Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Fencing weevils and spiders that change colour...

I've been looking out for some fantastic little weevils that usually appear with,or soon after, the first hazel leaves. This year,as with many invertebrates,they were somewhat later than previous finds. But...on a superb spring day that saw rising temperatures recently, I spotted my first...

These are hazel leaf-roller weevils (Apoderus coryli) and although I've yet to find evidence of this (a task for this year) they get their name from the way that adult females roll the edge of a hazel leaf and lay eggs in the cradle it creates.

I did also witness something of a first for me regarding the behaviour of these beetles. I found what seems to be two males,both intent on mating with the same female (although,I'm not sure either was) and this involved lots of posturing by the males. They seemed to be almost 'fencing' with their antennae with heads raised and I am sure they were both sort of, clicking their heads/neck joints as well.

I attempted to capture it on the camera......just a very short clip that is a pretty poor effort but gives you some idea.....

I have read somewhere that the extended length of the head of these weevils may be associated with this activity.
I fully intended finding a female engaged in leaf rolling last spring but failed to do so and will double my efforts this year and hope that I'm lucky.

On a different note-I have not yet added to my moth trap finds. I have set it up twice in the past few weeks but sadly, the first occasion yielded just one (although a rather nice one that I've not had before and will add soon) and the second time, nothing! Not a single specimen, not even any flies.wasps or beetles....today is May 28th and I ran the trap again last night for just a couple of hours and have yet to check it out, so watch this space...

The woods where I found the weevils have been pretty productive for me over the last few visits and beneath the same hazel tree where I witnessed the 'weevil porn' I noticed this looper caterpillar hanging from a very delicate thread. It was spinning and wriggling and seemed to be trying to make its way back up to the leaf above,rather than down to the ground.

The soldier beetles are about now as well....

Again, this was on hazel and I think it's probably Cantharis pellucida but there are several similar ones including C.nigra and C.lateralis. I have a key somewhere to these and really should look it up.

From the same area came this fantastic looking crab spider...

This one seems to rejoice in the name of....'Common crab spider' and does appear to vary quite a lot in its markings (if I have the i.d. correct) with males having a very odd way of mating with females. He will grab hold of a female's legs and hold her until she stops struggling, then ties her down with threads of silk and finally, crawls underneath her to mate-how romantic!

My best find in this woodland though has to be this dragonfly. Not only is it just the second I have seen this year thus far (the other being a four spotted chaser) but is a first for me not only in these woods but anywhere locally....

Again,it's not the best shot but it was not settling for long and when it did, always in bright sunlight. I was very excited to see this one though as I am reasonably sure this is a Downy Emerald Dragonfly (Cordulia aenea) and looking at the abdomen shape a female. I think it is a fresh one too; the eye colour is bright.apple green in mature ones and this muddy brown in immature dragonflies.

I have only ever seen common darters, ruddy darters and southern hawkers at this site until now and after such a bad winter and cold spring, it really did make my day to find this 'newbie'. You can be sure I shall be looking out for more sightings and hoping for better photographic opportunities too. I think this makes three years in succession that I have discovered something new to me in these woods now. 

Misumena vatia
This spider (above) I do recognise. It is one that is common enough and quite easy to spot,unless it does its clever trick of changing colour to match the foliage. It can take a few days to effect a colour change but can vary from white to yellow, through to green.

Finding caterpillars is getting easier with each passing day it seems-here's another....

And another...

This one is not a caterpillar but a sawfly larva...

A the last for now...the tiniest you could imagine. I watched this emerge from an egg and photographed it soon after. It's a moth larva and was probably around 2mm at best...

Plenty of weevils to be found now and a real treat to find something out of the ordinary,or at least, different to the ones that I usually see...

Not actually sure about species here because of the mottled colour. Sitona or possibly Phyllobius? So many weevils,so little time!

To end this update I'll return to those woods where I have been finding lots of nice things this spring. Despite reading that butterfly sightings are well down again, I have found that locally at least, we do seem to be having a reasonable year and certainly well up in numbers and species from last year's appalling results...

A Large White Butterfly

Okay...more to come very soon including the results of last night's moth trapping.

Until the next time...


  1. Love the first weevil especially. Enjoying your blog by the way, meant to say before but I've been crazily busy. Looks great.

    1. Thanks Andy. Yes those leaf-rollers are really something.

  2. Another superb and interesting blog JJ! Love those leaf rollers too! That's a brilliant bit of 'jousting' footage too!

    The other weevil *could* be Polydrusus undatus/tereticollis.... but I struggle with this family...!

    1. Thanks Maria(?)
      I must try to improve on that footage but, we have to start somewhere eh?
      Yes...those species are very alike aren't they but seem much closer than my initial guesses-Thanks as always.

  3. Oops! Yes, it was me! Lol! Forgot to add name!! :-)

  4. Thought it probably was Maria :-) Thanks again.


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