on the chair

A couple of days ago, I wrote about the Eris militaris spiders that have made silky refuges on the back of an old plastic lawnchair in the small orchard here at the farm. During one of my follow-up checks, I found that there are now two female spiders on the chair – one inside a refuge next to a couple of the mysterious granular-coated cocoon-like structures, and one roaming around on the chair back. In a few minutes, I’ll head over there with my cameras to check on the latest activity.

On my May 31st visit to “the chair” I found this beautiful Green Leuconycta Moth (Hodges #9065 – Leuconycta diphteroides) clinging to the underside of the chair (click on image for closer view). At first, I almost missed spotting it as the coloration was so close to the lichen that grows in patches all over the chair. However, my shape recognition sense kicked in and I took a closer look. I often spot moths resting in vegetation, tree bark or on objects during daytime hours. Usually, they are so well camouflaged that they could easily be missed. However, if you remain receptive to their shape, sometimes they are suddenly visible upon a surface.

In other developments around the farm this week, I spotted my first Monarch butterfly a few days ago. Then, on June 1st, I found a female checking out the Common Milkweed that is finally reaching above the height of the surrounding grass in the backyard. Yesterday, a female Monarch was again seen on the Milkweed.

Also new this week are fireflies. Don saw the first glimmers on the evening of May 30th. I hope we’ll see plenty more of them over the next few weeks. There have been so many firefly larvae wandering on the poplar bark in the woodlot, that I think this may just be a good year for them. Also, I’m guessing that the weather will contribute to a good display as fireflies seem to be most plentiful when the grasses in the garden are lush, tall and a bit damp. Our bedroom looks out onto the back garden, and it’s wonderful to watch them zooming in high arcs back and forth through across the night sky from my perch on the bed.

What have you been seeing around your gardens this week? Any fireflies as yet?

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14 Responses to “on the chair”

  1. John Says:

    I’ve seen relatively few spiders, butterflies, moths, beetles, crickets, or any other such creatures the last few days, but I know they must be there, because our back patio area is awash in lizards. It’s interesting to see them hiding among the foliage, their green colors blending in so well with the plants. When they emerge from the foliage and cross the brown and orange flagstone, their green hues change to earth tones, from mottled beige to deep brown. They seem to like to sit on the flat upholstered surfaces of the chairs on the patio, where their brown and mottled beige camoflauge make them easy to miss. When I get close to them, their heads cock to one side, they assess me with their emotionless eyes, and they spring quickly to the safey of the groundcover if I get too close. I assume they are working overtime to keep the insect populations in check. Good for the lizards, but not for my ability to see the diversity that you describe!

  2. robin andrea Says:

    We’ve been noticing how many different kinds of bees the raspberry blossoms are attracting. It’s quite a scene of constant motion. I photographed our first red-tailed bumblebee on Friday. It was quite exciting to see it, and to recognize it because of the great post you did about them last month. There are lots of yellow swallowtails out and about, dragonflies that never let me get close enough to ID them, and ladybugs everywhere. No fireflies yet.

  3. Ruth Says:

    I saw my first Monarch butterfly yesterday. I looked for more in the area, but saw only one. The vegetation has grown so quickly in the past week…from spring to summer in the meadow.

  4. Larry Ayers Says:

    That spring-to-summer burgeoning of leaves always takes me by surprise; suddenly (within just a few days) the landscape looks fecund and opaque. The springtime woodland vistas are hidden by curtains of leaves.

    Fireflies were scattered and tentative two weeks ago; now they are out in near-full force, their semi-random flashings seemingly hovering on the verge of being patterned.

  5. Larry Ayers Says:

    BTW your photo of the Green Leuconycta Moth is impressive and beautiful. Notice how the dark mesa-like patches break up the wing-outline.

  6. David Says:

    I have something new this year; fireflies in my bedroom. For the last three nights as I settle down to zoom thru the DVRed French Open Tennis Tournament, I have been treated to little flashing lights gliding about (2-3). When they pass in front of the TV I see their big bodies. The caulk at the bottom of the screens needs redoing, so they must be coming in thru there.
    Further, our milkweed is over 18″ high and growing quickly, so soon I should see the Monarchs.

  7. Pamela Says:

    I thought I saw a monarch fly over a couple of days ago–but no sure sightings. And no fireflies yet. Lots of bees, also on our raspberries–I was surprised to notice such unassuming little flowers attracting so much attention.

    That really is a beautiful moth.

  8. Wayne Says:

    I can see why it would be hard to spot the Leuconycta amongst the lichens! A very pretty moth, and oddly shaped.

    We have had scattered fireflies, despite the dry weather up until Saturday. Like everyone else I seem to see them best from my bedroom :-) . Alway restful to watch them drifting through the yard and the woods.

  9. bev Says:

    John – What a fantastic description of the lizards on your patio! That’s how I remember them being when we stayed at a place with a garden while in Arizona. Yes, I can see how you wouldn’t really see much insect activity with all of those lizards in your garden — no doubt, anything that showed itself for even a second would probably be history!

    robin – Our raspberries aren’t yet in bloom, but they do seem to attract quite a variety of pollinators. That’s neat about the red-tailed bee! I’m sure you’ll eventually get some dragonfly photos. I’ve always felt that photographing odonates is a bit of a zen thing… you have to imagine the dragonfly staying very still and somehow it does what you’re thinking (at least, that’s my theory).

    Ruth – The vegetation has gone wild around our place in the past week or so. I guess we’ve had just enough cool, rainy weather that it was suppressed. This weekend was both hot and rainy and everything seems to have grown visibly in just a couple of days.

    Larry – You’ve described the “burgeoning of leaves” so well. That’s exactly as it seems here over the past few days. My line of sight to certain areas of the garden or fields is now completely obscured. Our fireflies are lagging yours, but I feel we’re going to see a bumper crop of them this year. Thanks re: the moth photo. It really was a beautifully marked moth — and yes, the “mesa -like” patches are just that and do break up the outline of the moth so that it appears more like a patch of lichen.

    David – Ha! That’s amusing about the fireflies in your bedroom. I probably wrote about this somewhere on my blog last year, but a couple of years ago, I wanted to shoot some video of fireflies to show to a friend who lives in the PNW and has seen fireflies only a couple of times and only ever in a very small number. One evening, I went out with my butterfly net and a jar and captured about a dozen fireflies and brought them indoors and put them in an aquarium with a screen over top, set on a table in our bedroom. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize what a bunch of Houdinis the fireflies could be, so it was only minutes before there were fireflies zooming and arcing all over the room. It took about 3 nights before I managed to capture everyone and move them back outdoors!

    Pamela – since the first appearance of the Monarch, I’ve been seeing one in the garden visiting the milkweed each day. It would be interesting to know if it is the same butterfly each time. I kind of suspect that it might be.

    Wayne – Yes, I almost missed that moth as its colouring was so close to that of the lichen on the chair. I sometimes wonder if such insects fly around looking for something that is the same colour as themselves — “Oh, look! Some patches of lichen on that old plastic lawnchair! I think I’ll spend today sleeping there!” (-:
    I too find the fireflies so restful to watch through the bedroom window at night. I think the sight of them brings back my memories of watching them through the window at our summer cottage when I was young. In the dark, it’s almost as though the passage of time is diminished

  10. Cathy Says:

    I’m seeing mosquitoes. Drats. As kids we didn’t have to be concerned about the blood-letting. Now it’s ‘what are they leaving in exchange?’ Do you think about this as you’re making your nature forays? Do you douse yourself in Deet?

    That is a lovely moth. I need to wear head-to-toe clothing and get back out there. I’m missing good stuff.

    Oh! I loved Larry’s comment about the Springtime woodland vistas becoming opaque. Our little home is now shrouded by emerald green. I love green, but I miss getting glimpses of sky. I have to go to local parks for the sweeping vistas that lift our spirits.

  11. Cathy Says:

    I just read your comment about watching fireflies now and back then – and the way it bridges the years. Lovely, Bev.

    In Ohio we’ve always called fireflies ‘lightning bugs’ – I just asked me husband what they called them in Colorado while he was growing up. Lightning bugs, there too. It must be like ‘pop’ and ‘soda’ – a regional thing.

  12. bev Says:

    Cathy – Yes, I’ll bet you’re seeing a few mosquitoes. So are we — actually, we see hordes of them here, day or night, as they go with the territory. I don’t generally give mosquitoes much thought and don’t use any kind of repellant as it would also repel the insects that I’m photographing. Also, repellants are bad news for frogs and toads if we handle them, not that I usually pick up amphibians as I make a point of not normally disturbing them – although I did pick up a few during last week’s field day with the high school students as most of them didn’t know the different species, etc… I guess I’m a bit of a fatalist when it comes to the possibility of being infected with WNV as I spend so much time outdoors (really, much of my waking life from spring through autumn), and I realize there’s probably not that much point in trying to prevent bites. For all I know, I may already have been infected at some time (I’m guessing that’s highly likely). I don’t recommend that attitude for anyone else, but it’s my reality, so that’s how I’ve responded. At this point, I’m more concerned about ticks and Lyme Disease as we didn’t have many ticks and (supposedly) no Lyme Disease in our region until this past year. I’m trying to decide how to deal with the problem for myself. For Sabrina, we’re going to have her vaccinated for LD in a couple of more weeks. Until then, we’re keeping her out of the tall grass and checking her daily for ticks (she was bitten twice earlier this spring). For myself, I just don’t know. I’m checking myself for ticks regularly, but I’m finding myself feeling unwilling to stay out of the fields and woods. Our one “concession” to the ticks is that Don has started keeping the main walking trail across the field and through the woods cut somewhat short. Normally, we would only mow the trail once a year to keep the brush down, but he’ll mow it a little more often now so that Sabrina has a place to walk, and so that I’ll be less likely to pick up ticks during my several-times-a-day insect walks.
    I’ve noticed the firefly-lightning bug regional thing too. I can’t recall hearing anyone locally calling them lightning bugs, but I’ve definitely heard them called that when I’ve been down in the states. Yes, another one of those “pop” and “soda” or “sofa” and “chesterfield” things. (-:

  13. angie Says:

    I clicked over here from COTS and have been perusing all your terrific photos. I have similar taste when it comes to photographic subjects and find myself more and more drawn to the macro world. I especially loved your recent spider shots.

  14. bev Says:

    angie – Thanks, and welcome to my blog. I just zipped over to visit your blog. Nice photo of the Forest Tent Caterpillar. I always think they’re very attractive — sort of like an intricate bracelet.