May 14, 2023

Martha O'Kennon

Speaking of weather, it got into the low 80's F this week. Sumer is a-kumin in, as they used to say. But it's not here yet. Today it has been dark and not hot, making picture-taking dependent on some kind of lighting mechanism, which I'm not sure is working most of the time. Well, so what! This is what we call progress. The Garlic Mustard, which I was hoping to be controlled by the Phyllotreta ochripes Beetles, has obviously not been completely or even partly controlled! Meanwhile, the Solomon's Seal flowers are out there attracting Hummingbirds for someone who has a clear view of the plant. And the Wild Geraniums are blooming gently under the canopy of a more overbearing plant.

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 had their problems down in the ground. It seemed that every time they tried to re-open the entrance to their nest, down came the rain and closed that hole up. But here is one on the Wall. The others on this line are Nearctic Ants, which can sometimes be detected by a reddish tint on the segments, and sometimes cannot. Some seem to be just black.

Sometimes if you blinked your eyes you would find that an Ant had turned into an Odorous House Ant, as in picture 1. But other times you would see that an Ant has turned out to be an Ant-mimic Spider, as in numbers 2 and 3. The shapes of the abdomens are very similar in pictures 1 and 2, but the Spider is the one with the writing on it. You have got to keep your eyes open for that mimicry! I always get a good laugh at myself when I get fooled!

So unless the Ants did a good job on fooling us, that seems to be the end of the Ants of the Week. But we did see a few Bees. Of course, they all turned out to be Western Honey Bees, since that turns out to be the ONLY Honey Bees we get around here!

How about the Beetles? Well, since I've let my Redbud population grow beyond my original plan, the Redbud Bruchids are also quite populous now. Here is one. Next is another kind of Weevil (Like the Redbud Bruchid) and yet another kind. I'd say the Weevils owned the Week for the Beetles this time. This second one is a Clover Leaf Weevil. I see them about this time in many years. Third is yet another kind of black Weevil.

We do have other kinds of Beetles besides Weevils. Here is one of my favorite ones, called a Puffball Beetle, and recognizable not because of some kind of puffball, but because of the antennae, which have some prongs aiming off from the plane of the rest of the antennae. We also had a rather nice Green Beetle (not necessarily its real name) and oh yes, Phyllotreta ochripes, the nibbler of Garlic Mustard.

The Bugs were rather scarce this week. Even the very tiny picture of this member of genus Eratoneura is somewhat faint. So let's see if there are ANY pictures of Barklice. Well, first we have another shot of those Barklouse eggs that seem to indicate some kind of hatching. Do you see anything? Me neither. But look here at the third picture - this is our first Barklouse after weeks, months of watching. It's Ectopsocus meridionalis, a fairly common Barklouse around here. Even as Fall was falling into Winter, we kept seeing egg masses of E. meridionalis on the lower North Wall. And here is our first Barklouse of the Spring! As a matter of fact, this Barklouse seems to have spent a rough winter somewhere. (They say the Barklice over-winter as adults, and I'll bet that's why this one seems to have been through the mills.

Let's see what the Flies have for us. There were still quite a few of that one I was calling the Fungus Gnat of the Week. In fact, we even got to see a pair of them mating on the Wall. Picture 3 shows a different species but still a Fungus Gnat.

More Fungus Gnats. I like this red-winged one. And this long-cloaked one. And of course this WIP'ed one.

It always happens here. As we transition from April to May, we suddenly see March Flies! Here we see a male Bibio femoratus (so named because its femora are reddened). The female is much taller but her eyes are much smaller, something that happens with many Flies. Picture 3 seems to be a mysterious creature, but it's really just the female B. femoratus.

Here are some "Fly-shaped Flies". The third is called a "Maggot-root Fly". The last was just labeled as "muscoid fly".

We had again several Large Crane Flies. We can usually assume the male is much smaller than the female.

These red-eyed little flies are so attractive. Last week we had one that wasn't quite so rosy - ID'ed as Scaptomyza pallida.

These beautiful little green midges are back. They never get ID'ed except to tribe Tanytarsini, but I just love the color. The third beautiful little golden one is probably not in the tribe, but exotic nonetheless.

The Midges are beginning to look more Mosquito-y. This first one is a female and has a sharp-looking proboscis. The second is a male - look at those bushy antennae.

This is the proof. Today I spotted this Bathroom Moth Fly! I do believe this is the first one I've seen since Fall.

Here is another real Moth, although I can't seem to find an ID for it. Third is that former Gypsy Moth, now changed to Spongy Moth, larva. I can agree with the switch away from Gypsy, but think "spongy" is pretty strange. They are all over the place now. I mean ALL OVER. Finally, here is the Looper of the Week.

So let's take a shortish Flower Walk, just to clear the Flies from our vision. I want to start with the Money Plant, just because of its beautiful pink color. Here it's in twilight colors mixed with all that Lily-of-the-Valley.. Next is that huge Sun and Substance Hosta, the largest Hosta in the yard. My Hosta is pretty much faded out, but the foliage is still lively.

I still don't know what the pure green plant is out front - with its leaves arranged into a green starburst. Hopefully we'll find out soon. The Rose Primrose is still going, and the Solomon's Seal is swinging its little flowers.

That Poppy plant is still pregnant with its orange flower, as we get onto the path to the gate. We pass the Columbine and its companion Garlic Mustard. I know people hate the Garlic Mustard, but isn't it a pretty picture?

Just past the gate, you can see how the Dame's Rocket is getting ready to bloom. A little further and you come to the plants in front of the deck. The mauve Primrose is leafing out. The Wild Geranium is blooming in the shade of a bushy green cover.

So, back from a fairly short Flower Walk, let's see our Spiders. One of the most interesting Garden aspects has been the changes in our Humped Trashline Orbweavers' trashline. Here are three days' worth. The Spider in each of these lines is the one just before the bottom, the one with the legs! It seems the trashline forms from top to bottom. We've been lucky enough to be able to follow this one for a couple of weeks. These three pictures represent the line from May 7 to May 9 to May 11.

I already mentioned this Ant-mimic Spider back up in the Ants Section, but hey, they're so much fun. So here is that Ant-mimic Sac Spider (genus Castianeira) again.

This first one is a mystery. It has good bones, but I never found another picture that might help to identify it. The second one is too dark to ID, but it is GREEN! And many of the Spiders we ran into this week seem likely to be happy to be called "Cobweb".

Both of these two Spiders are Crab Spiders, but of different genera as well as species.

We saw our share of Dwarf Spiders too. In picture 3 you see a tiny Harvestman (Daddy-long-legs), the first of the new season.

Here is a young Flea Jumping Spider (Naphrys pulex). It is just enough like the next one to be able to say that second one (pictures 2 and 3) is an even younger one. This is my most commonly seen Jumping Spider. As with Mimetus puritanus, I like to collect the most extreme shots for purposes of identification. :-)

The weather has been so variable that all the Frogs that have shown up this Spring tend to hide out until they decide it's time for them to counted. So far we've seen five or six, ranging from the huge ones to some very small ones who might be the next stage for those little fellows we've seen around since last year's ones that were small enough to be able to sit on a lily pad. Since the Lily leaves are still so very fragile, I'm still waiting. Meanwhile, here's a photo with five frogs circled to show there are at least five of them left. (This picture was taken last week to show the pond as the redbud petals fall upon it.)

Here we see two Frogs sitting side by side, but with the leftmost almost completely obscured by a huge rock. Picture 2 shows two Frogs, one good-sized (click on it to show the Frogs in their correct relative dimensions. Last is one of the smaller Fishes, maybe one that I labeled "tiny" last summer.

The Fishes are very glad now to be able to get a small meal several times a day. Since it is still not very warm, I go out every once in a while to sing to them (they already remember the tune to Here, Fishy, Fishy, Fishy) and give them a nice snack. Here they are at twilight.

A couple more fishy pictures, just to show you the activity and color they bring to the Pond.

Here we are at the end of another week at the Pond. It makes me so happy to be able to bring you all these living beings.

Love, Martha

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copyright Martha O'Kennon 2023