Sunday, February 10, 2013

Summer bugs and a male ghost...

We are so close to spring now here in the U.K. that you can almost smell it but winter seems intent on holding us in its icy grip for as long as possible. With that in mind,I've decided for the purposes of this update, we are already there. We have been promised temperatures in double figures by the end of the week and so who knows...

Click any photo to view on black
A Six-spot Burnet Moth
Burnet moths,unlike most others , come out in the daytime. They are safe from predators like birds because they taste horrible and are slightly poisonous. They advertise this fact with their striking colours.

I shall be looking for these again come June-August on hot, sunny days when they'll be feeding on knapweed and scabious.

A month earlier in May, we should start to see the first,early common blue butterflies..

A Common Blue Butterfly
I think this one above is a male. I'm crossing my fingers for a much better year this time around as last year I saw only a tiny percentage of the numbers I expected.

With any luck,these will be around in numbers locally in grassy areas,meadows and woodland clearings from May through to September at least.

An early morning 'blue' covered in dew

Here's another shot taken early morning, one of my very favourite times to be out with the camera...

A Springtail (Collembola)
From memory I am fairly sure this one is Pogonognathellus longicornis, the longest springtail in the UK with the longest name. Looking at the antennae here it seems to fit but I haven't photographed any for a while now and I'm always dubious of relying on memory alone.

A Meadow Brown Butterfly
The meadow brown is one of our commonest butterflies through the summer months and can be found in most parts of the British Isles.
Females are larger than males but males darker than the females. I am forever being told about 'black' butterflies that folks have spotted in summertime and in reality, it always turns out to be a male meadow brown.

Of the many ladybirds to be found in my little corner of Kent, this one, the little 22-spot is a favourite of mine. At just 3-4mm they are one of the smaller beetles and although named 22 spot, they can have 20, 21, or 22 spots.
I think I'm correct in also saying that the pronotum can be white or yellow in this species.

Next up is one of our common bugs...

A Green-shield Bug
Palomena prasina, the green shieldbug can be found throughout the year but may be harder to spot in winter as it acquires a brown coat until spring when it reverts to green.
They can often be seen sitting in the sun on the leaves of bramble, nettle, hazel  or dock. hey feed on sap and unripe seeds.

Supposed to give off a nasty smell to deter predators (something I've never witnessed myself) they are also sometimes called stinkbugs.

A nest of baby spiders

Another thing I shall be looking out for come summer, these little spider nurseries are fascinating and when disturbed, the spiderlings will scurry to all parts, returning to this ball shape as soon as the danger has passed.

Now this one pictured above I'm not too sure of at all. I am assuming it's one of the larger ants, formica species possibly? But just not confident of an identity for this one. I found it sitting on a fence post beside local woodland.

A male Ghost Moth
To complete this little taste of spring/summer, here's a fantastic British moth called a ghost moth. Again, this is a fairly common species and can be seen flying at dusk during June & July. How can I be sure this is a male? Well because only the males are white, females being yellow marked with orange.

Until the next time then...


  1. Now this is a breath of Spring air!!! Roll on the warmer days! Can't wait now and these are making me all the more impatient!
    Stunning series of shots, especially the 'dewy' ones. I'd love to achieve such shots but haven't ever found a suitable Invert!! I'll keep trying!
    As for the ant, I don't know why, but I'm not sure it is an ant.... just something not quite right? But what do I know! Lol!
    I'm wondering if it's one of the wingless wasps? Intriguing and beautiful in any case!


  2. Hey thanks for this Maria. Yes, there are real signs of spring now...Hoorah!
    Sure you could be right about that ant/wasp...looking again, the abdomen looks wrong for ant? I'll have another delve.

  3. Have a look at Gelis species JJ. Closest I've found... so far! After all that I may be wrong and it could be an ant! Lol! ;-)

  4. O.K. Thanks for spending time on this and I'll check out your suggestion Maria.

  5. Hmmm...not sure of an exact match yet but I am now thinking that you've pointed me in the right direction Maria and it may well be an ant mimic wasp? Quite exciting! Thanks.

  6. Well done YOU for finding it! :-)
    Did you see those minute wasps on Wonders of Life Sunday night?

  7. Thanks Maria. No I missed that...might be available on iPlayer still? I'll have a look.

  8. Expect you've found it but here it is:

  9. Thanks for that Maria..appreciate your time :-)

  10. Yeah JJ the 'ant' is indeed one of the Gelis spp of flightless wasps (one easy way to tell apart from ants is the antennae ... ants have a long first segment 'the scape' where the Gelis have numerous small segments all way along. Are other differences but i always find this the easiest way to quickly tell them apart :)
    And am loving the 'blue in dew' and the 'springy in dew' ... class shots mate!


Please feel free to comment on my blog. I am always grateful for any feedback, good or bad. Commenting should be fast and easy. Just enter your comment in the box, then click on the drop-down box beside 'Comment as'. You can use your Google ID if you have one, or just choose 'Name/URL and enter your name (URL is not needed). You can also just choose anonymous, if you would rather not be identified.

Regards 'JJ'.

If you do experience any difficulties, you can contact me directly from this blog and I will try to help.