Thursday, August 21, 2014

A Perry Como experience...

I always think when I go out bug-hunting that if.....oh, hang on! Before I do this, I wanted to just update you on the other egg(s) that I teased you with a few posts ago. You might remember I was asking if anyone could guess what this might be?
Well sad to say that nothing emerged from this ova at all. I am not sure if I failed to keep it in optimum conditions, but I was hoping that a tiny Black Arches moth larva would appear. I happen to know that was the moth which laid this egg and was looking forward to seeing and recording it. However it wasn't to be on this occasion.

Let me try again then...
I always think when I go out bug-hunting that if I find just one good thing, I will consider I have had a good day. Sometimes that will be a great photo opportunity, other times an uncommon or even rare (if I am very lucky) bug or insect. It might be as simple as being able to find the creature I have been set on locating on any particular day. 

What's all this preamble leading to? Well, an example of something that fits this criteria perfectly. It had been one of those frustrating days when I was starting to give up on the idea of turning up anything at all; let alone anything of interest. But then as I wandered home, I decided to take a short detour and found these...

Parent Bug nymphs (Elasmucha grisea)
They are parent bug nymphs and look like final instars. I have not seen these in such numbers before and so this was my 'magic moment' for the day. I would have been content with this find, but then by spending a little time examining the alder tree where I found these, I came across another batch...

It's quite a challenge to count how many there are, but it does seem to be remarkably similar in each photo? Here's a cropped version...

Such beautiful nymphs with those stripy waistcoats and brilliant green colouring. These bugs get their name of course from how the females will sit and brood the eggs and youngsters for some time.

I also found a few individuals wandering around...

Another shieldbug that seems to be having a good year judging by the numbers I am finding, is the common green shieldbug (Palomena prasina) and currently it's the final instar stage that I come across most often...

A number are now becoming adults too and I was lucky enough to find one actually moulting for the final time...

This bright, lime green, teneral colour will dull down in time and eventually of course come winter, the adults will take on a browner colouring. It doesn't matter how many times I observe this behaviour, it always affects me to think about the struggle of moulting or 'Ecdysis' to give it its correct name. Such a vulnerable time for all insects and traumatic too no doubt. To think that most will undergo this 4 or 5 times, it amazes me that any make it to become adults.

Whilst on the subject of bugs, I remember saying to a few friends at the start of the year that I just had a feeling it was going to be a bumper year for bug-hunting and it hasn't disappointed thus far. Another bug that I found locally, and by locally I mean within 100 yards of my front door, was the Nettle Bug (Heterogaster urticae) a common bug across southern Britain but not one I have ever found here, until this year...

I was surprised by the parent bug numbers but these were all over the nettle, wherever you looked, every stem seemed to be home to a posse...

Adult nettle bugs overwinter and then emerge to mate in the spring, during which time the sexes can remain coupled together for several days...a bit like Sting and Trudie then? Tantric bugs ;-)

One final bug then?... I did it again! Why do I add question marks to my text when you can't really answer? Damn...and again! Let's call it a rhetorical question shall we...Ha! Not gonna catch me again, didn't add one that time. Definition seems to fit : A question that you ask without expecting an answer. The question might be one that does not have an answer. It might also be one that has an obvious answer but you have asked the question to make a point, to persuade or for literary effect. 
Okay-enough prevarication, on with the motley...

A Bronze Shieldbug (Troilus luridus)
This little one was on the same alder tree as the parent bugs. These metallic looking nymphs (I think this is a mid-instar) do feed on plants, but also will eat caterpillars. The adults reach around 12mm in length.

Even though the season is moving towards autumn now, there is still an abundance of different insects and bugs to be seen, with different ones appearing as the months pass. Right now there are lots of these large hoverflies about...

Volucella pellucens

Another recent find was this striking mullein moth larva...

The mullein moth larva (Cucullia verbasci)
Such a brightly coloured larva for what will eventually become quite a plain moth.

When I was trawling through my photographs, looking to see which I could transfer to a satellite drive for safety the other evening, I came across a little video of some caterpillars 'twitching' as a defense mechanism and so I thought I'd end this update by sharing it here. There's also a more recent one of a predatory lacewing bug being stalked by a little insect nymph; a very dangerous thing for it to do and it must finally realise that itself, as it dives off the leaf after a while...


This second one makes me smile because this is exactly what a lot of little bugs will do when you are just about to press the shutter to photograph them.

Until the next time then...


  1. Well well well! Always love your blog entries JJ, but this one has to be amongst my faves so far with all these wonderful bugs!! Aren't the Parent bug instars fantastic??? I just love them!
    Also love the moutling Palomena. Been hoping to find one but despite finding plenty of final instars, none have shown any signs of being about to moult. You timed it perfectly!
    The colour is quite fantastic too!

    What a wonderful 'hoard' of Nettle ground bugs as well. Never seen quite so many together like it. Good that they're doing so well! :-)

    The Bronze nymph is a bit of a stunner too! Got to be one of my fave nymphs I think (with Parent of course!).

    Love the little videos as well.

    Autumn does seem to be here are little too quickly for my liking... hoping we'll have a little bit more summer yet!


    1. Thought YOU might like this one! Thanks for the comments and, yes I agree-still time for a summer encore yet ;-)

  2. What great finds. I often find shield bug nymphs but I've never seen a large group and I've never seen one in the process of the final moult.

  3. Thank-you Louise. Always nice to find something different...

  4. Stunning photos JJ, I too have managed to see some Parent bugs a few weeks back, I had given up as the wind was blowing. But if it had not been I would have missed these bugs on the back of the Alder tree leaf. There was two groups, one group had both parents attending their young. Out of all the new insects I have found this year, this has to be my favourite group of insects.
    Amanda xx

    1. Thank-you Amanda. They are spectacular as nymphs aren't they and I was so pleased to find them-incidentally, just today I found an adult sitting on eggs in a different spot...

  5. I've never seen any Parent Bugs! Nor Nettle Bugs nor the Bronze one. But I have found some Woundwort Shieldbugs recently and I think it was thanks to you that I first heard of them, which prompted me to have a look. Love the photos of all the bugs especially the gorgeous Parent Bugs.

    Interesting that you found a Mullein Moth larva as I saw my ones much earlier in summer. They are so cool. :-) Enjoyed your videos too but best of all is the moulting Green Shieldbug! Cracking photos. :-)

  6. Nooo! NOT gonna use the reply/grey box option ;-) Thank-you Mandy. I think there will be quite a few bugs that you see which I don't and so it kinda evens out I guess. Eventually you may see these anyhow but might have to venture out of the garden?

    Yes, I have a number of those woundwort bugs in the garden and so can be assured of finding them most years.

    Thanks for your comments again..


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