July 23, 2023

Martha O'Kennon

Yes, Summer is here. Still. We in lower Michigan have so far been spared the horrendous heat that has plagued most of the northern hemisphere. But we realize that this may come to an end this coming week. I didn't know it was going to overtake us this fast. We've made so many mistakes and are only at the beginning of trying to slow the heat and storms and flooding. But let's see how things are here and now. The lilies that we planted three years ago are blooming more successfully now. Part of the reason is that Rocky Raccoon received a number of deterrents in the evenings, including a deck light and radio turned on all night long. The water spout is turned off for the night. And, most effectively, the spray of Coyote urine on the rocks all around the pond. They really are afraid of Coyotes. This has slowed down their assault on the frogs and the lily pads and flower buds. Last night, however, they crunched into one of the lily flowers. What's a mother to do?

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 Ants have gotten so fast it is hard to get good shots of them, but here are a couple of Nearctic Ants that were identified by @mettcollsuss of iNat. Third is a blue-black Ant that was running along the aged deck hand-railings. Unfortunately, the bright red Aphids on the Goldenrod already seem to have almost disappeared. I had felt encouraged when an identifier on iNat called them Red Goldenrod Aphids. Then another identifier said better to stick to the genus Uroleucon. So we must skip the Aphids for a while, except for this last picture.

The Beetles were fortunately a bit more visible. First a Firefly. Then a Japanese Beetle, and two unknown Beetles (so far).

The Bugs were a bit more forthcoming. Here is a member of genus Lasiomerus, one of the predatory Damsel Bugs. Then the Bug on top of that huge Blackberry, which is a nymph of the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. Last is still a Mystery.

The Leafhoppers were quite interesting this week. For some reason, this is the year of the Aphrodes genus of Leafhoppers. The first slide shows two Aphrodes leafhoppers mating. Next we see another mystery Aphrodes of a lovely shade of blue with white stripes. Number three is another Aphrodes Leafhopper, which may in fact be Aphrodes makarovi. Fourth is a Japanese Maple Leafhopper.

First here is a Scaphoideus leafhopper. And finally, a Mystery Bug which seems to be changing form.

A new Barklouse on the horizon. This is the shaggy one, Echmepteryx hageni, which finally raised its head this past week.

The exceedingly difficult-to-pronounce name "Trichadenotecnum" slipped off my lip this week when I saw the adult that had sneakily appeared on the North Wall yesterday.


Have you spotted any Valenzuela flavidus adults or nymphs lately? I think this might be one (picture 1), just going by the yellow color. What about this next one? It MIGHT be a Metylophorus novae scotiae nymph. Of course, we are still seeing Graphopsocus cruciatus adults and nymphs (picture 3).

Before we move on to the Flies, I saw another nice Dragonfly for you. This is as white as its tail could get in this light. It is the female Common Whitetail.

So NOW let's move on to the Flies. Here are some that look like houseflies.

If this isn't called a Goldbottle, it ought to be. Same for the Green beauty that follows. The next is another of those long-legged Flies.

Love was in the air for the Humpbacked Flies. I don't know if the reference to "humpback" is a sly jab at their favorite activity. Almost every time I find a pair of Flies in conjugal bliss, they turn out to be Humpbacked Flies.

This HUGE Fly is a Clubbed Mydas Fly. I've seen them dying but never alive until this one condescended to let me immortalize it. They can cover a lot of distance with those huge blue wings. Really! They are just about as large as they seem at this magnification.

We end the Flies with a couple of really small ones. The first one is TINY and colorful. Second is a very small Mosquito. And third MAY be the tiny Vinegar Fly.

Let's take our traditional Flower Walk. Right next to the chair I sit in to admire the pond is the smallest plant I have blooming now. It's the Asiatic Day Flower, and is the closest to sky blue as I've ever seen. Actually, the blossom of the Deptford Pink in the front yard is even smaller.

If you want big posies, you want a nice Day Lily like this Common Orange one. Or this Hibiscus with the enormous Pink-red blossoms. Too bad they only put out that flower once - tomorrow it will be gone. (The change from Shocking Pink to Ruby Red is a matter of the light.)

By the Way, the leaves of the Hibiscus attract the most gorgeous Augochlora Bees. Since we're belatedly talking about Bees, here is a Honey Bee in some Spiderwort. Third here is the Lantana, reblooming in the deck box.

The Bee Balm on the deck is now reblooming - I didn't realize for a while that the blooms need to be pinched off to allow more flowers! Here are the ripening Blackberries or whatever is the fruit of that self-planting Bramble (picture 3).

Here are a few more Flowers for us. In the front yard, my Sun and Substance Hosta has added some flower buds. And in the far back yard, the Rose Malva that Hamsa Mukundan gave me years and years ago (thanks again Hamsa!) surprised me yesterday, showing that it really came out a week ago!

Another surprise. Kathleen Seidl and I like to share pictures of our plants, and a week ago she sent me a shot of her Japanese Anemones (picture 1), showing 5 or 6 buds. Mine are usually quite a bit later to bloom, but yesterday I purposely went out to check on mine. I found I have one bud on mine this year! Already!

The Spiders have been hiding out from me. However, here is a Cellar Spider hanging out on a dark section of the Wall. Next are a few kinds of Crab Spiders.

We seem to still have 6 Frogs: 2 smallish ones; 2 largish males, including Tonguey; and a couple of nice females, almost the same size as the males. Here picture 3 is just of one of the females. I'm going by the eardrum to eye size ratio.

The time to photograph the Fishes is just before you feed them. They will be clamoring for food when you come over and call the "here fishes" song.

Here's one of the best views of the pond with a couple of frogs on top of some of the Lily pads. This scene, obtained by sprinkling Coyote urine on the rocks around the pond, was the result of a non-invasive attempt to dissuade the Raccoon or Raccoons from eating the lily flowers and killing frogs or fishes. Unfortunately nothing is perfect, so I also lug my only radio down from my bedroom to the deck to let NPR consider so many things it must drive the Raccoon(s) crazy. I plan to get an all-weather radio to put closer to the Pond. And keep the deck light on all night. Nothing is perfect.

Here's another view of the pond.

Summer is here, and we expect that the attention of Nature to us loyal humans will soon find us on its instruments. Unfortunately most people in the hottest places have no way to cool off. We lucky ones who do at least temporarily must work with the thinking and altruistic people with the means to effect the changes we need in order to survive. Please work to save our planet now.

Love, Martha

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copyright Martha O'Kennon 2023