Saturday, July 30, 2016

I've got a note from my mummy...

If anyone has been following the (sad) story of my moth trap adventures, and I can't think of a good reason why you would, because it has been a bit of a fiasco over, well the past three years. For reasons that I fail to fully understand, my moth count has been way below what I might have expected since 2013, when I had a terrific year. I do know that many others suffered last year with reduced numbers but despite trying several modifications to my home-made trap, nothing seemed to work and I had almost given up hope.

Anyhow, just on the off-chance that you may still be interested, let me share this news with you. As a last-ditch attempt to return to the heady days of 2013. I tried one last trick. I purchased a larger, stronger mercury lamp and BINGO!

And so I ran the moth trap and numbers were much better, although the variety of species was not so good. Then we had all the foul weather with very few dry and windless nights. Last week however, the stars were aligned in my favour; at least the ones I could see were, and so I ran it once again and results were much improved. 

As my time is at a premium for a while yet whilst I get my health sorted out, I have decided to just add a few from the catch right here on the blog update, rather than adding the whole catch to the 'moth trap diary' page. If I get a chance, I will upload them all to the correct page at a later date...

Note: I no longer use high res pics for my blog since people seem to take advantage and use them without permission. Therefore, please don't expect too much from clicking on them for a larger view.

Black Arches

Black Arches

Black Arches

Early Thorn

Early Thorn (different specimen)

Early Thorn

Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing
Fresh specimens of this moth above have a light green collar that turns brown with age and so I think we can say that this is a fresh one.

Buff Arches

Buff Arches

Buff Arches

I think this one is a Small Magpie?

No ID on this one yet...

Silver Y

There were a lot more than this of course, around 40+ if you include several individuals of each species.

It's been a while since I taunted you with a spider picture and so I will put that right here...

Perhaps some kind of orb weaver spider? Marbled maybe? I really don't know, but it caught my eye...

There are absolutely loads of bug nymphs around now; here are a few that I have found by just wandering around my local patch...

Coreus marginatus nymph (probably 1st instar)

And another, just because they are so cute

I didn't have to look far for this Green Shieldbug nymph, it was indoors on the net curtain

Leptopterna species nymph

Plagiognathus arbustorum would be my best guess on this tiny one

A Woundwort Shieldbug nymph

On the days I have been able to get out and enjoy the countryside, I have tried to find and photograph as many bugs as I can. Below is a selection...

A Comma Butterfly

A Skipper Butterfly

A Peacock Butterfly

A freshly moulted hopper

A Horned Tree-hopper

A Hazel Leaf-rolling Weevil

A Hoverfly is the best I can do on this one...

A Marmalade Hoverfly

A Wasp Beetle

A Drinker Moth Caterpillar

Anthidium manicatum, commonly called the European Wool-carder Bee
Some information on this bee that I cribbed from the excellent BWARS website: A large and robust summer flying bee that is highly territorial in behaviour. The aggressive males often patrol and defend favoured patches of flowers with considerable vigour. Widespread across England and Wales, and extending into south western Scotland. Common in town and city gardens. Its common name derives from its habit of collecting the hairs of the leaves of various downy plants to use in making brood cells. It flies in from late May to early August.

Rhogogaster sawfly

A 2-spot Ladybird (my first locally)
And finally, a couple of unknown hoppers. Unknown to me that is:

And so I think that will be all for today's update folks; in the words of the immortal 'Pete & Dud' "Now is the time to say goodbye".

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Hans Christian Andersen comes to mind...

Since my last update (yes I know it was ages ago now) I have been lucky enough to have a number of Emperor moth caterpillars (Saturnia pavonia) to look after and observe. This spectacular moth is fairly common over much of Britain. I had a few of these once before, but managed to allow them to escape at pupation time. They wandered off into the garden somewhere, never to be seen again. 

This time around I ensured they were secure and got them through to pupation in quite large numbers. The emperor caterpillar overwinters as a pupa and should emerge in April or May the following year, although I have read they can sometimes take 2 years. I am hoping for a mixture of male and female as they are both impressive looking moths.

Not much to add and so I will just let the pictures do the talking. You will see just how much they change as they continue to moult, and how varied they can be. It is in fact the very reason caterpillars can be tricky to identify, changing with each moult as they do.

May 14th

I was convinced this one was drinking the water...

May 20th

Freshly moulted for the first time...

May 21st

Part moulted...

May 23rd 

May 25th

May 28th

May 29th

May 31st

June 5th

June 6th

June 8th

June 9th

June 10th

June 14th

Final instar and moult...

June 16th

June 18th

June 25th




Early stage cocoon.

A completed cocoon.