Friday, July 15, 2016

Meeting the Neighbors

Our new apartment is a little ways outside of downtown Ithaca, surrounded by lots of fields and woods. It's really lovely. There are even a few small ponds on the property, right near our apartment. I love having easy access to ponds -- a luxury I haven't had since I was little! These ponds are surrounded by thick cattails, with lots of Red-winged Blackbirds in residence. And tons of frogs! So far I've seen only Green Frogs and Bullfrogs here, but there sure are a lot of them. I'd forgotten how big and impressive Green Frogs could be. This guy's bright yellow throat is especially striking:

His huge ears are very impressive as well (and their large size marks this frog as male rather than female); note also the ridges along the side of his back, which are characteristic of Green Frogs and absent in Bullfrogs:

Here's one of the big Bullfrogs that also lurk in these ponds:

We're meeting plenty of new neighbors outside of the ponds as well. A week ago, a bizarre hunter showed up inside our living room carrying her prey:

My best guess is this is a female Grass-carrying Wasp (genus Isodontia) looking for a place to stash the katydid she's prepared (i.e., paralyzed) as food for her future larvae:

She seemed to be carrying the katydid mostly with her mouth, perhaps with some help from her back legs. What an impressive bug. And what a strange sight:

Unfortunately, in the process of escorting the lady hunter outside, she lost her prey. And the next day, I noticed a new (paralyzed, twitching) katydid on the floor of our living room, and a wasp (the same one?) again buzzing around inside. There haven't been any further wasp-with-katydid sightings, so hopefully she figured out that our living room isn't the best place for a nest.

I've started a very small garden here, and even this little growing area is already attracting creatures. It's been very dry here, and as soon as I started watering the soil this afternoon a lovely Common Checkered-Skipper (Pyrgus communis) showed up to gather water and nutrients:

I've never seen one of these butterflies before, and I'm really loving its fancy checkered wings and adorably fuzzy blue/gray upperparts:

It's certainly nice to see that there are so many creatures in our new neighborhood. I think this place will do very well as a temporary base while we keep our eyes open for a more permanent home!

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