April 16, 2023

Martha O'Kennon

NOT the same as last week! For the past few days, the temperature has been above 70F at midday. I've opened a window and blown cooler air in at night. Our favorite creatures are gently flooding back. All the early Spring crocuses are a memory. Here is just a sampling of the flowers of this week: a tiny Daffodil huddled with a grape hyacinth, a pink Hyacinth, and the May Apples just fully open.

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 again 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 Winter Ants, who didn't show up last week, were equally absent this week. But the Nearctic Ants are back. It really helps when they are displaying the reddish segment, mostly right behind the head. Picture 3 has no red that I can see, but the shape is Nearctic.

Here's an old friend, the Odorous House Ant. This next Ant is in subgenus Crematogaster. Last is one in genus Myrmica.

The Beetles are slowly starting to move in. First and second here are Minute Brown Scavenger Beetles. Next is a very plain brown beetle - a very strange thing to observe is that it doesn't seem to have a split between the two hard wings. This last one surprised me - it was indoors and very hard to get into the container. Turns out to be - can you guess? (I couldn't) - one of the Rove Beetles (in genus Aleochara) with the shortest wings I've ever seen! I thought it might be a larva for some other creature.

This first one is a very tiny Carpet Beetle, which was walking across some furniture. Second was also indoors on the kitchen floor and would NOT slow down for me bending over to try to focus on it way down there! Oh! A surprise! A few years ago, Boris Bueche identified this little Beetle, Phyllotreta ochripes, as the one that loves Garlic Mustard, sometimes to death! Finally last year, I found its tiny grubs in the Garlic Mustard, having its way with it! This one must have arrived a bit before the Garlic Mustard has gotten big enough to notice, since I haven't seen any of it yet!

This first one was sitting on the kitchen floor when I came in a few minutes ago (Saturday). Since it is the size and shape of a Lady Beetle, I am temporarily calling it "Black Lady Beetle". Second seems to be a Picnic Beetle. I wish I had caught a follow-up picture since the first one was a bit fuzzy! The last one is a Redbud Seed Weevil as they are saying today instead of Redbud Bruchid!

The Bugs are also starting to come out more often. First we look at some of the carnivorous ones, like this Pale Green Assassin Bug (Zelus luridus). It will change from reddish-orange to greener and greenish brown. Note that it has red eyes, so is not the OTHER Michigan species of Assassin Bug, which we saw last week. I'm showing you that one (picture 2) from last week so you can compare them. Now for a surprise! The last picture shows you another kind of carnivore, the Nabis Roseipennis Damsel Bug. I love the detail down near its face, so click once or twice to admire it.

As I was turning the North-West corner one morning, I thought I saw yet ANOTHER Assassin Bug. But upon cropping the picture, I finally saw that this was no Assassin Bug, but a Stilt Bug (2 pictures), probably of genus Jalysus. A page from Bugguide says this genus feeds on some Moth eggs! So it's at least partially assassin material! In picture 3 we see still another member of the family of Assassin Bugs, by a slightly different route. It's one of the Thread-legged Bugs. I only spotted it once this week, a very tiny nymph, at the stage where one can't count upon many people to agree, but since I hold the exalted title of Top Identifier of this Bug (7 individuals), I'll just pull rank and say it IS that very Bug. We'll see it in a few weeks all grown up if we keep our eyes open. (If you can't make out the Bug in this photo, click on it to see it outlined in red.)

Speaking of Assassins, we had this Brown Lacewing the other day. They love to scarf down Aphids, and may have helped end the century of Aphids a couple of years ago. This one is NOT a BUG, but I'm putting its mug shot here to help fill out your list of villains. (Remember a villain may actually help the ecosystem. Somebody has got to take out the really destructive ones.) That's your relativism for the week.

If you remember last week, I'd found a Bug in the Lygus genus (picture 1). So when I saw one that looked similar this week, I submitted it to iNat as a Lygus Bug. But this time, the people who know their stuff on iNat decided it was really a related (but not Lygus) Bug, Agnocoris rubicundus.

Three more Bugs. This first one is the White-margined Burrowing Bug. Second is Acanthocephala terminalis. (The "terminalis" stands for the orange tips of its antennae.) Third is the Western Conifer Seed Bug. Note: these last two Bugs are both members of the family of Leaf-footed Bugs. (Look on each to see the "Leaves" that seem to be attached to their hind legs.)

The Barklice are still lying low, waiting for their big chance to repopulate the lower foot and a half of the North Wall. So everything in this category is still in the form of eggs. Picture 1 shows three Barklouse eggs by a clump of Lichen. The other two sites have looked like this for several weeks - they seem to representth a nest of eggs about to hatch into nymphs, and I'm betting on Graphopsocus cruciatus.

So we have the Flies to ponder. I'll start with the most startling - a Stalk-eyed Fly, Sphyracephala brevicornis. I THINK this is the first time I've seen something like this.

Here we see a Muscoid Fly, which you probably guess means a Fly that looks like a Fly. This one that looks like a Black Blow Fly we saw a week or two ago (picture 2). They are both members of the Calyptrate Fly zoosection (another kind of division). So is the Root-maggot Fly in picture 3.

Here are a batch of Midges. The third one is a Gall Midge.

Sadly, many of the little tiny flies with the colorful heavily WIP'ed wings were NOT FLIES at all, but tiny Encyrtid Wasps! Thanks to Stephen Luk for pointing this out! I'm not sure what Fly number 1 is, but the last two are some of those little Wasps!

For a break in tradition, the Loopers either left or became Moths and flew away! But we did get one kind of Moth, the Maple Trumpet Skeletonizer Moth. Oh, and a Casebearer Moth!

So don't you think we deserve a Flower Walk? Well, in the front yard, here are those Coralberries, still uneaten by Birds. A tiny Daffodil and a Grape Hyacinth huddle together in solidarity. Finally, a small batch of Grape Hyacinths.

Kathleen Seidl always has the best garden I know of, and this is her set of three differently-colored Hellebores. Next is my beloved Purple one.

This first one is the Grape Hyacinth Latifolia variety, named for its very wide leaves. And as we walk from the front yard to the back, we pass the Japonica suddenly flowered out!

Here in the Back Yard, you see what happens if you allow your Celandine Poppy to grow to its heart's content.

Eleanor Rosenthal gave me the originals of the Pulmonaria that is so happy in the Back Yard. Hi Eleanor!

The May Apples were here when I moved in in 1988, and have prospered in the shady places. The last two pictures show the ones big enough to have two leaves and that is where the tiny "apple" develops.

The Squills are too good to last long, and are quickly drying up both in Front and in Back. But the Yellow Trillium is happy in the far back, where it's almost impossible to walk without a cane.

The pink Hyacinths are beautiful if a bit small for being in too much shade. Oh! Here is one of the many Virginia Bluebell plants that were already here when I moved in.

Just back from our Flower Walk, we head for the Spiders! I've never seen so many Spiders that I missed over the preceding years. There are so many knowledgeable people on iNat and they have helped me see through many intriguing pictures to some amazing Spiders. Just as last week ended, the Common House Spider with the miserable Wasp Larva attached stopped appearing on the North Wall. Wonder where she got to! Then for a few days I saw this blue-black Spider without ever finding out what it was.

For several days, this tiny Orbweaver had her web on the South Wall right below eye level. She turns out to be the Conical Trashline Orbweaver (Cyclosa conica).

This little fellow ran all around the North Wall as I followed it with the camera. It is the Latticed Sheet-web Weaver (Neriene clathrata).dei@paolosol of iNat ID'ed it because of the funny shape of the male pedipalp.

This Jumping Spider was out there for one afternoon. It is probably in genus Pelegrina. Second and third are likely to be one of the Ground Crab Spiders (genus Xysticus).

It's not a Spider, but is an Arachnid. It's a Trombidium Mite. A gorgeous but tiny creature that runs like a demon all over the wall. Not as fast as the Whirligig Mites, but impressive anyway.

Yesterday late afternoon, I saw this tiny creature, about a millimeter long, running almost as crazily as the Mite above. It turns out to be something I saw three years ago, an odd thing called a Thrip. This one may turn out to be Elaphrothrips tuberculatus, which is what the other one was.

So let's check out the Frogs. Here are five of them in a long line. If you click on the picture you can get some help visualizing them. Hint: the fourth from left to right is just showing his nose. Did I mention how much I love these guys?

Here's another picture with 5 frogs. The first three are playing pile-up. What IS the name of that game in which when one kid finds another, she piles into the other's hiding place until the hiding place can hold no more? That's the situation with the first three frogs on the left, all piled on each other.

The fishes are happy now that I'm feeding them a little bit twice a day. Now that we've got the pump running, it makes great phantasmagoric background action.

What a week! I never thought I'd be able to show all the creatures that are coming day by day. Life is so much more when you can feel yourself in the midst of a great show. And you are! Come by and help me enjoy it!

Love, Martha

Back to April 9, 2023

Forward to April 23, 2023

Back to main menu

copyright Martha O'Kennon 2023