October 16, 2022

Martha O'Kennon

Autumn pushes inexorably on. Who would have thought three weeks ago that it would be so soon and so determined?

The Asters are not blooming in those huge panoramas anymore. But here and there a singleton lights up the scene. And the goldenrod still has a few golden spikes.

The Ants are changing mode in some strange ways. For months if I saw an ant in the usual places with a nice red thorax, I would automatically record it as a Nearctic Ant. But this week the Nearctic Ants did a switcheroo. No red. Apparently this is normal in a perverse way. No stranger, I suppose, than the brightly colored Winter Ant from last week (picture 2), the one that seemed to be running from an ant-mimicking Spider.. Third: say it together: Nearctic Ant.

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.

The variety of Bees seemed to plummet this week as it cooled off. Here is that Western Honey Bee clinging to a bedraggled Aster. And an unknown tiny little Bee on the top of this Goldenrod spear. Similarly for the Beetles, which were mostly represented by Spotted Cucumber Beetles and Redbud Bruchids (Redbud Seed Weevils as they are being called now).

The Bugs were a bit more forthcoming. This was the week the Eastern Box-elder Bugs came out of the woodwork. And the Drymus unus Bugs took advantage of the dying goldenrod to stage their own little Woodstock. Picture 3 shows a rarity - a Drymus unus singleton.

The Leafhoppers are still active. For a while, Erasmoneura vulnerata was the most-seen species on the Wall. The "dotty" Eratoneura outdid them one day. And this Erythroneura mystery turns out to be a variation on E. elegans.

This one has to be a member of genus Erythridula because of its v-pattern. But I couldn't find a species for it. The second one seemed it ought to have been called Erythridula ardens from its resemblance to Eratoneura ardens (picture 3). But it's Erythridula noeva as far as I can tell.

Here is one of the Lygus Plant Bugs - with its pal, one of the Drymus unus. And here are two shots of what turns out to be the 5th instar (stage of growth) of one of the most beloved (NOT) Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs!

Let's take a look at our Barklouse zoo. This will be rather difficult since my camera is once more undergoing problems - that is to say that it refuses to take any more pictures - it may have reached the end of its shutter-life, so I'm exploring (rather Chaim is exploring) some solutions (temporary or final) to getting a camera that will continue to take nice pictures of my beloved creatures in the yard! The reddish nymph on panel 6 seems to have been superseded by an adult of genus Trichadenotecnum. Meanwhile the more encrusted one on panel 13 seems also to have turned into an adult. There seem to me to be quite a few variations on the Trichadenotecnum pattern out there and I'm not sure which ones could have been the panel 13 encrusted one. Picture 1 shows the panel 13 nymph as it was on October 9. On that day, there were a variety of adults. Picture 2 shows one of them. Picture 3 shows an adult from October 10, and the last shows another from that same day. What a bad time to be without a camera so that I could examine the variations better!

Well, maybe we can start to make some sense out of the likely Valenzuela family. First up here seems to be a set of eggs which has one or two remaining nymphs, and the next picture is three days later after the whole egg mass has hatched out with one nymph remaining. Last is a Valenzuela nymph of several day's growth, given the size of its wings.

As usual, the Graphopsocus cruciatus are active in all stages. Often I see an adult and one or more nymphs, as in picture 1. Picture 3 shows a good-sized clutch of eggs.

This week was a slow one for both Polypsocus and Ectopsocus Barklice. Here are a few Ectopsocus meridionalis nymphs and then an adult. There are still plenty of eggs to hatch, when I don't know. I expect any eggs will hatch soon and then the new nymphs will move under the shop for the winter. Third is a lone Polypsocus corruptus adult.

It always seems strange to me that there are a lot of little creatures that start with a "B", then a gap until we get to the Flies. Well, this week we have some exceptions. We have, for instance, a Caterpillar - a Looper at that. This one was clinging to the side of a purple Aster flower. It is actually the larva of a Pug Moth. Again, I don't usually notice the Crickets on the ground but here is a Ground Cricket.

Do you believe this? I was sure we were done with the B's and the C's, but just as I was settling into my pond-side seat outside, a little Bird came down and sat right beside me. As it happened the camera was turned on and it didn't seem to see or hear me raise it and take my one and only chance picture. I thought it was something like a Titmouse, but it turned out to be a Red-breasted Nuthatch. Isn't it precious?? When it finally saw me it took right off and I didn't see it anymore but I could hear it say something like "Twit" as it flew around. I guess it didn't mean me in particular. Here it is.

We start off the Flies, as usual, with a little Crane Fly (and a magnification). Something told me I had seen this one before. It turns out that that was on July 14, 2020, and its name is Bittacus strigosus, the Thin Hangingfly (picture 3).

Then an easy one - a European Greenbottle. And finally, two Mysteries. That's it? That's all the Flies I shot this week.

It would be time for a Flower Walk if we had more Flowers. But we do have a number of Tree pictures with a lot of color. So we'll call it a Tree Walk. If some smaller plants elbow themselves into the picture, call it an extra. So starting at the Back Yard, the first thing that greets our eyes is the almost silent Goldenrod remnant. Competing with the Goldenrod, the Aster with the looper elbows its way into our sight. And after that, we had might as well go back through the house to get to the Front Yard. On the way to the Front Door, we pass my beloved Jadesy, which I'd brought back in at the beginning of October, deciding not to put her through the test last year in which I had hoped that staying out past November 1 would cause her to set buds (it didn't). You can see a few leaves with a bite removed by the Grey Squirrel. Quite a few other leaves were untimely ripped from her stems by said Grey Squirrel.

Out the front door to the Front Yard. There is still an aura of Asters on either side of you as you walk down the sidewalk. But behind the Asters you can still see the reddening of the Euonymus (Burning Bush) on the north side of the walk. Try to imagine the real thing even redder!

If you continue North on the sidewalk and look across the street, you will see a bright yellow Locust Tree in the middle. On the left (south) side of the yellow one is a Maple with reddish-purplish-brown leaves (that's about the color they were in full Summer) and on the right another kind of Maple. Maybe you remember the striking yellow/black striped Locust Borer Beetle that loved to be on the Goldenrod earlier in the Summer. Well, that yellow-leaved tree is what they like to bore. (I'm not sure WHICH part they bore.)

You have been facing West while admiring the Locust tree. Now turn East to the other side of the street. Here you see a red tree, one of the Maples, possibly a Sugar Maple, and to its right you see the outlines of the leaves of a Red Oak Tree. Notice that the Maple has already become red but the Red Oak hasn't begun to change yet. Now turn South. At the end of the street, a Maple tree of some sort has already turned yellow. I thought at first that it would later turn redder, but it only became more uniformly yellow. But what I want you to see in this second picture is that SOME of the leaves of that Red Oak HAVE begun to turn. Picture 3 shows how red the Maple across this street has become already!

That seems to have brought us back to the house, which ends the Tree Walk. I'd hoped that some of the Lily Buds that had been setting in the Pond would get one more chance to blossom, but it's just too cool. Which brings us to an abrupt end to the Flower Walk, and to the beginning of the Spider section. That Cellar Spider is there as usual, and followed by two classic poses of a Common House Spider.

Here's that little Cobweb Spider again. The next picture, showing a Grass Spider, is the first try at using my cellphone to take a picture. It is so disappointing after having used my excellent othe camera for so long without a problem (two years ago it was in the shop for several months and that was the last big time of anxiety). Good thing the Grass Spiders are so large!) Wait, the next picture was also taken with the cellphone and maybe I kept my hand more still this time. But the ID app in iNat called it a Typical Funnel Weaver, and then another user called it a Grass Spider! Maybe that's because the Grass Spiders DO use a woven funnel to go from one part of their web to another.

Last week we had two different Spiders that looked like Mimetus puritanus, the Common Pirate Spider (pictures 1 and 2). Picture 3 is much easier to see as M. puritanus. But it has three body parts instead of two (head and abdomen). That bottom part must either be a piece of a prey item - or - a part of a Spider mating with the one in the top two segments.

One of those Aster pictures contained a tiny little Crab Spider. It is probably genus Mecaphesa and may be the Northern Crab Spider.

Let's see if there were any Wasps this week. The first two pictures show a late return of the Dark Paper Wasp. I love those eyes! Third is a tiny Wasp that was running along on the North Wall.

Let's check out the Pond. Right now it has a net over it to catch the leaves which are starting to fall. I've stopped feeding the fishes. But here are the last of the Fishy pictures.

The Frogs are almost invisible. But here's one of the little guys on the other side of the Pond. And here we see (picture 2) the vegetation on top of the water at the south end. When it dies off I'll have to clip as much as I can reach and get it out of the Pond. Third shows the red leaves and fish before I put down the leaf net.

It was a long week - my beloved camera has now proclaimed its disdain for my habit of taking too many shots of everything - but I've ordered a new shell for it and eagerly await the return of one of my best friends. If it isn't back in business by next week, I may call upon you all to share a few of your wonderful pictures like last time!

Love, Martha

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copyright Martha O'Kennon 2022