Some Insects

Convergent Lady Beetle (Hippodamia convergens), found inside, let outside. How delightful to observe a lady b. who isn’t
the omnipresent Harmonia axyridis, which is larger, rounder, and far more varied in spot-count and even color than our native species.
Two Rufus-chested Cellophane Bees (Colletes thoracicus). Most of our wild bees (a.k.a. not invasive honeybees) are ground-nesting species. Cellophane bees waterproof their tunnels with a natural polyester, hence “cellophane.”
Black Tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica) leaves with galls of Aceria nyssae, a mite. Doesn’t seem to have a common name.
Wasps are the best known gall-agitators, but mites and aphids do it as well. “It” being hijacking a plant to grow around them, feeding and protecting them (somewhat: there are parasites of gall-makers and parasites of the parasites of gall-makers). These are the galls of Phylloxera genus aphids on mockernut hickory petioles and flowers. There are several species of these. Is this the same one? Like oaks, hickories are host to a… well, host of gall-forcing species.

If the name “Phylloxera” strikes a bell it’s because one species of the genus threatened to destroy the European wine-industry in the second half of the 19th century, until American grape root-stock (having evolved with the aphid) saved the day.
Elm Sack Gall Aphid (Tetraneura ulmi) on wych elm (Ulmus glabra).
Red Nail Gall Mite (Eriophyes tiliae) on on linden leaf (Tilia x europaea).
More sign. Of something…

Beginning Again, or Monday, Monday

Full of pollen and spores, covered in spiderweb, you don’t walk through nature, you walk in nature.
Blinking Common Grackles.

Pandemic Notes #3

Among the 21,138+ Covid-19 deaths in NYC are neighborhood men who ran a local pizza joint and a corner bodega.

There are now 96,662+ coronavirus deaths in U.S. under the vicious incompetence of Donald Trump and his grand-old-pary-of-death-enablers. (These are Saturday’s numbers and will be bigger when this is published.)

Because the Republican-fascists are waging a multi-pronged battle to both suppress the number of deaths (see Florida, Georgia) and/or to simply deny them (see Fox and the other conspiracy-vectors), it’s important to remember the names of their victims. Lots of local media have obituaries on-line. This morning the New York Times is dedicating its front page to 1% of the victims. (That piece-of-shit Trump went golfing Saturday.) There are also these sources:

Those We’ve Lost

Faces of Corvid

Naming the Lost

Here’s a good analysis of the life-and-death contrast between NY and CA. I gather some people are entertained by the Brothers Cuomo on TV, but the picture above of the Cuomo-De-Blasio freezer trucks are a better representation of their criminal irresponsibility. Cuomo’s and De Blasio’s actions only look good in comparison to the genocidal Trump. (I wrote about these body-storage trailers in my first pandemic commentary.)

I am surprised people are falling for Cuomo’s performance. His miserable history, his actual actions, as governor have been on display for years now. His plans for the future: austerity, disaster capitalism, corporate control of education. It’s a softer nightmare than Trump’s gargoyle-riot, but it’s still vile.

The pandemic should have ripped apart the facade of bullshit that coats this nation. The responses to this disease, forecast for months, reveals the savagery of the republic like nothing else: the contempt for the elderly; the war on the poor; the murderous racism; the domestic terrorism of misogyny; the way the brutes gather for putsches in state capitals. The monstrousness of selfishness against public health, the unmasked sociopaths ranting about their “liberty” when they’re nothing but canon-fodder for their plutocratic masters.

In The Plague, Camus writes of the “secreted humours” being purged from the earth itself, the “abscesses and pus-clots that had been forming in its entrails,” all spilling out. Quite the documentarian, Camus. The shit rises — perhaps it will boil off?

Yet through it all, we, and I still think we are the majority, prevail.

“There’s no question of heroism in all this. It’s a matter of common decency. That’s an idea that may make some people smile, but the only means of fighting a plague is — common decency.” ~ Camus

And now, because you need some beauty in, and of
our world.

Here They Come/Here They Come/Here They Come

Yesterday morning the “bronk!” of a raven lifted my eyes to the window. They were passing right over the building. Four of them! Another followed from another angle. Looks like the class of 2020 is on the wing.
Two of them landed on St. Michael’s for a brief perch above their domaine.

A hour or so later I heard through the grapevine that the five of them were spotted in Green-Wood. Last year around this time I ran into a family of six in Green-Wood. In 2016, I had my first view of that year’s family in early June.

(Post title of Laurie Anderson: “Strange angels/singing just for me”)

More Warblers

Yellow Warbler. A NYC nester.
Northern Parula.


Saw my first “ode” of the year on May 7th. Both damselflies, of which this is one, and dragonflies are members of the Odonata order. This one looks recently emergent. It was flying weakly, characteristic of a newly emerged adult, getting used to operating those four wings.
This one is easier to identify: a Fragile Forktail spotted on Monday. Second damsel I have seen this year. Never mind the name: I see this species all over the place, in many different habitats. They’re small but seem to be as tough as the proverbial nails.

It’s been a cool May so far. The waters need to warm up to inspire more Odonata nymphs to emerge and shed their aquatic life for the skies.

Raptor Wednesday

The local male American Kestrel. He’s working like a dog now that there must be nestlings in the hole in the cornice where the nest is.
These photos, from Sunday morning, document him hunting and eating insects. From the size and color, I’d say roaches or waterbugs that he was grabbing off a couple of rooftops across the street. He used a pair of dish antennae as perches to eat.There aren’t many bites in even a large insect. Especially considering the crunchy chitinous exterior. A bit of that being dropped here.
Some quick cleaning of his toes and a few strops of his bill on the edge of the dish before his next sortie.

Less then ten minutes later, he was on the nearby TV antenna calling out in that trilling purr he uses to signal fresh meat for the female in the nest nearby. He’d killed a bird for brunch.


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