAN find signs that it is on its way out! Keep thinking of it that way.

Love, Martha

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