February 12, 2023

Martha O'Kennon

A week or more since Groundhog Day, and whatever it meant to say about the average low temperature, the highs have been MUCH better. The day starts out cold, but warms up to almost 50 F. So I have actually had a few more pictures worth taking!

After several Ant-less weeks, yesterday there were two different colors of American Winter Ant. The shape of the gasters (last segment) is also different. The gaster of the black one (picture 1) seems much bigger. It could be a sex thing, but I don't know. But HEY! We have Ants again! (At least one day's worth.)

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.

One Beetle - an Asian Lady Beetle - and that one upside down on an upside-down rug - in the House. The Boxelder Bug was also in the house. And the much-maligned Brown Marmorated (Marbled) Stink Bug, also from the house.

Outdoors, on the South Wall, there were several patches of Barklouse eggs, most likely from a Graphopsocus cruciatus, the only Barklouse I've seen in months. Picture 1 shows such a patch. Then, on the 9th and the 11th respectively, here are two Crane Flies. From the pattern on their wings I suspect they are both Winter Crane Flies.

On the 9th, we were visited by two kinds of Loopers (Geometrid Moth larvae). This first one was seen in the Morning and the second in the Afternoon. The Afternoon visitor did a little Adagio routine for us, swaying slowly in the wind on the edge of the South Wall.

A different kind of Moth stayed around for several days (it was still out there today).

Here's a Mystery Critter walking along out there on the 8th. Next is probably the same Critter, but it was so tiny it's hard to be sure. Third is another Mystery on the 11th.

That mysterious Psyllid, which I've found I can't get identified more closely than to its family name Triozidae, was here on the 8th (first) and also on the 11th. Third here is an unidentified Billy Stick.

The spiders didn't desert us. I spotted that Tuberculated Spider several times. They're easy to confuse with the Running Crab Spiders (picture 3) unless you match up the legs.

The legs are so long you could confuse the Tuberculated Crab Spider with the White-striped Running Crab Spider (picture 1) if you didn't notice the legs of the latter seem to be banded with white. So why didn't they call them the White-banded Running Crab Spider? Huh? Picture 2 shows the Tuberculated again so you can see the difference in the legs. Picture 3 shows one of those Crab Spiders that are so hard to differentiate. This one looks sort of like a Bassaniana genus, because the head is almost Heart-shaped.

We really lucked out with three kinds of Springtails. First here is Willowsia nigramaculata. Then two kinds of Elongate Springtails. Whatever they are called, they are a sign of impending Spring.

Last but not least, the Oak Gall Wasps were hanging out yesterday. I saw one in one position in the morning (pictures 1 and 2) and another at (I think) another position in the afternoon (picture 3). My colleague @megachile at iNat is a specialist in Gall Wasps but has moved to Texas, where he is getting pictures of amazing more southerly Wasps and Galls. I am supposed to start collecting the local varieties to send him to analyze and figure out what species they are. They seem to like being around all these little Bur Oak saplings. Thanks to Albion College's Biology Department, who have been supplying me with vials, ethanol, etc. to prepare critters to send to other people with the good equipment for identifying tiny creatures. Now that I know the Post Office won't ship anything with over 9 oz of Ethanol, I don't have to worry about the minute quantities that it takes to fill these tiny vials. :-) Can't wait till the next day warm enough to see them out again!

I want to leave you with some of the Flora that are trying to advance the season. I don't think I've ever seen the Winter Aconites in almost full bloom this early. But I probably have and just forgot! Anyway, here they are. The next two pictures show the two kinds of Grape Hyacinth budding patterns. First are the ones that come up fresh in the Spring, and the second ones are the ones that budded in the Fall and grew under the snow almost ready to bloom!

Here are some of the plants that have been green under the snow. First is a Hellebore leaf, still fresh from last year. Oh! I heard in one of our AALL classes a discussion of plants that deter deer from your garden and apparently Hellebore is one of them. Next are some ferns, also green as they have been all winter! Finally, the Seelys' Snowdrops (that's Greater Snowdrops in case you're interested)! Blooming their snowy little hearts out!

Well, Friends, there is more than plenty to do these days. We are back into AALL season for the month, which is racing past us. We are already getting classes together for the May term! Already! Anyway, I hope you also have a lot to do and also a lot of time to recuperate from it!

Love, Martha

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