Sunday, November 23, 2014

An international flavour to this update...

It's around three weeks since I last updated the blog and so what has been happening during that time?

Well the main event for me was the sudden appearance of a large migrant bug in my bathroom window. It's one that I have found once before, but that was out in the field and a few miles from home and so this was a bit of a surprise, They must be spreading faster and further than I'd appreciated...

A Western Conifer Seed Bug (Leptoglossus occidentalis)

A Western Conifer Seed Bug (Leptoglossus occidentalis)

This is a large squash bug that is similar to our own Dock Bug but more elongate in shape and around 20mm rather than the 15mm of Coreus marginatus. Here's a piece about the distribution of this interloper, with due credit to : 

Geographical Distribution
Leptoglossus occidentalis was originally restricted to western parts of the United
States, Canada and Mexico, but in recent decades it has spread eastward and can
now be found over almost the whole of North America. It was accidentally
introduced into Europe in 1999, to northern Italy, and has since spread rapidly, being
recorded from Switzerland in 2002, Spain and Slovenia in 2003, Croatia and
Hungary in 2004, Austria in 2005, Germany, France, Serbia and the Czech Republic
in 2006, Belgium, Britain and Slovakia in 2007, and from Montenegro and Poland in
2008. In the UK, the majority of records have been of adults observed at light traps
along the south coast of England, clearly indicating a large migration across the

English Channel.

Here's a photo showing the very distinctive expansion of the hind tibiae...

I think this one must have been attracted to the light and then came in through an open window. They are known to enter buildings in search of a hibernation spot. Which brings me to this little video; it doesn't show any interesting behaviour, but it was taken after I released it into the garden. It was quite a windy day by the way...

Three days have elapsed since I placed the bug on this plant, I have kept an eagle eye on it each day and it is still in exactly the same spot; well, on the same plant anyhow. It has just concealed itself underneath one of the leaves and that has me wondering if the garden was the best choice to release it, when maybe I ought to have kept it inside somewhere for the winter?

I read recently of a couple of people who have kept these in a dry but cool place and that they can live on just water and reserves through the winter months- maybe I'll consider that, if it remains in place much longer?

A Canadian friend recently sent me a photograph of what she suspected was 'spider related' and asked if I could confirm. She lives in Burlington-Ontario Canada...

The Canadian mystery object
 I was able to tell her that it does indeed look like a spider egg sac and possibly an Orb Weaver (maybe the Cross Orb Weaver-Aranueus diadematus.) Coincidentally, I found a very similar one a couple of days ago under a log...

Here's a little added information I cribbed from the internet, as I know Cathy will be looking forward to having up to 800 spiderlings come next spring...

Male spiders reach adulthood ahead of females and may pair up with immature females, waiting for them to become sexually mature. Females spin egg sacs in late summer or autumn that are about 20mm in diameter and comprised of golden silk. They are constructed (seemingly “plastered”) in a protected place somewhat away from the web, sometimes attached to the eaves of buildings or inside rolled-up leaves or other foliage. Female dies shortly after laying her eggs. Each egg sac can contain anywhere from 100 to 800 yellowish eggs. Typically, only one egg sac is made per female. Spiderlings emerge from the sac the following spring and remain clumped together for a day or two, after which they disperse.

One of my own reference photos of the 'cute' spiderlings

Whilst we are visiting the Northern Hemisphere, I don't think by the way there's any foundation to the story I read about Canada being a migratory country that 'we pick up and move to wherever the weather is nicest' but anyhow, I have a good friend who lives in California, who this year was lucky enough to be able to visit the monarch butterfly migration in Natural Bridges, Santa Cruz.

They have very kindly given me permission to share a few photographs on my blog, for which I am very grateful...

Monarch butterflies return to the Californian coast in September/October each year in search of the milder temperatures. Most will have journeyed some 1,500 miles from places like Washington, Arizona and New Mexico and will remain through 'til March...

The monarch migration from their summer breeding ground takes four generations, meaning that the ones arriving this year are the great-great grandchildren of the ones from last year.

It has been known for this beautiful butterfly to turn up in the UK but with total sightings at less than 500 since the 1800s I won't be holding my breath to see one anytime soon; I just wish I'd been there myself to witness what must have been a spectacular event.

Lastly I wanted to include a shot of the fantastic larvae, oh and thank 'TT' for allowing me to include these pictures...

Something that I came across completely by accident, when I was photographing other things, was this robin doing what I can only describe as grunting. It's only a very short clip and a bit shaky too...I will explain after you watch the video...

In all honesty, the reason this isn't great is that I have to admit, I was out with the macro rig when I saw this robin and so, keeping the macro and flash in one hand, I got the trusty point and shoot in the other, zoomed in and just shot what I thought was a photo, without checking the settings. It transpired that the camera was set on video mode...Ooops!

I haven't seen a robin do this before but I suppose it must be territorial? Either that or it's got a cough...

The unseasonably mild weather has continued here in Kent and that has allowed the garden wildlife to remain active to a point. I spotted this damsel bug on the butterfly bush (Buddleia) when I was checking for aphids, of which there are huge numbers right now...

A phone grab of the aphids

On the same plant I also found this threesome...

2 x Moth larvae and a Green Tortoise Beetle

And under a fallen leaf I found this soldier beetle larva. The larva are soil dwelling and are predatory...

Cantharis larva

Cantharis larva
This last image will probably give you a better idea of the size of this larva...

And although I can't be certain exactly which species this is, the adult beetle will look something like this...

In my experience it won't be an adult long before it's doing this either!

That about wraps up yet another update, I'll leave you with this shot of the little lane I walk most days...

Until the next time...


  1. Ooooh I am soooooooo green as regards your visitor!!! Always wanted to see one and despite looking in France where they're more common, I've yet to be lucky. Poor thing... needs tucking up somewhere nice and sheltered! Do you have a shed or other place like it where he could go?

    All the photos are stunning as ever. Love the Cantharid larva.
    Thank you also for sharing the Monarch butterfly images. What a sight that must be with trees practically 'dripping' with them! Wow!

    Funny grunting robin! Near work, I have a crow with a high pitched squeaky voice. Makes me laugh each time I hear him!

    Do keep us updated as regards the WCS bug please! :-)


    1. I'm sure it's only a matter of time Maria ;-) Don't worry, I have the perfect spot to overwinter him.
      Thanks for your comments and, yes I agree the butterflies must have been a wonderful sight to witness...maybe one day? ;-) I'll let you know how the WCSB gets on.

  2. That's so interesting that you found that WCS bug not long after I found my first one! I imagine they can survive our winters - well to be honest I have not thought about it but I doubt they die out and then arrive afresh each year. So I don't think your one will have a problem - if they survive the harsh winters in most of the US they'll survive our milder winters. Fab pic of the hind legs which are quite something, aren't they?!

    Seeing a Monarch is on my bucket list (along with hummingbirds) but I guess I'll have to visit the States for those...... :-)

    Great pics of the soldier beetle larvae, I've never seen those before. So, still some insect life around if you look for it - I've not been doing to too much of that of late but our forecast is for 17C and some SUN on Saturday so I will be out armed with camera no matter how I'm feeling! There are still some flowers around.... but I'll probably get my waterproof trousers on so I can kneel/sit and get down in there without worrying about getting sopping wet. Great post as usual! :-)

    1. Thanks Mandy-hmmm... not sure if that analogy works ;-) These will be bugs born and bred here and will know nothing about their American cousins, so maybe they will be as hardy and maybe not, I really don't know. Anyway, I'll ensure it's okay one way or the other.

      Yeah Hummingbirds would be a joy for sure and the Monarch's also but it's a bit of a journey ;-)

      Good luck with your planned foray...


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