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...

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Froggy went a courtin'...

Hmmm.....

I just thought I'd start with a 'Hmm'...hmmm really translates as, 'there's so much I could blog about now that the bug season is well underway, but, what to choose?'



I guess I'll try and cover as much as possible without meaning to skip around too much. Let's go back to a day when the sun was shining and the Military Canal in Appledore was where I spent a couple of happy hours.

I wasn't sure what I'd see on the day but I was hoping that I might encounter the fabulous marsh frogs that are well known residents of this area. They are quite a bit bigger than our indigenous species and the males can be quite vocal at this time of year.




What I didn't expect to see in the water were grass snakes...


video
(The usual reminder about being able to view videos only via the blog direct as they don't show in the e.mailed version)



I was lucky enough to find some frogs and took a few photos...


And here's the noise they make...

video





Moving along then, I seem to be finding unusually high numbers of green tortoise beetles this year... 








There are at least two different species here but even so, quite a difference in colour and vibrancy between them.




There also seem to be plenty of acorn weevils locally this year...





Now that the weather has improved and most of the trees are looking splendid in their spring/summer foliage, the egg-laying has started in earnest for lots of our native insects and bugs-here are a few recent sightings I've had...


An Orange-tip butterfly egg
Shield-bug eggs



Hoverfly ova (Syrphidae)

A single Hazel leaf-roller weevil egg
Wasp eggs?






Something I found whilst looking at nettle, a great place for lots of creepy-crawlies, was this odd looking growth. I wondered if it was some kind of gall?
A bit of research was called for and this is what I discovered; I think it might be an answer, unless anyone knows better?

The common stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) can be affected by the small Cecid fly-Dasineura urtica. It lays its eggs at the base of the leaf or in the main leaf veins. The larvae then consume the inner tissues of the leaf. But....other predatory flies will often lay their eggs in these leaf pouches that the original grubs created, then on hatching, these larvae predate on the original occupants. 
I think maybe that's what is happening here as the original grubs would be white/pale but the second are pink, orange or red.



Oh! Another oddity I discovered whilst out walking was this tiny fungi. It was on some fallen branches in a mostly pine forest...





Well my promise to try and prevent this blog update from becoming too disjointed is already failing miserably and added to that, it's becoming something of an epic already and so I guess I should think about wrapping it up fairly soon-I have a couple more photos to share first though, starting with this rather nice and aptly named lace-bug; apologies for the black and white image, sometimes I get all artistic! Actually, I think it does show the detail well in mono in this instance.


An optimistic glow-worm?
I know that these glow-worm larvae live on a diet of snails, but surely this is quite a size to tackle? I didn't have time to hang about and see who triumphed here but my money is on the snail surviving.

Although I have lots more that I would love to add to this update, it's perfectly possible that should I continue, I would be in danger of making this three times as long as it ought to be, rather than as it is now, twice as long and so I will squeeze in one last photo if I may and then hightail it outta here and hope that you'll be back here to share the next (more concise) update....please?

A yellow-tail moth larva
Until the next time then...


"And finally"...if you were wondering at all about the title of this blog update?