November 20 and 27, 2022

Martha O'Kennon

Last week I ended this first observation about the weather by saying, "But Sunday morning gave us Snow and 35 F!" Well, this week ended the same as or worse than last week: A fierce snowstorm on Friday all day. It was expected to continue through early morning Saturday, which is where I'm writing from right now. Surprise! There is Sun in the sky, even though it is only about 35F. When I looked through my pictures of the week, my heart crackled - there weren't enough living beings that had let themselves get caught in the lens of the camera (and made decent pictures) to fill out a normal blog. So I decided to see if I could present things in the order in which they presented themselves and see if it could be salvaged into a two-week overview of the way Autumn works its way toward Winter.

I'll let the pond tell the story. Here it is on November 17, with just a touch of blurriness on the right side as the water begins to turn to slush, followed by the same scene a few hours later, with advancing slushiness on the surface.

The only Ant we saw this week was (appropriately) the Winter Ant. And this was only on one day, the 15th.

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.

Beetles? Well, there was this Asian Lady Beetle that had gotten into the house. It had chosen to die on an orange patch of my tablecloth, which gives it a shocking view!

What about the Bugs? Well, there were a couple of creatures called (by me) Leafhoppers. Where are all the OTHER Leafhoppers we saw just a week ago? Like this beautiful and somewhat rare Eratoneura palimpsesta seen on November 7? Well, from what I hear, Leafhoppers are likely to overwinter as adults, so think of them as having snuck off to hide under something or inside something but capable of waking up later when it isn't so cold again.

Once it warmed up on the 23rd, new bugs started to appear. First our old friend Drymus unus, followed by a Damsel Bug, one of the assassins. It must have thought warm days meant a fuller menu. Third is a weird new Bug, probably one of the Dirt-colored Seed Bugs, but look at the shape of its thorax.

The Barklouse scene has also shrunk to include a very small number of examples, most recognizably the Graphopsocus cruciatus. Here are some of their eggs. Picture 2 shows the set of eggs with two (maybe three) moults left when two nymphs became adults. Third shows two nymphs.

First here is an adult G. cruciatus, surrounded by snowflakes. Next is an empty moult. I used to think these were bug nymphs, but now age has convinced me otherwise! Third, I don't know why we so often see two adults together (or for that matter, why we see so many pairs of nymphs).

Any Flies on the plate this week? Well, of course the regulars - here's one of them - a Crane Fly. But why does it only have four legs? After resting somewhere for a whole week, here it is back again! (How did we know it is the same one?) Next is a Midge, a female since the antennae aren't fluffy.

The Moth Flies seem to be simpler these days. (They seem to change guards in the winter.)

What are these? Flies? Bugs? I can't seem to get anyone who knows for sure. Right now I am submitting these pictures as possible Wooly Aphids or Gall-making Aphids! Finally @nmhernandez concurs that this is about as good as it gets with identifying Wooly Aphids.

Amazing! On November 22, two Leafhoppers finally show up after a week of absence. (Well, it probably wasn't that surprising, since the temperature that day got into the 50's F.) Anyway, here we see one of the genus Balclutha and one from the tribe Empoascini!

On the 23rd, the case-dwelling Moth larva is active again. There is another thing (picture 3) that seems to hang out near them. MJ, is this some kind of case Creature too?

Back to the Pond. The 18th and 19th we had that two-day snowfall that laid a layer several inches deep on everything outdoors. Fortunately on the 17th, when the Pond developed a layer of slush on top, What timing. First the leaves had fallen so that there weren't many more to fall, and so I hauled the leaf net out of the pond, dug into the deck chest and lugged out the floating Pond heater and flung it into the pond. Now there is a fairly deep layer of ice on the Pond, except for a couple of feet out from the heater.

The 20th was bright and cold. It seemed like what we expect in January. Today the sky was reflected in the clear ring of water around the heater.

On the 23rd, the ice began to melt in the Pond. But here's a puzzle - do you see a Parrot in there? Picture 2 shows a Fish hiding under the melting ice.

Here are the Frozen landscape pictures from the time when it was so cold. We added a few colorful berry pictures in order to call this our Color Walk for the week, er, two week period. Here are the Coral Berries, Euonymus seeds, and Oriental Bittersweet.

Out front we see one of the plants that seem to love Winter: possibly a Christmas fern. I go in to warm up my hands and see the one we haven't mentioned for quite some time: Jadesy! She has recovered from her attack of frostbite from last year! But she still isn't setting flower buds. I don't know if you remember this, but her mother plant (off which she was pinched) had flowers for years. I gave that one away and am still waiting till Jadesy grows impossibly large (too large to be carried in the back door in the fall) and then maybe she will set buds! Picture 3 shows her mom on November 25, 2015 with lots of little buds. She would be in bloom by February! Don't worry, Jadesy, I can wait - for a while!

Back from that short Color Walk, here we see our omnipresent Common House Spider. And one that I spotted on the north-east corner of the Wall - an infant Mangora placida - one of the winter-loving little Spiders. Slim pickings Arachnid-wise speaking. After a melting spell, I also found this tiny Spider - it seems to be a Long-bodied Cellar Spider.

But HERE are some Spiders we can look forward to - They were on the Wall in other years at about this time. First, a juvenile Orchard Orbweaver (Leucauge venusta); an unpacked Horned Parasitic Cobweaver (Neospintharus trigonum); and a member of genus Grammonota, all from 2019. We have time to await their reappearances.

One of the most beautiful Spiders (pictures 1 and 2 here) is the mostly bright green Long-jawed Spider (Tetragnatha viridus). It also has some stunning red ornaments. Third here is one of those flabby-legged Wolf Spiders (wait- we did see one of those last week - so maybe we will be seeing the other beauties in another week or two!). I just didn't want you to feel neglected by the Spiders. I wonder if there aren't a collection of Weather predictions based on the Spiders you see in a given week!

November 23, 2022. The Winter Ants, who had disappeared for a week already, were back today.

The Winter Ants remained through the 26th. I love their delicate-looking bodies (As you know from past episodes that delicacy is a disguise - they are quite capable of snagging all sorts of lunch.) Here is one for each day from the 24th through the 26th. The first one seems hairier than the others, but I'm sure that is a function of the angle from which shot. The second has a very large gaster (bum). The third seems to be using its bum and head as mirrors - wonder what they are reflecting!

Well, here we are. We began with the Ants as usual and are closing with them too! Yesterday was Turkey Day at the Kalamazoo cousins, always a raucous and interesting gathering. We polished off the leftovers very quickly, and are back to just raiding the fridge to keep ourselves going. I've managed with the help of my thyroid to stay at my current stage of fatness and can still retrieve myself from the ground if I don't hit it too hard! It's still a shock to the system to watch how much faster the days go by! Hope YOU are not knocked over by all that time-whooshing!

Love, Martha

We close with the now-melted pond reflecting the leafless trees above it.

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copyright Martha O'Kennon 2022