April 16, 2017
It's still April. The crocuses are just about over, but they were pretty while they lasted. This light purple one is the last of the lot. But surprise - this year we had TWO daffodils blooming. The squirrel must have divided the one bulb that has been here since I moved into the house. The redbud tree is budding up bigly now.
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Lots of ants this week. But just to show you how different closely related ones can look: First and third seem to be one of the Carpenter or Sugar Ants, which tend to have that reddish tint to the second segment. The middle one is a Small Honey Ant, the tipoff being that big pointy abdomen/gaster.
This little (about 4 mm long) fellow, here snapped on the front porch bricks, is actually more orange than this image implies. It is a member of the genus Lasius. And this little ectomorphic (skinny) ant looks like the poster child for undereating. He was also darting about so fast that all my pictures of him were a bit blurry! It is the worker of the Small Honey Ant.
But there was one huge ant that I didn't recognize and I also was stymied and horrified at what was happening to her. It seems she has something clinging to her wings from underneath, which I finally was able to shoot in the last image. It looked to me that the two tiny tiny flies (or so,l, I thought) were mating and one would be inserting her eggs into the Jumbo winged ant. That sort of thing does happen, you know. I wrote a quick note to Researchgate.net and asked if anyone knew what was going on. Rinaldo Nicoli Aldini, a professor in Milan, Italy, wrote to say that the ant looked like Genus Prenolepis,and that so were the little "flies", who were in all actuality the males of the ant species: this same member of the species of ant, instead of being huge and orange, is actually many times smaller and black. It seems the two males were sparring for rights to the lovely queen, and that if I had stayed a while longer, I might have witnessed the mating flight, where the male with enough energy to follow the queen longest wins the distinction of the one who will pass along his genes. Much nicer that if the ant were about to be attacked by parasites! I then remembered that I had seen another of the queens, but at a point where she had already dropped her wings and was hurrying underground to start a fresh family of her own. It turns out that this is indeed Prenolepis imparis, the Small Honey Ant, formerly called the False Honey Ant. And the little black ones are indeed males.
The next few entries are mysteries. First one seems to be a very tiny barklouse. Then comes a rather large beetle of some sort, possibly a kind of lady beetle, and third, an olive-green metallic beetle.
The nearly invisible little beetle is apparently one we might be able to identify with a bit of scrambling around. This weevil is bigger than the little beetle but I haven't ID'ed it yet. But we do know this last one - again it's the redbud bruchid, the little weevil that gets into the pods of redbuds and eats the seeds from inside the pod!
A grey assassin bug climbed up the siding. Even though it has green tones to its abdomen, it does NOT have red eyes and so is a different species from the ones we usually see (Zelus luridus). Look carefully at its husky arms, just for snagging prey, and its rostrum or beak, stashed under its "chest". Next is a damsel bug, which is likewise a predator of smaller insects. Its rostrum is also curled under its body.
The Arboridia leafhopper visited once, and so did the Eratoneura leafhopper. A good-sized stinkbug paid us a quick visit. Its visit was quick as soon as I spotted it walking on the perimeter of my laptop's screen. (This just in: One of our new members, Mauri Ditzler, noted that that innocuous stinker was in fact the Brown Marmorated Stinkbug! And he was right! My rule has been never to kill an insect visitor, but I hear these particular stinkers, being introduced aliens, are very hard on some important food crops, so in the future I plan to get rid of them (after looking them up).)
This first one is still a mystery, although I was getting hot on its trail in Bugguide.net yesterday. I used to think the black bug with the white margins was a kind of stinkbug, but now I see it is on another path down the family tree guide in Bugguide.net.
Let's look at some of the flowers. The hyacinths are at their peak. The good thing about not having a lot of any one thing is that you get to take a lot of cameo pictures.
Here is a comfy-looking case with something golden or orange peering out from it. By the way, I saw in Bugguide.net a remark from one of the experts, and this is what he said:
"From what I understand about bagworms...
The female bagworm will live her entire life in her bag. The male will undergo metamorphoses and emerge as a moth. The female will develop her young in the bag with her until they are old/big enough to leave and build their own bag."
… Ron M., 5 May, 2008 - 9:45pm
copyright Ron M., who doesn't use his last name.
Next is an inchworm that we see here every once in a while - it will develop into a geometrid moth. Next is a real mystery to me. Next is one that dropped down from the blue spruce behind the workshop on a fine line. I pushed the line temporarily to the siding in order to photograph it.
The quantity of KINDS of flies keeps increasing. Here are two with similar wing markings, but how different they look. That's because the one with the big big eyes is a male, and the one with the smaller eyes on either side of the head is a female. On the other hand, the second one has white-tipped antennae so they might NOT be the same species. The mating pair at the end of this row have the same markings as number one. But the male of this species (on top) doesn't look much different from the female.
This little red-eyed one came to tea, that is to sit just under the rim of my coffee cup. Here is our familiar black midge with greyish wings, but look also at this new one! It is humongous! About 6-8 mm as opposed to the tiny 2 mm ones and the step-up ones of 3 or 4 mm.
Here is a male gall midge. I didn't see any mating activity among them this week. This dark gold mosquito is looking for you, and the last one on this row looks to me like a kind of Marsh Fly (not to be confused with March Fly).
We've seen this first one, but not identified it conclusively. The green of this one's thorax is dulled by contiguity with the green porch siding. And last is a fly (or a pair, guessing from the length of the image) which have fallen into the pond and are doing the breast stroke to stay afloat.
We have seen this tiny fly before. I can't see the abdomen well from this one, but suspect it is a flesh-eating fly (doesn't bite humans, but clears up carrion). This tiny block-print winged fly seems to be aiming for whatever those tasty-looking globs are right there!
A lacewing stirring at end of day, getting ready for a night of getting to know the garden inhabitants better. Its colors are a cool blend of red, blue, and black. This moth landed on the front porch brickwork just as I was standing there.ir
A few mysteries. These first two are of the same fly-? Any clues on the third one?
Predator? Prey? Leftovers? Alien life forms? Orange eggs? Whose?
What is that thing? A Chinese dim-sum? A mass of white fluff minus two dots? I saw these two entangled critters as they hit the water!
A couple of pictures of interacting waves caused by multiple fish cavorting in the water. You can enlarge twice by pressing the picture twice.
A pillbug and a sawfly. Spooky looking on while Tripper and Bunny enjoy each others' attention (and warmth).
As a reward for your patience, some swell spiders. First a Common House Spider, then a CHS wrapping up a nice gall midge for din-din. Last: a Pirate Spider. If the little white dot is the nose, the little crossed eyes are almost attached to the nose. The weird smile sets off a very pretty goblin indeed.
Three primroses in bloom or just about.
Two running crab spiders. (The abdomen is long, but the front and the arms are held in the crab posture.) Then a jumping spider.
We saw some baby Mangora placida (tuft-legged orbweavers) earlier. Now they are much easier to spot in the wild, not just on the metal siding.
First another side view of the Mangora. In the shop window we found a nursery for baby spiders! And here is a spotty, hairy spider, just for you..
Here is a tiny wasp (I think!) And a tulip cluster - I bought these cheap tulip bulbs long ago - 20years or more ago - and unlike most tulips they have grown more and more prolific! They must have found their spot in the sun. And last shot, the scylla (squills) are also spreading lustily.
It seems I've used up my best pictures, but I have a good feeling about the weeks to come! Everyone, please stay healthy. It has been a stressful year for colds - again one of the biggest players in this year's flu game was sitting on the bench and not in the needle. There! My most majestic mixed metaphor!
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