Saturday, June 25, 2011

Do what we can, summer will have its flies. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

We are well into summer now here in the U.K. We have already passed the summer solstice and therefore also the day with the longest period of daylight.

Worldwide, interpretation of the event has varied among cultures, but most have held a recognition of signs of fertility. In the miniature world of the bug, this also can be applied. I'm not sure they're aware of the nights starting to draw-in, but they are certainly fertile! 

Each new dawn seems to bring a fresh flush of insects. Unfortunately for me, that includes the biting bugs that love to attack any would be bug-hunter/wildlife photographer with relish. Before you get a mental image of a huge hornet throwing jars of pickle at me, I meant in the sense of hearty enjoyment! But you knew that anyhow?

Yes, if there were such a thing (and if not, I've just invented/coined it) we are at the 'Invert apogee' moment in time. It's 'Hemiptera high noon'.....'Coleoptera crescendo' get the idea. 

What I am trying to convey, is that there is a  lot to see and record right now. A very busy time. I am out almost everyday (health permitting) photographing and recording inverts for a variety of people/organisations.

For this particular blog entry I thought I'd begin with a puzzle. A 'Can ya tell what it is yet' (Said in a Rolf Harris style voice) type of photo.
And so, take a look at the photograph below and see if you can identify just what it is?

Easy! I knew at least a handful of you would instantly recognise the subject, but what about the rest? Does this look like anything you might have seen before? Perhaps it'll help if I tell you that the actual measurement across this image is in real life little more than 8mm.

Whilst you're having a think about that, I'll move on and return to it shortly.
Our back garden (yard, for my American friends) has, as probably most do, got its pros & cons. On the down side, it is small, O.K. then, very small.
Let me elaborate, I always for instance quote it's size as the reason we don't have a cat (not room to swing one),just my little joke!

What we try to do though is make it as wildlife friendly as possible. On the plus side, we do back on to open fields and orchards. I try and keep a note of what we see and the number of insects is climbing with every year that passes. 

We've had birds in our bird box for the first time this year and have seen nuthatches and a greater spotted woodpecker as well as the usual feathered visitors.
In a section of the garden (circled in the photo) I found a green shield bug today. Quite a common bug but a first for our little garden.

Green Shield Bug

Another 'garden find' or to be more precise, 'house find' because it had ventured indoors from the garden somehow, was the strange beastie that is pictured below. There seems to be a theme emerging to this blog entry now because I would guess that you may not know what this one is either?

This is very small at around 3mm or so. The wider end is the back by the way.
It will have hatched from an egg during the spring or early summer. Any ideas now? Once again, a few will know but I reckon most won't and so what about if I were to say "Woolly Bear" would that be sufficient to get you to the correct identity?

Well if it was, then you'd be aware by now that this is actually the larva of the varied carpet beetle. The larval stage can last up to 10 months, depending on humidity, temperature and the availability of food, whereas the adult beetles only live for 2-6 weeks.
My guess would be that an adult beetle got into the house during last summer, found somewhere to lay its eggs and that's how this came to be here now. I just hope that I don't locate too many, they can be quite destructive pests.

Adult V.Carpet Beetle

Now that we've solved that riddle, how are you doing on the first photo? Perhaps an additional picture from another angle would clinch it? It should! Let's try...

Yes, they are in fact insect eggs. I am almost sure that they will turn out to be shield-bug eggs but exactly which shield-bug is another matter. I have seen and photographed some similar ones before and they turned out to be Sloe Bugs.
Sloe Bug Eggs
Could these be the same? Possibly, but it's so difficult to say for sure at this stage. They do appear to be different in colour but about the same size. I have seen sloe-bugs in the area where I found these. I don't have too much experience with finding these bug eggs yet and so wouldn't want to commit. I'll be sure and keep an eye on them though and post the results in a later blog.

To return briefly to the birds that nested in our garden this year. They were in fact Blue Tits and we all really enjoyed having them here whilst they built a nest, raised their young (around 6 we thought) and fledged safely, at least for the most part. 

They chose around 7am to leave the nest and this was one of the few shots of them leaving that I managed.

Sadly one little bird got left behind by the parents and being too small, with under-developed tail feathers, was unable to fend for itself and so we had to ring the local rescue centre and pop it in to them to look after until it could be released at a later date.

The 'Runt'
"Please help me"

You can see from these photographs taken on the same day, just how much smaller this little one was. The folks at the sanctuary said it was quite commonplace that this happens and we were amazed to find when we arrived with out little bird that they already had rows of incubators full of other little orphans being well cared for by the volunteers.

To give them a mention, they are Folly Wildlife Rescue and thank heaven for them and their ilk.

Our little friend gets some TLC

Reluctant fledgling 

Not all of the fledglings were in a hurry to leave the comfort of the nest as you can see from the picture above. However, they did all eventually part, sans our little 'runt' of course, we have not seen them or the parents since that day but are keeping fingers firmly crossed that they survived.

I'll leave you with yet another puzzler. Answer to what this is will be in the next blog entry. Unless you already know, I'll tell you all about it then.

Until the next time then...

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