May 29, 2022

Martha O'Kennon

Weather is in evidence every moment of every day. The temperatures this week have been at least in the 50's F and up into the high 70's F. There are a few things that are different this week from any of the years I've been recording. You'll see some of them.

The Oriental Poppies are blooming now. And the Ranunculus or Buttercup still has one strong plant. Meanwhile the Dames Rocket, which is an immigrant from somewhere, is busily filling any empty space on the ground - in MY yard, but doesn't seem to have moved out into the general neighborhood. Isn't it interesting how the flowers change from week to week?

Finally it's safe for the Winter Ants to come back after all the swarming antics (haha) of the Nearctic Carpenters. But this orange Spider (picture 3) seemed to think it was time for supper.

Here's one of the Eastern Black Carpenter Ants in the back yard. Third is an Ant? Wasp? mystery.

We had at least one Bee. First here is probably a member of the Lasioglossum genus. Look at the gobs of pollen on its legs. But we also had a lovely Hover Fly, the Margined Calligrapher, in this Dames Rocket flower. So I'm taking the liberty of showing the Hover Fly here for now, as it is a fellow pollinator.

This first Beetle seems to be an Asian Lady Beetle. I'd be sure if the ornamental "W" pattern showed up more at its neck. The second seems to be another Asian Lady Beetle, the kind that are so shiny because they don't really have visible Spots. This one does at least have the "W" pattern at the neck. Picture 3 is another shot of Picture 2. (There is actually a kind of Lady Beetle called "Polished Lady Beetle", but its neck ornament is quite ornate. Picture 4 shows one of those from August 2016.)

Oh! One more Beetle. You remember that I've been seeing Phyllotreta ochripes for several years, and that last year @borisb told me that this is an immigrant beetle that may be a predator of Garlic Mustard. Most people around here hate GM and would like it to disappear. The trouble seems to be that P. ochripes also feeds on other less hated plants. Anyway, I have wanted to get a picture of it on our GM, which has been presenting with tiny holes. Pictures 1 and 2 show it on my woodshop siding, and picture 3 Finally! shows it on the underside of a Garlic Mustard Leaf! Oh. Here is one more Beetle, a green Weevil which is either the Pale Green Weevil or the Immigrant Green Leaf Weevil. And I can't tell the difference so I'm waiting for someone on iNat to tell me which it is! Flash - I sent off the blog to you and THEN was told this is the Pale Green Weevil!

Since those were the Beetles this week, we move on to the Bugs. This first one MAY be a Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB). The second one looks like a member of genus Euschistus of Stink Bugs. It is only the beginning of Leafhopper season, so here is the member we saw this week. It is a member of genus Eratoneura in a yellow form!

Let's entertain ourselves with the Barklice and any progress we have made in identifying the life stages they are in now. I'm not the only person on iNat who is seeing Graphopsocus (probably cruciatus) adults on their walls. Here's a well-superannuated one from mine. But now I'm starting to see them in nymphal stages. Picture 2 shows a newly moulted nymph along with two other moults. And picture 3 shows one a bit older - note the developing wings.

Here is a little cabin of Barklouse babies from March 20, 2022, and then again on May 27. Very slow changes, but then we're talking about a period of only a bit more than two months.

This business of diagnosing small creatures into the species/genus you want to see is quite frustratingly hilarious. I was going to claim this first little fellow (big fellow compared to barklouse nymphs) was a Valenzuela nymph, but decided it looked more like the Delphacid planthoppers.. Still waiting to hear from iNat on that. The second one - I now believe that it is probably a young Globular Springtail. A couple of people suggested this one! Thanks! But wait! Just today I found this little adult Valenzuela flavidus right on the Wall of Fame!

What a week for Flies this was! I've never gotten so many photos of so many different-looking Flies! As usual we had our share of Crane Flies. I don't know what this first one is, but an iNat colleague @jongelhaus identified one from last week as Rhipidia maculata (picture 2), partly based on its "bipectinate antennae", referring I think to the fractal-like antennae. The Yellow one in picture 3 came flitting into the yard via the Pond this afternoon. The last one just came by this morning.

The Midges are almost always the most populous of the Flies in my yard. But I seem to be having a streak of tribe Tanytarsini, mostly in gorgeous shades of green. This first Midge seems to be almost invisible against the green leaf it's on. And the second is amazingly GREEN! Of course, not every Midge this week was green, as in picture 3.

Here's a huge black Fly; a shiny coppery Fly; another shiny Fly; and a striped Fly.

This bright-red eyed fly with the black spots on its wings is almost surely Chymomyza amoena, one of the Vinegar Flies. Second is one of the Snipe Flies. I don't recognize the third Fly.

Here is one of those Moth Flies. And a sneakily added real Caterpillar, not a Fly at all. And this Common Greenbottle Fly, although I was expecting "Orangebottle" instead! Number 4 MAY be one of those little Bibio males.

How about our usual Flower Walk so that we can take in a lot of beauty in small spots? In the midst of the crazy center garden between houses, the Double Pink Columbine is now blooming, just since the middle of the week. I still haven't spotted the red and white one. But we have a lot of Dames Rocket to keep the pink theme alive!

The Forget-me-not is still blooming strong all over the place. Meanwhile the Goutweed is still coming out. And a patch of Wild Grapevine is draping itself all over a Maple bough and starting its little grapelets.

Remember that Margined Calligrapher Hoverfly that was enjoying the Dames Rocket? Well, it's back on the Raspberry nursery. And if you remember the Money Plant (Honesty) from a while ago. It's now in seed, and you can see why it was called Money Plant. And the Orange "Oriental" Poppies are now blooming in their true Orange.

The Ranunculus (Buttercup) is up and blooming away. The young Oak saplings have reddish leaves.


Let's check out the flowers in the Pond. The Water Lilies I planted from an online company did very little last year but this year there are 6 or 7 leaves floating on the top, as well as one small bud, so maybe there will be a flower this year. This picture shows the Fishes doing their thing in the Pond. I bought a pack of five Water Lettuces - they go indoors at night until the water is warmer but their long roots (when they grow) will serve as hiding places for baby fishes until they have grown too big for their parents to snack on. These last little creatures are the Toad Tadpoles growing like weeds. You can double-click to see them better. Well, I'm hanging it up for the night. Only slept 4 hours last night!

A few Fishy Pictures.

Since we are now back at the Pond, let's just see how the Frogs and Toads are doing. This week we had a surprise visit from a good-sized male American Toad. (picture 1). It seems to have begun to think of itself as a great replacement for the biggest Green Frog. Note that we now have two Pond Frogs instead of the former three. Picture 3 shows two Green Frogs (no Frog One) and a Toad. The Toad tends to come and go.

Speaking of Frog behavior, the smallest Frog, who was speechless last summer, has begun to talk. His "galumph" has not totally developed yet but he manages a kind of cough or a sound like a dowel being twisted in a hole. If the next-sized Frog is on the Escape Mechanism and the littlest Frog lands on it, he will begin to vocalize at Frog Two and approach him in a bully-like fashion. And Frog Two will actually hop away!

Let's see what we saw in the way of Spiders. Many of the Spiders out now are still Juveniles, so a lot of my ID's are tentative, unless they have been confirmed by another member of iNat. When we said goodbye last week, this Brother Ground Crab Spider was still in contention, but was during the week finally ID'ed. Second is a Common House Spider. Most of our finds are Cobweb Spiders, a group of round-abdomened Spiders with a nice symmetrical pattern.

This sweet little Spider is a young Naphrys pulex Jumping Spider. These are my very favorite Spiders. I'm sure you know about the studies of how young animals look so wide-eyed and lovable because they are born with their eyes about the same size as they will be in adulthood. (I know about it because this kind of drivel sticks better in my drivulous brain. And I could be wrong too!) As you can see from pictures 2 (taken on May 29 2022) and picture 3 (taken on August 3, 2021), it takes a while for the adult's overall color pattern to develop.

Here's another Jumping Spider. I'm about willing to say it's from genus Hentzia, but it is still a Juvie, so can't just pronounce that! About picture 2, the ID app from iNat called it genus Bassaniana. The feathery abdomen of picture 3 is piquing - looks so appealing but I just don't know it. And picture 4 shows what seems to be getting more and more common - a Spider with a Wasp larva wrapped around it.

We did have a few [probably Ichneumonid] Wasps. Here is my favorite - it was identified by @juan_sphex as belonging to the tribe Ephialtini. Besides those Wasps, we saw quite a few kinds of PillBugs and other things related to them.

It would have been a fiesta for people who enjoy seeing little surprises! Here is a little Horsie, a Camel, a Swan and another Water Bird.

Well, Friends, it has been a much more relaxing week. AALL classes are over until October, fewer medical appointments. Please give yourself as much time as possible to have lunch with a friend, read a book of some sort, Zoom with someone not near but dear, smell a flower, pat a cat, talk with a spider. (I know this is what I said last week, so let me add a couple more possibilities: take a ride on SpaceY (in person if possible, in a dream otherwise); study the photos coming back from the Webb Telescope; Vote when it's time.

Love, Martha

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copyright Martha O'Kennon 2022