Saturday, April 12, 2014

A dozen species on one must be spring...

Warning! This post contains several short videos and if you only view the e.mail version you will not see them-you need to go online and view the original.

Last October I came across a huge, plump, gravid female vapourer moth in the garden. She produced eggs on a honeysuckle bush leaf. Before autumn arrived and they all fell to the ground, I collected and over-wintered them in a suitable spot.

I made sure they were kept fairly chilled, sprayed them occasionally with tepid water and then waited and hoped that they would survive what turned out to be a reasonably mild winter. 

I've been checking daily for any developments and today when I looked in on them, there were three of the tiniest larvae I have ever seen crawling around. I know that vapourer larvae will feed on most broad-leaved trees and also I remembered finding caterpillars on willow previously and thought that might be a safe bet as a food plant. They now have a nice supply as well as a few rose leaves, another place I have found them in the past-hopefully they will take to one or the other.

I guess the larvae are about 2mm at present and I am keen to see and learn how they develop having only ever found final instar larvae before. It will be great to witness the change in appearance at each moult and I already know the final stage before pupation will look very different to this little hairy beast.

In the garden, the blue tits that I hoped were nest building in one of the boxes have been busy visiting the box and even hopping in and out of it, one has been doing a lot of beak-wiping on the perch too. However, I haven't yet seen it taking in nesting materials, so I am not sure if it's going to happen at this stage.

Could it possibly be that this feline presence is putting them off?

Kent is looking fantastic right now

And in my local woods-'Comfort's wood' things are hotting up nicely. Although most of the trees here are around 20 years old, there is an area of ancient woodland as well and so I can never be sure quite what I might find. I have already turned up several notable species and the commoner invertebrate numbers seem to increase year on year.

Below is a selection of photographs taken on a recent walk around the woods. These were all taken on one visit...

I was pleased to find the tiny leafhopper (1st photo line 3) which I think is Javasella pellucida. 

There are plenty of butterflies around too...

And a couple of contrasting views of a hazel leaf-roller weevil I spotted on a different day...

I guess about 100 old fashioned yards from the house, there is a small stream and here I saw another interesting creature that I have neither seen before, or have much knowledge of...

And a short video of this creature...

You're going to know what this is (if you don't already) and I can only suggest that I think it must be a freshwater leech. It isn't like any I have seen before but can't think what else it could be.

This is more like the leeches I am used to seeing-these were in my little pond in the garden...

Well that just about wraps up another update-my final offering is this tiny rove beetle that I photographed on grass a few days ago...

Until the next time...


  1. Brilliant as usual JJ! Looking forward to seeing how the Vapourer larvae progress. They're so dinky now!
    Hope the Blue tits do decide to take up residence. Nice to see some interest anyway. Have any nested in that box before?

    Love the name 'Comfort's wood'! Makes it sound appealing, and your images make it even more so. Amazing variety in one visit. Always wanted to find a Earwig with eggs. A beautifully presented collage of images!

    Interesting about the leech. I've only ever seen the 'pond' ones from my Parent's pond. The freshwater one has lovely markings on it. They're fascinating but bizarre creatures aren't they?

    Reckon your little Rove could be one of the Tachyporus species. A stunning shot anyway!


  2. Thanks Maria. Yes, the blue tits have nested in this box before and one other in the garden. On checking my diaries I see that I didn't actually see them going in with nesting material for a few days yet and so I am still hopeful.

    Oh Comfort's Wood IS a joy! It gets better each year and is such a tranquil spot most times. Like everywhere I guess, each year also unfortunately sees a rise in litter being dropped too! I really should do a blog entry Just about these woods. Thanks for the heads up on that rove beetle, your suggestion does look good :-)


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