Wednesday, April 04, 2012

The eyes have it...

Can I start this post with a thank-you to all those that have shown an interest in my blog, I can't believe that the viewings have just passed 6,000....thank-you so much.

The weather continues to fluctuate between summer and winter here in Kent, with a few spring-like days thrown into the mix for good measure.
Probably the reason then, that bug-hunting is sporadic, or at least, bug-finding is to be more correct.

Butterfly sightings have been good over the last week or so with temperatures peaking at around 20deg. I've already spotted Comma, Peacock, Red Admiral, Orange-Tip, Small White, Small Tortoiseshell, Brimstone and Speckled Wood. This week we are down to around +4 with early morning frosts again, and so numbers now appear to be down.

There are however a fair number of bee species to be seen locally. As for just how many species, well, it would help if I could differentiate between most of them but alas, that skill alludes me for the most part. That said, there are certain bees that are quite helpful in this respect:at least to species level. By that I mean they have a fairly obvious distinguishing feature.

 A Cuckoo Bee

Cuckoo bees (Nomada) look more like wasps than bees with their yellow and black markings. Called cuckoo bees because they live in the nests of mining bees, mainly Andrena species. These little bees do seem to have brown antennae most times, which is a help with identifying them but what fascinates me about them is their eyes. It's worth taking a closer look at the compound eyes as they are quite striking....

Compound eyes
 The image above is a close-up of the nomada species eyes: it may not be the sharpest image that I've ever produced but it's the result of an on-going experiment with image-stacking and until I either improve my technique or manage to source some better quality equipment (or possibly both) it'll have to do. It does show nicely the compound eye and its fantastic colouring though.

A Pea Weevil
Sitona lineatus- the pea weevil, is omni-present now, with large numbers to be found either sitting atop of fence posts, or as in the case of this one, just  motionless on long grass. At around 4-5mm though, they may not be obvious.
They get their name from the habit of nibbling semicircular holes in the edges of peas and clover.

Both sexes doing what both sexes do!

Of the early butterflies, surely the arrival of the orange-tips is one of the delights of spring-proper. Stunning butterflies at any-time, these delicate insects can be fully appreciated when they are freshly emerged with their strong colours and as yet, undamaged wings. Easily separated into male/female by even an amateur such as myself:the males having bearing the tell-tale 'orange-tip' to their wings.

An Orange-Tip Butterfly

7-spot ladybirds seem to be around in huge numbers this spring-perhaps the mild March has encouraged them out of hibernation. I have also seen a few harlequin ladybirds locally now but only a handful. The photograph of a 7-spot below is a natural light photo and although it looks as though I have photo-shopped the background out and added a plain cream one, the truth is that it's natural, and is just dry, long grass.

A 7-Spot Ladybird

We are just into April now and what has been a real treat to see is the amount of wild flowers that are now showing. There are primroses, wild violets, wood anemone and lots of bluebells (see photo below for an illustration of some of the paler variety we have growing locally). The roadside verges are also turning green with wild parsley and jack-by-the-hedge and numerous other plants and shrubs.


I think that about updates you on what's happening in the world of nature here, well that's what I've seen anyway, as always there's far more going on than I'll ever witness and long may it be so.

To complete this blog entry I'd just like to add here that I was pleased that one of my photographs was chosen recently as the 'Photo Of The Month by UK SAFARI and will appear on their website for the month of April.

Until the next time then...


  1. I don't know if we have orange-tips in Ireland JJ i don't ever remember seeing one. Great blog as always JJ. Derek Cluskey.

    1. Thanks Derek. Yes, I understand that Ireland does have Orange Tips. Try this link (if it works!)

  2. Well, I couldn't stay away long! I miss you already on Flickr, but it just gives me incentive to visit your blog, which is quite interesting and cool ! Congrats about that photo being published, I knew it would be, it's just Stunning JJ. Hope you had a great weekend, catch you soon...Stella

  3. Hi Stella.
    Bless you for looking in on my little blog and for taking time to comment. I'll be adding to the blog soon but the weather has prevented me from taking many photos this week.

  4. Very nice blog mate, very interesting for me who knows nothing about insects. Keep it up mate. Harry Fairman


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