May 8, 2022

Martha O'Kennon

Believe it or not - the temperatures dropped again last week, but the weekend is supposed to bring some more Springlike warmth. This first one is about the first sign you may get of the Forget-me-nots. But it means to say the ground in the back yard at least will soon be covered with that unforgettable blue. The two colors of Money Plants (Honesty) are now blooming - the seeds will soon be enclosed in translucent coin-shapes. People like to dry the flower stalks for arrangements later.

It seems that the Ants appear different every angle you see them through. Even our most recognizable Winter Ant (head, two little balls, and an elongated sharp-pointed gaster) looks different different times. In picture 3, the usually pointed gaster is swollen due to the satisfactory feeding of the Ant.

I was wondering whatever happened to the Smaller Carpenter Ant I saw so many of last year. Well, that is the newly named Nearctic Carpenter Ant that you've heard so much of this year. What a face! For me the tip-off is the reddish second segment. I like all the delicate mouthparts in picture 2.

I'm going to come back to the Barklice. But first! What was that loud-buzzing creature that flew about my room last evening, bumping into things. I mentally called it a Bumblebee, although it wasn't clear that it was one. It might have been an enormous clumsy Fly. Never saw it, but just want you to know that if you heard a similar creature, it might have been the same. Please, if you caught a photo of it, please send me a copy and I'll try to identify it for the rest of us! So that takes care of all my bee sightings for the week! Number 2 fooled me at first into thinking the round wound on its abdomen was an ornament, but no, this really is our old faithful Drymus unus! The next little Bug MIGHT have been an Assassin Bug, either Zelus luridus or Z. tetracanthus. I sent my pictures to Konstantin Grebennikov, who said it appeared to him to be a Ringed Horn Assassin Bug (Rocconota annulicornis) instead. I need to look for a nymph of that one to help me decide! Third is that White-margined Burrowing Bug.

But in the meantime, here are two Leafhoppers in the Genus Erythridula.

I've been so besieged by little Flies which are either Midges or Fungus Gnats. So I'll show them to you and maybe you will know them exactly!

Some more Midge vs Fungus Gnat pictures. But at least number 3 may belong to the genus Sylvicola of Wood Gnats.

A few more Midge-like Flies. Number 2 is a mystery. The third is from genus Sylvicola.

One good break: I've been seeing a small colorful Fly named Asteia beata for years now. Here it was on October 20, 2018. As Chris Angell noted in iNat, this coloration is not Iridescence but WIP (Wing Interference Pattern). That implies that the color changes are not changeable with direction like Iridescence. Picture 3 is from December 26, 2018. Isn't it amazing how a bit of direction, light, and more - can make a picture seem to change completely!

A couple more Flies. We had seen Anthomyia oculifera ("wears glasses") last week, but it reappeared today. And here is one more unknown quantity. It looks like the street brawler of Flies!

In the last couple of days the Crane Flies have started coming back. This first one is a Tiger Crane Fly - I guess because of its bright colors!

Let's just look a bit at the Barklice now. Last week I did my daily look at the Egg Masses I've been calling the Nurseries. Some of the better-formed (for study purposes) were located at certain places on the East Wall, which I scribbled up with a thick pen and going from 4-1 backwards and then from a - t horizontally moving northward. So on May 2 I had a pretty good idea of what the major nurseries looked like. But the next day was so rainy, I figured the nurseries were probably emptied. Here is nursery S on the 2nd, 3rd and 5th. What do we see? On the rainy day, the outer covering of the nursery seems to have melted, but the next day, it is back to usual. In other words, that rain that messed up my study scheme last spring has been some kind of a help in visualizing what's inside the tiny nurseries.


Here is another example. This is locus L, seen on May 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. Actually I got two shots on the 3rd, one before and on the point of most visibility. The last shot was on the 4th.

Let's do a bit of walking around. There are a few flowers I haven't pointed out yet. Here is a scene combining May Apple (just about to form its little apples); Celandine Poppies (if you want to cover up a pesky yard, these puppies bloom from April to ... a long time.); and that amazing stand of 7 big red Tulips, one of which has dropped off.

Let's first see the garden of a real Gardener, Kathleen Seidl. See the straight edge on her borders? Don't come look at mine during daylight hours! Second shows how her Daffodils spread and spread. The third picture shows how beautiful the tiniest of mosses can be. Thanks Kathleen!

Let me just invite any of you to send me a couple or three of your favorite views. I'll show them to our friends as a cameo. Meantime, here are some more scenes of my yard. If you are staring at the straight edge of the display, remember I have an excellent yard man living here.

We too have our own choice floral beauties to present. Here is one of our Wide-leafed Grape Hyacinths. Then comes our Japonica, finally in full flower, and hopefully attracting the Baltimore Orioles, which Sheila Lyons-Sobaski says are visiting her yard. Third, my special stash of Garlic Mustard, which I have been watching for the appearance of a special Beetle. There are some minute holes in the leaves already.

Here is the Peony I await especially to see the little ants that unstitch its petals. It will be soon, although there were few buds last year. Then we have the Pulmonaria in bloom which has attracted a large yellow-and-black Bumblebee.

Here are some of the Virgina Bluebells mixed with Celandine Poppy. The Poppy in picture 2 is being visited by a Western Honey Bee.

The Hellebore continues to carry her flowers high. In front of the Hellebore sprout the new flowers of the Epimedium, given me by Cathy Lamb so long ago. Double-click to see the delicate flowers of both.

I've got good news. There are a few handfuls of Columbine leaves, saying life will be good in that part of the side yard for a good while. And I couldn't wait to tell Mary-Ann Cateforis, look what has come up from the ground - the tender vines of the Climbing Fumitory! This may be year two!

Is it Pond time? Well, yes, it's always Pond time. Today was in the 60's F, and the fish were casting amorous eyes around them. Maybe tomorrow! Meanwhile, here are Bunky and Copper, just palling around together having lunch. The Frogs haven't been very happy with the weather, but yesterday I saw a little one of the Greenies hanging around the edge of the pond. Here is also one of the larger ones sitting on top of the escape mechanism.

Here are some fish pictures taken yesterday. What a ham that Pebbles is. But so are Leopard and Stripes. Gosh, I remember when Stripey really looked striped.

Here is what it looks like when I looked up from the fishes. We were sitting under the original John Hart baby Redbud Tree.

That thing I said last week about Love being All You Need, dumdedumdedum, it is really true. You also need the energy to get up out of that bed and go look at all the lovable stuff there is out there.

Love, Martha

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copyright Martha O'Kennon 2022