Did I say that out-loud? I was just letting off steam...
I should begin this update with a reflection on my last-you might remember it was partly about some fox moth caterpillars that I had discovered as eggs and had assumed they had reached maturity as larvae...
Well that turned out to be quite wrong as they continued to feed and grow and now have evolved into something quite different...
As well as being hirsute,I have also learnt that this colouration is referred to as rufous, meaning reddish-brown and is actually used as an adjective name for many animals, and in particular birds. It's also where the name of the moth is derived I guess.
A spider....Oh! Spider alert for those who are averse here...a spider that I have been seeing fairly regularly of late is the crab spider Misumena vatia...
These are remarkably able to change colour from white to yellow, although I have read this can take up to 20 days with the reverse only taking 6 days.
It's thought that this species lives for no more than 2 years and so, let me think...20 days to change, 6 to change back...erm......over 2 years, only 28 times max?
These spiders don't spin a web to catch their prey-rather they use the colour change/camouflage trick and then grab their prey with front legs that have tiny hooks at the tip. Then, instead of wrapping the prey in silk as many spiders do, they will (here comes the gory bit) hold the prey and suck all of its bodily fluids dry.
And so what is the web/silk in my photo above? Well this is a female and I know that they use silk to protect their eggs (yes, these spiders lay eggs) and so I assume that's what's going on here and she is protecting her offspring.
Having been lucky enough to see painted lady butterflies this summer,I began searching for evidence of egg laying on thistle. It was always a long shot and I found none, but did discover more moth eggs...
A few days later these extremely small caterpillars began emerging...
Having moulted at least once (not quite sure how many times) they looked like this...
I'm sure you won't be too surprised when I tell you that I have no idea of identity at this stage,
but will try and keep observing to see if later instars provide better clues.
I did come across another couple of eggs that I am sure are moth...
They turned this amazing red colour just before hatching...
What emerged however, was not bright red larvae but...well...I have to be honest here and say that I've failed to get any photos that I am happy with as yet-but as soon as I do, I'll post here...
A couple of strange ones now-something unexpected that I found on alder and has been puzzling me ever since. This little bug? Parasitised somehow or is it as simple as it hasn't emerged properly?
All I can really add is that it was still alive at this stage but didn't make the following day. I did see something similar a few years ago, but that involved a fly-I have tried to locate that picture but my filing system is less than perfect and....no chance!
Again, with this next 'thing' I have photographed one before but didn't get a positive i.d. at the time, with most people thinking it was spider related...
It was only around 15mm or so across and woolly looking. It was firmly attached to the underside of the leaf and there was no sign of activity close by. Tell you what...if I find out what this is for sure I'll tell you, as long as you tell me if you already know?
Enough for now, just to add that for anyone who follows my monthly article in print, I promised to provide a full list of butterfly species spotted within half a mile of home this year...
They are, in no particular order, to date:
Until the next time...