Thursday, March 26, 2015

Which bug drinks through its anus and doesn't urinate?

I don't usually like distractions of any kind whilst writing these updates; that includes music, but this morning (24th March) feeling a little strung-out and tense from....well, let's just call them 'noises off'? I'll say no more than it involves neighbours children screaming unchallenged for what seems like hours and at a level that can be heard inside my house as clear as day, I scanned the CD rack (yes, I'm afraid I haven't fully joined the digital revolution yet, in fact, I'm still in mourning for my old vinyl discs) and looked for something that would serve as an antidote to all that.....kerfuffle. 

I found the perfect thing-Clifford T.Ward is to be recommended as one of the best singer/songwriters to emerge during the 1970s and multiple sclerosis claimed his life way too early.

And so I was sitting here contemplating how to begin this writing, when his song 'A Day To Myself' came on and although the beautiful, poignant lyrics are Clifford reflecting on all the lives lost at war over the years, this line seemed to fit so well with this time of year...'When April was about to smile on England'. 

Yes April in all its glory, is almost upon us and you feel that our stop-start spring is about to burst into life at any moment. Let's get cracking on updating you on what's been happening then...

The blue-tits that I have been hoping will use the nest box that I fitted a camera inside, have been showing more interest. They seem to be into a routine of checking it out every morning between about 8 and 8.30am.

 I also got this brief view on the video camera...

 To encourage them to nest build and ensure there is enough nesting material to hand, I have hung a net filled with moss close by...fingers crossed...

And here's one of them in the cherry tree...

I haven't seen too many native ladybirds this year yet but did find plenty of the tiny 16-spot still overwintering in quite large aggregations...

16-spot Ladybirds (Tytthaspis 16-punctata)
And a few snapped with my phone...

This is the first butterfly that I have seen at close enough range to photograph this year-it's a small tortoiseshell recently out of hibernation.

There is lots of goat willow in flower right now and that seems to be attracting the attention of the golden dung flies...

Scathophaga stercoraria

Scathophaga stercoraria-A Golden or Yellow Dung-fly

An update wouldn't be complete without a spider photo and so I should probably include this wolf spider?

The nursery web spiders are back too...

Now!This is a really strange one...I found these little bugs recently in the kitchen but, I have no idea what they could be-any guesses at an identity would be really appreciated...

I do know what these next creatures are though and it isn't a couple of little sweeties-well, actually they are kinda sweet but you know what I mean...

Yes they do look a little like sweets (candy for our overseas friends) or even pills maybe? You would hope so because that's the origin of their common name of Pill Millipedes. Here's what they look like when not curled into a tight ball...

Pill Millipede (Glomeris marginata) 
Most pill millipedes are black but they also come in brown, red and yellow.

Pill Millipede (Glomeris marginata) 
Not to be confused with pill woodlice which only have seven pairs of legs, rather than the 18 (around) that these millipedes have. Fascinating creatures, for instance, did you know that they don't urinate? They can tolerate ammonia gas, which they can pass directly through their exoskeleton. Strange? Maybe to us it seems strange but not as strange as the fact that they can drink through their rear ends! Yes it's true, they have special tube structures called uropods that are used to 'wick' up water.

Weird enough for you? Have you heard of coprophagy? It is yet another trick these millipedes get up to and involves eating their own poop!  Apparently they loose a little copper each time they poo and can replace it by eating their own poop.

My first Bee-fly of the year...

Also my first moth of the season-found on a fence-post...
And so, as you can tell from this update, things are moving in the right direction at last with a lot more finds now. All we need is some decent spring weather and all will be well.

Until the next time..


  1. Another wonderful post JJ, will pinch the idea of putting some moss out for the Blue tits, have tried wool in the past without much luck, think I would have wet my self finding so many Ladybirds in one place, have been looking on warm days , just a couple of Harlequins. Have seen one Pill Millipede, a very interesting insect. A Bee-fly as well, you have got some lovely finds for March.
    Amanda xx

  2. What a lovely bunch of bugs! I don't think I've seen a pill woodlouse, and didn't even know there was a pill millipede! Haven't seen a nursery web spider yet, though to be honest I have not been in the garden very much this last week. Not been terribly spring like with with wind, showers, heavy frosts etc! Fed up that I can't get down to take macros or even close ups of new flowers coming into bloom, but at least I can look and enjoy. Taken no photos since my last blog post, so I rely on everyone else's photos instead to brighten up my days. :-)

  3. Another brilliant blog! To think that we're already a third of the way through April now... where does time go? Don't talk to me about noisy kids...
    So, have the blue tits taken residence now? They couldn't possible want for more!!
    Speaking of updates, any news on the Western Conifer seed bug? Has it moved on now?

    Those 16 spots are amazing! Never seen so many together like that!

    Used to have some of those sticky insects when I was little! Lol! Kept me entertained for hours too! ;-)


    1. Hi again Maria...thank-you for another lovely comment, well...comment(s) then ;-) the great Sandy Denny once famously sang, 'Who knows where the time goes'. I don't mind noisy kids per-say, but there's noisy and noisy! Hmmm...the tits? Well...still not sure but the visits seem to have dropped off now sadly. I am wondering if it's the presence of a couple of local cats that sit on a nearby shed roof, or even our noisy neighbours, who have just sited a trampoline withing 5 years of the nest-box. Not given up yet though, I so want it to happen ;-)

      Yeah..I usually see lots of 16-spot but thought maybe not this year, until I found them all in a slightly different location.

      Yep! I also remember those bug toys from years ago...

    2. Ooops! That should read as within 5 yards...not changed it and I didn't bother to check ;-)

    3. Forgot to update you on the WCSB as well ;-) It has already left me for pastures new Maria. After being sedentary for ages, it began to get restless and so I found a nice spot and released it on a warm day...

    4. Pleased the WCSB went on his way (was it in my direction??? ;-))
      Fingers crossed for the Blue tits. I guess a lot of it is also down to what else is available in the vicinity!


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