April 2, 2023

Martha O'Kennon

Another up-and-down week here. A couple of sunny days. Last night though, while I was in Jackson, news came through that a big thunderstorm was coming. I left while it was still nominally light and took the back roads (the highway slowed to a crawl while I was going Jacksonward, and I pulled off at Spring Arbor to take the back roads.), fighting the bright lights of people who just leave them on all the way wherever they're going. Got home and indoors and heard the biggest BAM I've heard in a long time as lightning must have crashed right above the house! Today it snowed a bit in the midst of the rain. This is April Fool's Day all right!

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.

But several days were Winter Ant days.

I didn't spot any Bees, even on the beautiful Crocuses. But amazingly - a Beetle appeared on the Wall. We haven't had any of those for some time! @borisb of iNat suggested genus Corticaria, one of the Minute Brown Scavenger Beetles. I think that's the first one I've seen of those.

The Eastern Boxelder Bugs haven't deserted us yet, though it's now warm enough that more of them are appearing outside. Second and third, this little Balclutha genus Leafhopper was snacking on some of the nicer-looking Lichens.

The Barklice aren't very much in evidence still out there, even on the North Wall. I figure I have a bit of time left to wait to see very many, and I'm beginning to really miss them. But here are a couple of moults, left over from a couple of nymphs finishing the business of becoming adults. The second one may still be in the process of shedding its old skin. We might as well go to see what we have in the way of Flies. They are very plentiful these days, especially the very small ones. So second here seems to be a black Fungus Gnat, which I believe because of its spiky legs. Same for number 3.

First here are a couple of Fungus Gnats, probably of genus Mycetophila. I DO NOT KNOW what the odd shape of the first one's butt is for. The third one is still another kind of Fungus Gnat.

My favorite Fly about now is this kind of Gall Midge with its subtle coloring, its graceful stance, and its fancy antennae. This last one MAY have some red mites.

The ones that are REALLY known for their susceptibility to those tiny red Mites are the Midges. I believe the last two of these are Non-biting Midges. You probably remember that the second and third are males because of their fluffy antennae.

Since it's getting "warmer", we are starting to get some bigger more familiar-looking Flies. Here is a "Cluster" Fly. It looks about the size of a big House Fly. Third is another House Fly relative. The ID app in iNat suggested Muscina levida.

Another larger Fly that has decided to stick around for a while has been Suillia quinquepunctata. It has been out every day or two this week.

Since we have recently had a number of Winter Crane Flies, genus Trichocera, I can tell you an interesting thing that happened. Picture 1 shows one of the genus that I haven't seen an ID for, but picture 2 turned up this week because a person @stephenluk of iNat had just ID'ed it from February 3, 2019! It's nice that iNat notifies you anytime anyone adds anything to your observations! Anyway picture 2 shows Trichocera bimacula (two spots). The two spots are very faint and hard to make out but that is enough to ID this fly.

Last but not least, an old friend from the past just visited yesterday - one of those lovely little Moth Flies!

Those Moth Flies are really Flies, not Moths at all, but the Loopers, which are caterpillars of a Geometrid Moth, are still out there. Number 2 may be the same as number 1.

A kind of Psylloid that I may have seen before is a tiny little thing about the size of a Barklouse.

Since we re-initiated our Flower Walks last week, let's go in search of all the blooming and growing plant life in our garden. First for now, here you see the Winter Aconite in the back yard finishing up its big Bloom! But meanwhile, around the south side of the house, there is a little patch still blooming up a storm. Third, the Early (maybe Woodland) Crocuses are still blooming for now, but some have already folded.

The Purple Crocus is a couple of weeks later than the Early one, and I love the vibrancy of their outlook in this picture. Early in the day they are still huddled up, but when the Sun shines, they seem almost to be smiling at us.

A few other variety of Crocus are opening in the front yard. Here is the Striped one, followed by a little patch of White Crocus and one Yellow Crocus bud.

Sometimes I wish the White Hellebore in the back yard would lift up its head for the camera, but they don't do that. The Purple ones in the front don't either. For some reason, the Purple Hellebore in the front have found a secure home. This plant is about a yard across in the summer, but the White one has never had more than one, maybe two blooms, and settles down in the back yard. It probably is mentally writing a book about a magnificent White Hellebore that rules the yard.

The Squills in the shady back yard are gradually getting ready to bloom, but I noticed this afternoon that the ones in the front yard on the south side of the big Maple tree in front of the house are already going. In the front yard, we have two kinds of Grape Hyacinths. One starts its leaves under the snow and the second waits till almost Spring to leaf out.

One more scene before we head off to Spiderland. That is of course the Coral Berries on the Coralberry bush, and that's the end of the Flower Walk for this week.

Now for the Spiders. Here's that poor Lyric Cobweaver again, still with the Wasp larva. Next is another Spider that I wrote down as just a plain Cobweb Spider, with no larva on it. The ID app in iNat said it also was a Lyric Cobweaver. It must be a matter of the angle, but at least we know it's not the Lyric Cobweaver with the larva on it. So we had two of them the same day... Aha. I see from the time signature that pictures 1 and 3 were taken at 1:41 pm and picture 2 was taken at 10:24 am on the same day.

This next Spider seemed in some lights to be almost red and in others to be nearly black but with reddish highlights. The first one was taken at 1:48 pm and the second at 2:33 pm. The third, which really does seem to be red, was snapped at 4:38 pm. I think the first and second are one animal and the third another separate one.

Finally for the Spiders, this little whitish one fooled me until I saw the two "eye spots" (clearest in picture 1) and recognized it as one of the Cellar Spiders.

The Springtails were out in force this week. But Both of these first two were identified as the same species, Willowsia nigromaculata. I'm thinking that the third one is the same. They just come in such a variety of colors and patterns that to an amateur they look different.

Here are two more that I haven't gotten identified. The problem is that these little fellows are SO small, only a bit more than a millimeter INCLUDING the antennae. They are almost at the size where a microscope would be helpful.

The pond was frozen and has started to defrost and we have this pattern of cells with three of some kind of dots in each. In picture 2, this pattern is at the far side of the pond. The front is completely defrosted. You can see some fish in this region.

When the day is warmer, the fish come up to try to reach the Sun. But they also love to be near their heater.

So March is nearly over. We should now be finding more signs that Spring is coming. I notice that the water lily plants, which had put out buds earlier in the Winter now look very sad indeed. But maybe one of these days we'll see that they are still alive and looking forward to summer. Never satisfied, are we?

Love, Martha

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