Wednesday, January 21, 2015

An Orange ladybird has 12-16 spots...whilst a 16-spot ladybird has 13-18 spots, does that make any sense?

Having recently introduced some random logs to the garden, in order to both provide a low feeding perch for the birds and to encourage more bugs, they have already started to pay dividends...

This rather large ground beetle was scurrying around one morning and with patience, I managed a few shots. As usual with these Carabid beetles, I can't be certain of an ID...

An Orange Ladybird (Halyzia 16-guttata)
Also known as Halyzia sedecimguttata. This ladybird was tucked away on one of the evergreen shrubs in the garden. The species usually sports 16 white spots, although it can be as few as 12 and is one of the ladybirds that gets attracted to the light of my moth trap in summer.

We've had some hard frosts and even a little snow of late and so the bug finds have been few, but I did get out one morning to take some pictures of the ice etc..


It seems that I really need to add a small tree of some description to the back garden, if I want to get as many species of wild birds visiting as possible. Most aren't keen on feeding in the open. Until that happens, I've placed a couple of feeders in the tree beside our front drive and in no time at all, have had good numbers of visitors that include these amazing Goldfinches...

 The usual reminder here that these videos won't appear in the e-mail version of this update-you will need to view online.

Amongst the ground feeding birds was this lovely Dunnock...

They are quite well camouflaged once they get into the leaf litter...

The Blue tits and Great tits have also been enjoying the sunflower hearts...

You are supposed to be able to tell in the summer months, how many yellowy-green caterpillars a tit has eaten by the yellowness of the male blue tit's breast.
They were certainly having a good feed of seeds and have been regularly emptying the feeder in less than a day; I even spotted one checking out one of the nest boxes...

Amazingly, there are still aphids in the garden too...

I suppose it is conceivable that this is the very same snail-eating beetle I found in the garden a while back? 

Silpha atrata

Silpha atrata 

Erm...what else have I come across in the garden since my last update? Well there was this rather beautiful moth cocoon...

Again I couldn't say with any certainty which moth this might be but I aim to find out. I have placed it in a small open-top container in a quiet corner, so that I can keep tabs on how it is doing come springtime.

I do know what this one is though; a butterfly pupa this time-the pupa or chrysalis of an Orange-tip butterfly in fact...

You can see in this photograph that the silk girdle has been broken; probably by the strong winds and rough weather we have had. However, the cremaster (that little dome between the stem and the pupa) is still holding the pupa fast against the twig and so I think all is well.

Macro photography offers huge rewards and satisfaction and a real sense of achievement when things are going well, but one of the curses of macro-photography is undoubtedly sensor dust. It is almost an occupational hazard that we all have to confront at some time and that time is now for me...

Cleaning your camera's sensor can be an expensive business with most stores charging an average of £50 per clean. For most jobs, these quality swabs are the alternative I choose to use: Costing me around £23 including delivery, they should be enough for 4 sensor cleans. That's my job sorted for this afternoon then...

Until the next time...


  1. Fabulous blog and accompanying shots again JJ! Love the beetles. The Carabid *might* be Pterostichus melanarius as it's all black but could be wrong! Love the Silpha atrata. As ever, you've got some gorgeous detail in the shots.

    Aren't Orange ladybirds lovely? I do love their translucent pronotums.

    Nice to see so many birds visiting too! Think Dunnocks are rather under rated for some reason as hey're lovely looking birds if time is taken to appreciate their plumage.

    Any news on the Western Conifer seedbug?

    M x

    1. fast to comment Maria x
      I will check out your suggestion for that big beetle then. Yes, I often see the orange ladybirds in winter and they're like little rays of sunshine ;-) Agreed about the pronotum too-I was trying to show that off in the photos. The Dunnock has so much to offer if you take the time to look closely, a smashing little bird for sure.

      The still okay in a quiet corner of the garden shed, I check on it regularly and provide water and fresh foliage should it want it and thus far...all seems well.

      Thanks for your comments and continuing interest...

  2. PS Just noticed your quote at the top! I couldn't agree more with Mr Sand!!

    1. Yes, it's a quote that seemed to fit so well with what I always try to tell folks who say to me that they never see the things I see ;-) By the way..if you look up George Sand you'll see that he's a woman...if you get my drift ;-)

      Had a brief look around for confirmation of your ID on my beetle and the only thing that concerns me a little is the lack of...roundness to the rear of the pronotum-what do you think? (Might need to copy and past this if you can)

    2. You're probably quite right JJ! They are so difficult. Hopefully someone with more expertise will be able to help. Will you upload to Flickr?

      Just looked Ms Sand up! What a fascinating person!

    3.'s so tricky as an amateur to be sure, that's how I feel anyway but even so, you may be proved right after all ;-) I suppose I could put it on flickr too yes. Thanks for taking the time to look up George Sand, there seem to be some similarities to vita Sackville-West in her life?

      A quote of hers I like is this one: “It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment? For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone. That is where the writer scores over his fellows: he catches the changes of his mind on the hop.”


    4. Here's the missing 'e' from the word 'paste' sorry about that ;-)

  3. I have missed your posts and beautiful photography, I have a bug hotel at the bottom of the garden, but I do like the large logs you have placed out, good for feeding the birds on too. The garden birds have been very busy and I have to fill the feeders daily.
    Amanda xx

    1. 'Scuse me being rude and butting in on JJ's blog, but not sure if you've seen my comment on your blog Amanda. It was just to say that this bug: I believe to be Harpocera thoracica

      Best wishes


    2. Thanks Maria and JJ have been and up dated I.D on Bug blog...
      Amanda xx

  4. Hi Amanda-thank-you, I suppose it has been a mixture fewer subjects and lack of time that has meant less updates but spring is around the corner ;-)

    A bug hotel is something I keep meaning to construct..I was thinking I might cut some bamboo to use.

  5. Some interesting finds for January! Great shots of the beetles and the ladybird is a pretty little thing. I hadn't realised that kind had a see through eye shield! I had a look around yesterday but no sign of any ladybirds around. Absolutely love that Orange Tip chrysalis, it's an interesting shape. Birdy shots and videos are great too. :-)

    1. Thanks as always Mandy-yes the orange ladybird always fascinates me with that 'helmet' protecting it's head...shame you didn't find any in your garden but I have no doubt you'll be finding many more things than I do come summer ;-)


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