Friday, May 30, 2014

Featuring a moth that looks like a rug....

A few loose ends to tie up from previous updates before I get into this latest one. Just to refresh your memory, I had this tiny cocoon that I found and have been keeping, in the hope that I would eventually find out what was going to emerge from it.
It did look as though the larva that I had videoed inside had been parasitised and so the expectation was that it might be one of the wasps that are know for this behaviour. Well, I'll keep you in suspense no longer, because I am here to tell you that what has actually emerged is.....................nothing! I'm not sure anything will now either?

Maybe the conditions that I have been storing the cocoon in weren't right, who knows, but I will keep observing just in case.

The other thing that needs updating from a previous post is how the vapourer moth eggs that I found progressed, or at least, how the larvae got on.

I think it was April 11th that the first small larva emerged and they had all matured by May 5th.

On with the update proper then and once again I have been spoiled for choice as to what to include here. Let's start with a bug that gave me a few headaches trying to ID as I had found it once before and failed-I had to settle for the B.H.D Bug on that occasion-here he (or she) is then...

Why B.H.D. Bug? Just the epithet I gave it in the absence of anything better. It stands for 'Bad hair day bug' but since my initial find back in June of last year Link is here I have been reliably informed by somebody who has a far greater knowledge than I do on these things, that they are Woolly Alder Aphids (Prociphilus tessellatus) and although they look nothing like any aphids I have seen before, as always, I am happy to be informed of the correct identity of these little ones.

It's quite easy to find nymphs of all kinds of bugs right now and close to where I spotted the aphids, I came across these red-legged shieldbug nymphs/mid-instars...

I've spoken before about bugs moulting and how they need to shed their exoskeleton to be able to grow. Well recently I was lucky enough to find a mirid bug that was halfway through this process and I managed a photo of it trying to release itself from the old skin or exoskeleton...

 Rhabdomiris striatellus

On another day, I sat and watched as a couple of male malachite beetles jousted with their antennae on a grass seed-head...

This went on until  the weaker of the two was ousted in no uncertain manner and tossed from the grass before he had a chance to beat a retreat. I daresay they were fighting over a female-you know how boys are come spring. 02/06/14 (Edit: Please see comments for information on this image)

My moth trapping has been the one disappointment this year thus far-I have run it several times now without any really significant finds, or numbers come to that. On one particular night I thought I might have had a visit from a very large moth, maybe a hawk-moth or similar? What I found when I investigated was actually not a moth at all but this huge hornet...

Sawflies? Aren't they really hard to identify with any degree of confidence? So many variations, even within species and instars. Take this beauty I found the other day...

Now I assume that this will be either a dusky birch or just plain birch sawfly. It was found on birch after all but it could so easily be one of the others.

Although the moth trap has been less than exciting to date, I did find this spectacular day-flying moth on one of my walks. This is surely one of the most spectacular day-flying moths, with its striking colour combinations and those large, furry palps...

Alabonia geoffrella

Centrotus cornutus
The horned tree hopper (pictured above) must rival that moth in terms of looking spectacular and I always make a point of looking out for these in local woodland each May-I have found them on nettle, bramble, hop and even willow-herb but this year I was treated to a first in terms of location. I spotted a couple on one particular day and having photographed the first moved on to the second when I noticed that it appeared to be perched on something quite odd looking...

This is actually a caterpillar (possibly orange-tip) that has attached itself to the stalk and has started the pupating process. Quite how or why the tree hopper is sat astride the caterpillar is a mystery to me; perhaps it's as simple as it landed there by mistake ? It certainly wouldn't be interested in predation.

Q.I. Huh? Well, I thought so. Apologies for the photo being in black and white here by the way. It wasn't intended to be so but...there's a story about it that's far too embarrassing to share here!

Back to Technicolour for the last shot I'm going to add to this update then-a couple of may bugs on lupins in the garden. I was pleased with this shot but it's really a substitute for the hummingbird hawk-moth  that I failed to get when I saw it feeding in the garden recently.

Until the next time...


  1. Well JJ your photos are just amazing.. Love the photo of Alabonia geoffrella moth..stunning. The larva of the Vapourer moth is something I would love to see.Have seen the Woolly Alder Aphid at the park there are also woolly aphids on the Larch trees, they are a little smaller and their "woolly" nest is built different, amazing insects when you read about their life cycle. Also have seen some Malachite beetles this week a first for me.
    Amanda xx

    1. Thank-you for your enthusiasm Amanda. Yes, now that I have found those aphids...I am also hooked on finding out a little more about them. The moth is a joy isn't it and you should be able to spot the vapourer larvae if you keep your eyes peeled, I have seen quite a few this year at different stages and on several food plants.

  2. Awesome as ever JJ! Love the Horned froghopper! They're fabulous looking creatures!
    Interesting about it being on the caterpillar and think you must be right about it just having landed there.

    The emerging Rhabdomiris is stunning too! Fascinating watching bugs moult I think!

    Whilst they are (as always) all fabulous photos, my fave this time is the one of the Cockchafers! Stunning!! Although I also love the shieldbug nymph and hornet as well! :-)

    Now, the Malachite beetles. Don't think they're two males disputing.
    The one on the left has plain antennae, that's the female. The male, with the yellow protrusions on his antennae produces a secretion, called an excitator, that the female eats during the courtship process.
    Hopefully they 'met up' again after they were separated to finish what they started! ;-)

    Best wishes


    1. Thanks for your compliments Maria. Regards the malachite beetles...I'm afraid I assumed...something you should never do ;-) They did look very much like they were fighting as one was constantly pushing back the other, or that's how it seemed to me but perhaps she was trying to repel his advances! You learn something new every day though and I had wondered what those protrusions were and even read on somebody else's blog that they thought they might be pollen. Thank-you as always for correcting me and providing the right information.

    2. Have read the comments Maria has left, very interesting..I have popped the reason on my blog as it was I who was thinking it might be pollen on the antennae.
      Amanda x

    3. Hi Amanda,
      Yes, Maria is very good at these things and can always be relied on to come up with useful information on these things, she has been a great help with my posts. Glad it did you a good turn too-was thinking it must have been on your post that I read it ;-)


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