Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Bishop's mitres and grey daggers....

Hard to believe it is 6th November already, well as I write it is, by the time you read this it'll have moved on again-time does that ya know. Having survived storm 'St Jude' and a general fall in temperature, I am still managing to find insects and bugs that are also surviving the elements...

This lovely bishop's mitre shieldbug (Aelia acuminata) was a nice late find. I know these can be found as adults all year round but I rarely see them in the summer months, let alone this late in the year. I think in all my years of finding and recording bugs, I have only ever seen 3 or 4.

The common green shieldbug is as its name suggests, common enough but they do change colour for the winter as this one was already starting to do...

Whilst looking for leafhoppers a couple of days ago, I stopped at a hazel tree and spied this great looking caterpillar...

Click any image for a larger view

It's the larva of the grey dagger moth. Easy to identify from the other dagger moths by that large 'hump' behind its head.

I also came across another (or maybe the same?) hirsute caterpillar of what I think is probably a garden tiger moth?

You may have noticed by the way that I have not been using caps for the names of these insects? To be truthful, I am never quite sure if using a capital letter at all times is correct or not? However, I decided to do a little research and this seems to be the definitive answer...'Lower-case initial letters are used for each part of the common (vernacular) names of species, genera, families and all other taxonomic levels' there!

I think this darker example may well be the same species but it's so difficult to be certain.

This year does seem to have been a good one for another moth larva; either that or I am becoming expert at finding them. I'm talking now about the fox moth...

Erm...take a look at this cute millipede picture...

I'm guessing that, like me, you know little about these arthropods? Even perhaps not understanding the difference between millipedes and centipedes? 
Well here are a few facts about these fascinating (oh, yes they are) creatures that might help...

When they hatch, millipedes have just 3 pairs of legs. They go through something called anamorphic development. Each time a millipede moults, it will add more body segments and legs. By the time they become adults, they will have dozens of segments and hundreds of legs-never 1,000 though!

The difference between millipedes and centipedes is that centipedes have just one pair of legs per body segment, whereas millipedes have three. Although in millipedes, section one has no legs at all and 2 through 4 varies depending on species.
Apparently, although I have never tried this, you can sex a millipede by examining the seventh segment, as males will have small stumps replacing legs, or no legs at all.


To paraphrase Monty Python's Flying Circus...that dates me right? Anyhow, anyone familiar with the classic British T.V. show will know this phrase...."And now for something completely different..."

I am familiar with the fungus that affects flies and then causes them somehow to climb to the highest available point to die but I have never seen an earwig similarly affected before. I wonder if it is exactly the same fungi?

You have to just marvel at nature in all its guises and and diversities, here's yet another strange invertebrate...

This is the green lacewing larva (Neuroptera) which feeds on aphids, greenfly and other small insects and then frequently puts their remains on to its own back as camouflage to allow it to creep up on other victims.

Well I really should be attending to other things and I'm sure you have demands on your time other than reading these blog entries, and so I shall refrain from lengthening this update any further, other than to leave you with a photo of terrier Herbie patiently sitting beside our local pond waiting for me to finish taking yet more photographs...

Until the next time...


  1. Wonderful as ever and, yes, I know I'm biased, but great to see these Shieldbugs as well! All good for the Atlas! :-)

    The 'fungusised' earwig is most likely by Entomophthora forficulae, which as the name suggests, is specific to earwings. The one which affects flies is Entomophthora muscae. Fascinating organisms!!

    Think your garden tigers may in fact be ruby tigers. The hairs on the tiger ones are longer and darker with some orange as well I think, whereas the ruby's are shorter and more brown (light to dark). But I could be wrong!! ;-)

    Interesting info about the millipedes and centipedes!

    Isn't Herbie just gorgeous!! What a patient dog he is! Could you give him a kiss from me? x


  2. PS Love the new look too! :-)

  3. Hi always, thanks for you interest and input. I had no idea about the species of fungus that affected earwigs as I had not come across it before, so that was most welcome information. I think you might be right about the tiger moths too...the garden tigers do seem to have longer hairs and even spots sometimes?

    Yes, the millipedes and centipedes are interesting little things that are often overlooked and apparently can live as long as seven years.

    Yes, Herbie is quite photogenic which is why he sometimes features here and I don't! I think he knows he's good lookin' too. As for being patient..yeah, he is most times and he loves the pond and will sit for ages just watching the movement in the water. I'll tell him he has an admirer anyway :-)

    Thank-you for your enthusiasm for the new look too by the way, just felt it was time to update a little...

  4. Nice info and shots. Didnt know milipede/centipede (too bad as thousands of them were around sometime back in monsoon). I also got another answer here. that is earwig. I am noticing one of them for last few days and was wondering what is it.

    1. Hi...thanks for your comments. Pleased you found something of interest. I am still trying to catch up with your older posts...

  5. Hi JJ.
    Trying to catch up with your blog this evening, another interesting read and, as ever, lovely photos. Think you have found the larva of a Ruby Tiger rather than a Garden tiger, been looking for these for sometime now but without much joy. Still plenty of bugs about, having time to get out with the camera is my problem at the mo. The earwig is amazing, thats one I've never seen before, not even on TV !!
    Keep up the good work,

    1. Hi Jason,
      Good to hear from you. Yes, sure that's right about the larvae. I seem to have found mine in open areas of long grass if that helps at all? Must try and catch up with your flickr photos, miss some of my old chums there!


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