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Ever heard of a sharpshooter insect? Sharpshooter is the common name of a group of large leafhoppers. They are elongate, shaped like a torpedo, and feed on plants by sucking the juices.

Sharpshooters may have gotten their name from the fact these insects slip to the underside of a twig whenever someone approaches, in order to hide. They have relatively large eyes, and in the past I have had no luck getting one to sit still long enough for a photograph. I would spot one, and then -shuffle, shuffle- it was on the far side of the twig.

For some reason, this morning I found a whole group feeding who were more than willing to pose for me. Maybe because it was slightly windy and they knew I’d have trouble getting a good focus. ☺

smoke tree sharpshooter

These are adults and nymphs of the smoke tree sharpshooter, Homalodisca lacerta.

The nymphs are beige and lack wings.

smoke tree sharpshooter

The adults have bright red splotches on their wings and wild wavy patterns on their head.

smoke tree sharpshooter

Check out those eyes.

smoke tree sharpshooter

And as for shooting, these insects eject a stream of honeydew while they are feeding. If there are quite a few in a tree, it actually can look like a fine mist of rain on a sunny day.

These are both males. The females create prominent white spots on the sides of their wings. No one knows for sure why they do this.

We have been noticing something weird on our back patio. We’ve been finding bits of glass.

Most of them are glass beads that look like they came off of a mosaic.

glass bit

I originally thought the kids behind us were throwing them over the fence for some reason. They’d have to have good aim to get all the way to the patio.

glass bit

But then I found this glass chip. The kids over the back fence a young, and I didn’t think their parents would let them play with hunks of broken glass.

I have a much better idea who is the culprit now.

Here is a clue:


The second clue is that we have a pot of water that collects condensed water from our air conditioning system. In the summer the pot is full because of constant dripping, and we have to empty it every day. Fresh, cold water…

Look for the answer in an upcoming post. Edit: Update post is here.

Did you take a child outside this weekend? I didn’t because I was sick, but my husband did. To prove he was outside, here’s a photograph our son took:
woods lake
As you can probably tell, they were in a boat .

Shortly afterward, his dad took this photograph:
woods lake2

Probably can’t see them, but there are two dots over the tops of the trees, right about above the white hat. They tell me those are an osprey and an eagle. The guys were in a boat watching an osprey catch fish. The osprey had one successful catch and was trying again when a bald eagle came barreling in and chased the osprey. Guess it was quite a sight.

Bald eagles are known to chase and mob ospreys. Usually they seem to be after the fish the osprey caught. The eagle swoops at an osprey that has just caught a fish, and often the osprey drops its meal. Guess who gets the meal instead.

Although an osprey looks like a big bird when it is by itself, a bald eagle is much bigger and heavier.

For more detailed information, check this blog post from Friends of the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge with some great information and photos of eagles and ospreys. (Scroll down to the July 27 Post entitled eagles and ospreys.)