June 5, 2022

Martha O'Kennon

Wonderful Weather! It's been about 50-60 F early in the morning for the week. I turned off the AC, which I'd been adjusting for a couple of weeks in case it should get too hot. But each night has gone down to sleeping weather! A few drops of rain and that's it in the weather report.

The Oriental Poppies bloomed and that was it. But the Celandine Poppies, which started months ago (or so it seems) are beginning to fade out and their pods are ripening. The Dames Rocket is still lending its color to the yard - all OVER the yard! But it is winding down gently. My Cranesbill Geranium still blooms in single flowers but they are more to be found anyway.

The Eastern Black Carpenters are doing well. Picture 2 shows one trying to gather a Gypsy Moth (oh, I forgot, it is now the Spongy Moth) caterpillar. The Nearctic Carpenters, formerly known as the Smaller Carpenter Ants, are probably the most common out there on the Wall.

There were some surprises. This first ant was identified to subgenus Crematogaster in the larger group of Cocktail Ants. (Imagine that!) The second was identified as either the Bent-spined Acorn Ant (Temnothorax curvispinosus) or its cousin T. ambiguus. How appropriate! The real T. curvispinosus was one of the first Ants I saw back when I first joined iNaturalist.org. First tiny and first yellowish Ants. This one fooled me since it was more reddish than yellowish. But maybe that's because it was running around on the green-lidded garbage can issued by the City.

Did we have any Bees? This first one is actually a Fly - the Narcissus Bulb Fly - which is a Bee mimic. And the next is another Hoverfly, Toxomerus geminatus, a close relative of the one we met last week (picture 3). So at least we did see three Bee Mimics!

Beetles? Yes! Especially this beautiful little one that I often find on my bedroom wall. It's the Eurasian Red-and-black Melyrid (Anthocomus equestris). But it's followed by two other Beetles that I don't recognize.

This little Beetle with the red collar is being submitted for ID, as it seems so familiar. Number 2 is the Weevil, Myosides seriehispidus. By the way, the mysterious green Weevil of last week was identified as the Pale Green Weevil.

How about the Bugs? Well, here's our favorite Assassin Bug, Zelus luridus, who has just stabbed a bit of prey. Picture 2 is a dorsal view, so you can see by the long wings, that this one is now an Adult. It is followed by the Leafhopper Erythroneura aclys.

This next is a Plant Bug, which I had at first seen as a Fly. It takes a long time to get some of these straight! But the next two are some of the Keeled Treehoppers I hope will come to what seems to be growing a straight and tall Thistle Plant. You can see that the last picture seems to show some eggs beside this Matriarch.

The Barklice (Psocids to the experts) are beginning to show up on the Wall. Graphopsocus cruciatus can be seen in adult, nymph and egg form.

We're also now able to find Valenzuela flavidus in several stages. Last week we saw a nymph. The other day I was scanning the East Wall for anything interesting, and saw a golden blur as an adult twisted one way and the other laying her eggs.

The next day (June 2) I spotted a familiar-looking nymph, which I first remembered as Psocus leidyi, but Diane Young identified it as a young Teliapsocus conterminus. Now every day since then I've been able to find it (supposedly the same one, as I haven't seen two at a time.

The Dragonflies and Damselflies have been busily flitting about the yard. This first one is the gorgeous male Ebony Jewelwing Damselfly, while the large Dragonfly sleeping on the gate was a Spatterdock Darner.

The Flies are getting more and more varied in color and shape. We have several kinds of Crane Flies. This first one I believe gets the name "Spectacled Cranefly" from the two pairs of specs on either side of the head. Second has always been one of my favorites. It's called Limonia annulata but the decorations on the wings resemble to me some kind of block print designs. Third is interesting because the decorations on the abdominal segments look like a kind of Mayan temple design (to me at this moment). Actually, as I wrote this, it started to look like another Spectacled!

This tiny shiny thing is a so-called "long-legged fly", and has some of the brightest iridescence in the natural world. Second is a midge that I like to call "Snowbunny" for its resemblance to the coloring of an Arctic Hare. And third is the Asian Bush Mosquito.

Here are a couple kinds of Moth Flies. Then a probable member of genus Sylvicola, and one of the Snipe Flies.

This first tiny Fly is a Striped-leg Robber Fly, I believe. (The posture gives it awaFly.) Then one of the whimsically-shaped Flies I was referring to in the opening of this section: the Common Picture-winged Fly.

So our Flower Walk. Here in the tangled maze of old plants is the Pink Columbine, and a few feet away the Climbing Fumitory plant. And then another Columbine.

In a bare patch of ground, what I think is called Hawkweed, and an enlarged flower. Then the Japanese Iris in a patch of Cranesbill Geranium.

The German Iris in full bloom. The Heliotrope also is reaching full bloom by the house. A spare Mullein is growing fast in the weed patch.

The Celandine Poppy has been blooming since earliest Spring and continues to do so slowly but now its seed heads are ripening. Second is a relative from Kathleen's garden, which was identified on iNat as Greater Celandine (Chelidonium majus). While we're talking about her garden, here is her tumble of Irises in yellows and purples.

The Dames Rocket is beginning to slow down but still beautiful. I'm waiting to see if the tiny Weevils that showed up to mate and lay eggs on it will arrive this year.

Let's look at a few Moth mysteries that appeared this week. All three of these are waiting to be identified on iNat.

This first one is an old friend, the Porcelain Grey. Next is a Mystery Caterpillar. Third shows the Gypsy Moth (new ugly name: Spongy Moth) caught by an ant.

The Amphibian presence in the yard has gotten more and more interesting. I thought the Toad who continued to show up and even sidle up to the Green Frogs was mostly gone, but then it reappeared hopping eastward along the North Wall toward the most unkempt part of the dark Back Yard. Frog One seems to have decided that his presence as the oldest of three male Green Frogs was no longer necessary and so I haven't seen him for a week or more. But here is Frog Two apparently eating something leggy, and Frog Three on a lily pad (now that at least this pad is sturdy enough to hold a small Frog).

But let me show you the cutest frog clip I have ever gotten. Here is Frog Three across the Pond from me, so let's enlarge the film clip as much as possible so you can enjoy watching Froggy Three as he tries to answer my Frog baby talk, moving his throat and opening his mouth even though he is too young to make much of a sound. Just click on the picture to start the short clip.

Spider Time! But most of the Spiders we have seen this week are the usual assortment of Cobweb Spiders, Common House Spiders, and our favorite Jumping Spider. Picture 2 shows a young male Common House Spider whose red color is developing. And in picture 3, our juvenile Naphrys pulex is growing up.

Here are one of the large Crab Spiders, possibly in genus Bassaniana; the Brotherly Ground Crab Spider that we saw so much of a week ago; and a Bold Jumper ducking from the camera.

The most perplexing Spider picture I got this week was of this mass of legs. Finally my friend @tigerbb in iNat simplified it for me. Since it was a side-view I didn't immediately see it as an old friend, genus Bassaniana, a male in fact, with the two pedipalps right under the face, which I saw as two prey creatures. Picture 3 is a more normal picture of Bassaniana, showing the tipoff heart-shaped piece.

Here are a couple of Pillbugs (Woodlice for people in the next hemisphere over, pointed out to me by Biddy Greene). The second pair appear to be mating.

Again, Friends, I hope it has been a lovely week, or at least lovelier than some others. Yesterday I went to the big Fabric and Other Stuff Store in Jackson for the first time in three years and found that I didn't really need too much more Other Stuff. What a good feeling! Have another great week, everyone!

Love, Martha

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