December 18, 2022

Martha O'Kennon

Did I ever tell you that the weather in December in Michigan is very predictable? I could easily copy this first paragraph from last week's Blog into this (this week's) one. The temperature has bee hovering from low 30's F to about 45 F. For several days now, the little pond heater has been acting strangely and if I check the GFI box I often will see that the reset light is off. For some time it has stuck right on 32 F, but the whole pond has been watery as opposed to frozen, but today the whole pond has been frozen, at least on top. So I had no choice but to order a new heater. The next step will be to get the GFI port checked. Oh well, a few minutes after getting the heater going, there's enough molten water to attract this handsome orange tomcat.

Our beloved False Honey Ants/ Small Honey Ants/ American Winter Ants/ Prenolepis imparis are still here. They come out from under the woodshop every few days as if to say The World is still turning day by day, from Fall to Winter and from Winter to Spring! I wonder what they will be called (by humans) in a few more years.

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.

Another Aphid. I have NEVER seen so many kinds of Aphids in the Winter before. Number 3 is the Giant Conifer Aphid we saw last week.

No Bees. No Beetles. What about Bugs? Well, as a matter of fact, there WAS one Leafhopper. Once more it is Erasmoneura vulnerata (two shots). Several days I saw at least one solitary Drymus unus; and that was THAT even for the Bugs.

There is a bit of life in the world of Case Creatures, the ones that make themselves a comfy case that they can drag along the wall and take refuge when needed. This is the only one of THOSE that I saw this week (picture 3). They are actually to be grouped with the Moths. It just so happens that I only saw one other Moth this week. For a while I thought it was a new Leafhopper, but someone on iNat clued me in that it was in fact a Moth.

Here are a couple of Flies. First is a non-biting Midge, but I'm not sure about the second. Number 3 is one of those tiny Moth Flies.

This one is probably a Fungus Gnat.

The ONLY Psocid (Barklouse) I saw at all this week was Graphopsocus cruciatus. Here is an adult and then a clutch of eggs. Third is a group of little nymphs hatching.

Here are those little nymphs enlarged. But wait! ARE those G. cruciatus nymphs? When I first saw them I wondered about the little dots that we usually see on G. cruciatus nymphs. No dots here. Unless they develop later. Then when I zoomed in on them again, the eyes seemed to be reddish. Picture 2 was found in October 28, 2019. It shows a Valenzuela flavidus nymph. So I wonder if this isn't actually V. flavidus as a nymph. More to come on this!

This pretty thing is a Psyllid, probably Trioza albifrons. It seems to visit here in the early Winter. I've submitted it to iNat and Bugguide a few times but have yet to find someone else who seconds this ID.

Well, here we are halfway through December. A few years ago, I made sure to watch the daily temperatures (average, high, low) each evening, and graph those data. One of the things it showed was that on February 2 the average low temperature began to turn back up. That is, we only have about a month and a half to go before it starts to get warm again. At the rate the days are falling away that will be almost nothing! Chanukah is here and Christmas doesn't have far to go to catch up. Here are some Pond pictures for those who love their winter! Even I can appreciate how lovely it is from inside!

Love, Martha

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