Sunday, 18 November 2012

Final Dragonfly?

Will this be my final dragonfly of the year? A Common Darter on a fence near Putnoe Wood today.

Dock Bug

Just the one bug seen this afternoon, a Dock bug, Coreus marginatus, on a bramble leaf near Putnoe Wood.

Male social wasp

A wander off-piste into leaf litter near Putnoe Wood today was rewarded with finding a male social wasp basking in the warm sunshine. It was certainly a male because it had 7 segments on the gaster and 13 segments in the antennae, but I now have cold feet abour my original ID of Dolichovespula media. I'm not convinced that the gap between the mandible and eye is large enough for Dolichovesula, and can't see a pronotal ridge, so I'm now leaning towards a Vespula sp., possibly V.vulgaris? Can anyone help with a certain ID please?

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Duckweed and lichen

Yes, I know they don't have six legs, but what the heck!

Hoverfly larva?

What I assume to be a hoverfly larva on a nettle leaf at Priory CP, presumably looking for its next aphid...

Spindle Seeds

There is something oddly un-English about spindle pods and seeds in the autumn countryside. They look too oriental to me! Now at their best.

Omnivorous Cricket

I'd always assumed that bush-crickets were herbivores, but after looking at this picture of a Dark Bush-cricket once I'd got home from Priory CP today, I realised that it was eating a snail. A bit of googling confirmed that they are actually omnivores. Learned something new today (but will probably forget it again fairly soon...)

Here's a couple of un-chewed snails. There were plenty of small ones on nettles.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Potter around Willington

A pleasant potter in Willington this afternoon revealed more than I'd hoped:

Quite a few Common Darters still around. Here's a female and male waiting on the old station  platform:

One Common Alder tree had several Speckled Bush-crickets basking in the warm sunshine. Here's a female taking a dump (sorry) and a male:

Fresh robin's pin cushions, also known as bedeguar galls, on dog rose caused by the gall wasp Diplolepis rosae

A rather tatty female Migrant Hawker taking a rest:

 Quite a few of these Heteroptera which I presume to be Pantilius tunicatus on Common Alder:

 An Angle Shades moth sitting out the day at the side of the cycle track:

 A couple of very small beetles, presumably Chrysomelidae. Sorry, I forget what plant they were on.

 Oh, and another Comma. You can't, have, too, many, Commas. (Well, maybe you can):

Sucking on a Woodlouse

Can't say that I've ever seen a spider feeding on a woodlouse before, so in case you haven't either, or want to see another, here's a snap from last night in my garden. Afraid that I can't tell you the species of either.

They average 11 legs each, so not sure what they are doing on "six legs"...!

Saturday, 22 September 2012

What's this 'ere?

How well do you know insect anatomy? You should be able to identify the type of insect, if not the exact species, from this picture.

Click to see the full image and try to spot the feature in situ. What is it? The clue is in the title.

Liocoris tripustulatus

The dying tansy flowers in my back garden still hold some interest with what I suspect to be Liocoris tripustulatus taking fluids (not sure if nectar or sap). This common species probably developed on the nettles alongside. The excellent website is great for ID'ing bugs like these.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Speckled Bush-cricket

A semi-translucent male Speckled Bush-cricket, not so much back-lit as through-lit, at Mowsbury Hill this afternoon.

Comma imago

This blog's recent Comma theme continues, with an adult at Mowsbury Hill this afternoon. Note that like other Nymphalidae butterflies it appears to have only four legs, when, as we all know, insects have six. In this family the front pair have reduced to shortened "brushes" tucked up against the body. (These are the two dark stripes below the eyes in this picture). Some therefore refer to this family as the "brush-footed" butterflies.

Comma pupa

A twitching on my back-garden tansy suggested an invertebrate climbing around so I expected to find something like a cricket in the foliage. After a few moments of finding nothing my eyes fell on this Comma pupa, which then obligingly wriggled. Butterfly pupa often do this during their transformation, putting me in mind of a escapologist shaking off a straitjacket.

This tansy was adjacent to the nettles featured in other blog postings of a Comma egg and larva, but this pupa is so much later that it must be of a different individual.

P.S. This hatched on 9th October when I was volunteering at Flitwick Moor, so I missed it and have no pictures to show you either!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Just say what you see...

...I can't give you a bigger clue. On my buddleia.

Update: For anyone that is stuck and wants to see the full image, click HERE

Hawthorn Shieldbug

Whilst picking the apple off my tree (it's a poor crop this year) found a Hawthorn Shieldbug (Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale) sap sucking, building up reserves for overwintering as an adult.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Wasp Spider Progress

I've been away for a few days so was interested to see how the Wasp Spiders at SSNR were progressing.

Wind-blown seeds were clearly becoming a nusiance requiring housekeeping. This spider shortly after I took this became so buffeted by the wind that she surprised me by walking off the web, down a thistle, across the ground a few inches and up onto another more sheltered web - she had a spare one next door!!

A few egg sacs are now beginning to appear, surprisingly large.

The reserve's grasshopper and cricket population must be suffering in order to fuel their growth. This spider is feeding on a grasshopper (possibly a Lesser Marsh) and has a female Long-winged Conehead hanging on a thread for dessert, gruesomely very much still alive!

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Buddleia beauties

14 Small Tortoiseshells, 8 Red Admirals, 2 Commas, 4 Peacocks, 1 Painted Lady, 1f Brimstone on buddleia on Meadow Lane, east of Priory CP. Here's just a couple of these species to enjoy...

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Dangerous Liaison

What is going on here between these two spiders, possibly Araneus quadratus, at Sandy Smith NR? There's a good explanation in Wikipedia HERE.

This is a compilation from several failed advances over a few minutes. After he was finally successful, the male instantly dropped into the grass below to avoid being eaten and the female returned to tending her web.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Wasp Spider

A large female Wasp Spider Argiope bruennichi at Sandy Smith NR, with the unusual zig-zag stabilimentum woven into the web below. An entrussed prey is at her side. Thanks to Sue and Liz for alerting us to their presence.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Painted Lady

Came home from looking for interesting wildlife in the north of the county to find my first Painted Lady of the year waiting for me in my own garden...!

Roesel's bush-cricket

Sadly my ears have aged to the point that I can no longer hear the wonderful electrical crackling sound made by male Roesel's bush-crickets rubbing their wings together. All I could hear of this one was a bit of a rattle when I got about two feet away. Enjoy it while you can!

Stictoleptura scutellata

Several of these longhorn beetles were flying around meadowsweet along the bridleway through West Wood today. I knew that I'd not seen them before and tried to ID them in the field using Brian Eversham's key to the Beds, Northants and Cambs longhorns that I carry in case of emergencey [sic]. It came out as Stictoleptura rubra which I knew to be wrong as I'm familiar with that species.

Reference to the two 2007 British Widlife articles on longhorns by Andrew Duff when I got home suggested an ID of Stictoleptura scutellata which was confirmed by Andrew himself when I posted photos on the beetles-britishisles forum.

I'm not aware of any previous Beds records for this species, but someone may have seen it here before...? There aren't any Beds dots on the NBN Gateway, and it would be the most northerly record if there wasn't one for Sherwood Forest in 1869.

The key will need a tweak to add in this extra BCN species.

Brimstone Colouring

Shoot enough pics of Brimstones flitting between flowers and you will eventually get some upper-surface shots, not normally seen because they always settle with wings closed. Here's a study on their colouring:

Male. The upper forewing is more deeply coloured than the rear.


In reflected light female (left) and male (right) appear rather similar.

Males appear a deeper yellow when the light is transmitted through those two upper layers:

Females appear more green in transmitted light.

All shot in West Wood today.