Saturday, September 20, 2014

In which 'JJ' rescues a field vole...

Lots of things happening over the past couple of weeks and so I am hoping it'll make for an interesting blog update.

Just before I make a start on the photographs, there seem to be no signs of my Death's Head Hawkmoth larvae emerging yet and so I guess they will now over-winter, then I shall have to keep an eye on them come spring/early summer for signs of movement.

A couple of mystery objects for starters then....

This one was in long grass beside a lake, a damp meadow I guess would be a better description. I only found the one cocoon, assuming that's what it is, but have no idea what might have made it. ~20mm

And this one as you can see was on common stinging nettle. It was I guess about 12-15mm and looked like honeycomb with all of the holes that I assume must be flight holes? Exit holes? Again, not sure what this would be as I haven't seen one before-maybe a wasp of some sort?

Whilst I was checking out the nettles, I came across a number of what I think are Small Tortoiseshell caterpillars that had been parasitised...

I am not sure if this is the tiny fly 'Stumia bella' that was responsible for the last decline in the South East of the country.
 I then spotted this ladybird that had also picked up a parasite, I think this one is the work of 'Dinocampus cocccinellae' a braconid wasp. Apparently, this ladybird is still alive and some even survive the ordeal but it's not known if they are able to feed etc.

Next is this teneral bug that I am pretty sure is a Birch Catkin bug (Kleidocerys resedae) but being so pale, I can't see the three rows of puncture marks on the clavus that would confirm the identity...  


I have also been seeing a number of teneral Dock bug nymphs as well...

My moth trap has been a bit of a disaster this year. I have no idea why as yet but catches have been very sparse regards numbers and even then, only the usual suspects. Other folk have been getting large numbers locally and so I am thinking it may well be something that needs improving with the trap itself. The last time I set it up, I had more insects on the white ground sheet underneath the trap than actually in it; they were mostly the ever-present crane flies. I guess it will be a winter job now to try and improve it for next season. I might have another try yet though if conditions are right. It could really do with an increase in size as well and so maybe an overhaul is required.

This next find was something that made my day. But then a couple of days later, in a totally different area, it got even better! The first of my discoveries was this rather smart looking, late instar Iron Prominent moth larva...

At least, this is what I believe it to be having searched for a close match. Caterpillars as so tricky because they can change so much with each moult.

Imagine my surprise then when I was a few miles away and looking for dragonflies, and saw this mature individual...

Iron Prominent~Notodonta dromedarius

Iron Prominent~Notodonta dromedarius

I have found prominent moth caterpillars before and they are always striking in appearance, this was a real beauty though. Here are a couple of the previous prominent larvae finds as a comparison...

A Pale Prominent larva

A Pebble Prominent larva

The caterpillar that is on my hit list for next year, actually is on the list every year as they are not easy to find, is this one...

Lobster Moth Caterpillar
This isn't one of my photos and I can't remember now where it came from and so if you are the owner, please get in touch and I will be happy to add a credit.

I've been saying for a while now that although 2014 has generally been a good year for invertebrates, there has been a real drop in the numbers of true bugs, miridae etc. Whilst I was searching an alder tree for bugs recently I was pleased then to find this little nymph...

Pantilius tunicatus
This one is Pantilius tunicatus, a mirid bug (Plant bug) and is one of the late season bugs that don't usually appear until September. Commonly found on hazel, alder and birch trees. Here is an adult insect that I found on the same tree...

Pantilius tunicatus (adult)

Pantilius tunicatus (adult)

These strange looking sawfly larvae always make me smile. I find them quite often on alder trees but they are usually clamped down with the head retracted and so this time I was lucky and managed a head shot too.

Platycampus luridiventris

Platycampus luridiventris

Last inline for this update is not an invertebrate at all but a mammal that I rescued from a local cat that was terrorising it just as I happened by. You can see that the cat had been biting its back but I am fairly sure there was no real damage and it was just shocked. I made sure it could escape to somewhere safe and then ensured the cat was well away from the area. I stayed around for a while too...just in case it returned...

A Field Vole

Until the next time....


  1. Amazing photos and great selection of insects, there are still many to be found. I still haven't managed to see a Dock bug, but have seen a lot of Harlaquin larvae this week as well as Sheild bugs found one in the house to day ! Great post.
    Amanda xx

    1. Thanks Amanda. Yes, there are still insects to be found here although numbers are falling now. Not been seeing Harlequins here though. Thanks for your comment...

  2. You always find such interesting things! I have no idea about the first two mystery objects and have never seen parasitised ladybirds or caterpillars with that fluffy stuff! As for the moth caterpillars, I'm so envious. I knew of the Lobster Moth cat and yes it's on my wishlist too. But the Iron Prominent is amazing so hoorah for finding them both in one day. That must have made your day.

    Little voley is very cute and I hope it survived, and I'm now going to have to look out for that interesting looking sawfly on my alders, as I wasn't aware of that one. A very interesting post. :-)

    1. Ooops! Forgot to use the reply option so that you would get a notification ;-)

    2. Nooooooo - it's me who has to press the Notify Me button to get the reply. I then get ALL comments on the post (with some people with lots of fans that can be a pain in the bum so I have to go and unsubscribe to the comments). It would help if you did just get the reply via email, instead of the whole lot! So I got this and the proper reply below. I will/do look underneath the alder leaves as I'm still finding Eriocampa ovata (not checking that name so hope it's correct) under them. Was going to do a post about alders and sawfly larvae next. Maybe. :-)

    3. Hi Mandy-Yes, I knew that you had to press the notify me thingy but I was thinking that I had just added a comment, rather than using the reply option on my blog, hence you wouldn't then get the notification...if you get what I mean? In other words, I thought the 'Notify Me' option only worked for replies and not comments ;-) Having said all that, I think I DID use reply anyhow!

    4. Unfortunately it works for all comments and replies after you've clicked it, so for those people who get tons of comments you get emails for them all, unless you go and unsubscribe!

  3. Thanks Mandy. The parasitised caterpillars were a first for me but have seen quite a number of ladybirds over the years, nearly always 7-spot too. The moth Caterpillars are great aren't they...such interesting creatures and these seem to have almost an oriental look about them for me.

    Yes, I hope the vole survived too, it didn't seem badly hurt but I bet that cat would have returned once I departed?

    Those sawfly larvae are best looked for underneath alder leaves if it helps...good luck!

  4. Those Moth larvae are wonderful. I am yet to see even a first such larva of any species and adds to how beautiful I find them :-). and, that sawfly larva too is very lovely.

    1. Hey thanks ;-) Yes, they are exquisite creature to my mind, as so many are.

  5. Wowee!! Slowly catching up and what a great blog this is again JJ! Those caterpillars are spectacular! I'd love to find either (or both)!

    Fascinating mystery 'objects' too. Will have to have a mooch about and see if I can find out any more about them.

    Each and every photo is fantastic as ever! Especially love the PoV you've got on those sawfly larvae. They're so peculiar aren't they?

    What a very lucky vole that was. Hope it did get away! :-)


    1. No probs obligation at all but thanks as always for your comments. The cats are great aren't they. Yeah...not sure at all about these latest mystery thingies ;-) Thanks for your lovely comment about my photos too.



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