July 1st, 2008

woods, Elizabeth, camera, April

80 acres: the sad and the weird

We've had an extremely dry winter and spring, with no measurable rain for weeks and temperatures mostly over 100 degrees F, with 111 degrees F one day for sure.  As a result, a young oak tree has just about died, and the west grass is already August brown.

                           

The cactus pads behind the baby oak are thin and shriveled; the elbow-bush behind them is beginning to turn yellow-green and drop its leaves (leaves are curling up with lack of water.)  The tree probably won't survive its second summer.

The weirdness this time is another insect in the order Neuroptera, this time a mantisfly (I'm fairly sure) that looks as if it wants to be the wasp-mimic mantisfly but something went wrong.  The front legs (those little stubs up near the head) should be mantis-like front legs; the dark stripes on the wings should be wider, to look more like wasp wings, and the body should be striped red-brown and yellow.   Only in the left picture does it look anything remotely like a wasp, silhouetted against the light outdoors.

                     

Edit note, 4 July: this has now been IDed as (take a deep breath) Dicromantispa interrupta (due to a taxonomy change that decided Mantispa is an Old World genus only.  The first prof to ID it said it was M. interrupta.)   Second prof said the white stuff was a spermatophore, which would make this a male, and everyone agrees that the front legs were broken off at some point (should have big "grabby" forearms like a praying mantis.)  

Still no rain and none forecast.