Sunday, 30 August 2015

Cynthia and Erica

Picture says it all, Budby Heath Nottinghamshire, Cynthia cardui on Heather, Also photographs of Peacocks and Small Tortoiseshell feeding on the heather as well.  Should have got Vanessa (Red admiral) as well but they were playing hard to get.  I think the colour of the heather really sets these butterflies of well.  Apologies for lack of blogs, been rather busy visiting lots of beautifual sites around the country but have had little time to take photographs which has been a real shame as I have seen some wonderful insects.
Painted Lady, Budby Heath , 30th August 2015

Peacock, Budby Heath, Nottinghamshire, 30th August 2015 

Painted Lady, Budby 30th August 2015 

mall Tortoiseshell, Budby Heath Nottinghamshire, 30th August 2015 

Sunday, 19 July 2015

New one for the garden. Speckled Bush Cricket.

These chaps seem a lot commoner than they were several years ago, particularly here in Nottinghamshire.  Therefore a nice surprise when picking a few gooseberries.  

Speckled Bush Cricket,  Leptophyes punctatissima. Carlton Nottinghamshire July 2015

Friday, 17 July 2015

A Sharp-tailed Bee, but which one?

I have a regular visitor to my nesting leaf-cutter bees at present, a sharp tailed bee genus Coelioxys.  I think its either C. inermis or C. elongata.  I'm afraid without killing it I'm not in a position to confirm the I'd.  However a lovely bee and even though it has the job of a cleptoparasite of the leaf-cutters is a welcome and uncommon site here in Nottinghamshire.  Any hymenopteran experts reading this, if you can identify from the photographs then please let me know. 

Sunday, 5 July 2015


A recent trip to the East Coast got me photographing pyramidal Orchids and not surprisingly Pyramidal Orchids with attendent Six Spot Burnet Moths.  I've always considered it just coincidence that you often get both together,  both the burnet moths food plant, birds foot trefoil and the orchids live in similar habitats and the moths merely make use of the orchids as a nectar source. However if you take a close look at the photograph on the left you can see that the tongue of the moth has several appendages attached. These are the pollinia of the pyramidal orchid. Pollinia are one mass of pollen grains that are the product of only one anther. They are transferred during pollination as a single unit. So this is what the moth is inadvertently doing getting the pollinia stuck to its tongue and transferring the whole mass to a new flower. Pretty impressive I think. 

Pyramidal Orchid, Lincolnshire July 2015 

Common Spotted Orchid, Lincolnshire July 2015 

Pyramidal Orchid, Lincolnshire July 2015 

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Probably one of the most gruesome ways for a beetle to die.

I've spent a couple of days doing a bit of survey work on one of the Border Mires in North West Northumberland,  trapping beetles, bugs, flies and spiders.  A pretty good couple of days with a good smattering of beetles new to me, including the beautiful Carabus nitens and Agonum ericeti.  However there are plenty of pictures of these lads for you to peruse on the web, so this little blog is about something a hell of a lot more sinister.  In amongst the trapped collection of Pterostichus nigrita/rhaeticus ws this rather interesting find, a Gordian Worm or Horse Hair worm as they are now more commonly known.  These are exclusively invertebrate parasites. Their larvae enter the host and develop reaching several centimetres in length.  The beetle in this picture is about 10 mm, so it gives you a little idea of the length of the parasite.  The adult worms live in freshwater and hijack the nervous system of the insect in order that it might seek out a wet and watery place. The insect heads for the water, dies and the worm leaves its host.  Pretty impressive.  This one got it a little wrong drowning in a little propylene glycol pitfall trap sometime between the beginning of June and the 26th June when the traps were checked and hence did not fully have time to exit its host. 

Pterostichus with Horsehair worm.  Northumberland June 2015 

Saturday, 30 May 2015

A different Bee Fly in Lincolnshire, I'd help required

I'm quite familiar with Bombylius major, the common bee-fly of hedgerows and gardens, however on a recent trip to Chambers Farm Wood, one of lincolnshires Lime Woods I photographed a rather small Be-fly for later identification.  2 problems with the resultant photograph, one its not very sharp and 2, its wings were beating so fast I didn't stop them with a faster shutter speed, apart form that its perfect!  This bee fly was one of the small clear winged species either B. canescens or B. Minor. Stubbs and Drake (2001) British Soldierflies and their allies illustrates them all.   However B. canescens has a very westerly distribution whilst B. minor a very southerly heathland habitat.   So to cut to the chase, any help appreciated, anyone have records of any other bee-flies in Lincolnshire?  
Looks a bit like B. minor but nowhere near heathland.  

Bad year for my Bees!

Osmia leaniana - Carlton Notts 30th May 2015 
Followers of this blog are probably aware of my love of all things solitary.  I like wandering around on my own, I'm quite happy working on my own and I quite like bees on thier own.  For that reason for several years I have encouraged solitary bees to nest in the garden.  At present 3 species use the logs and boxes placed on my south facing wall, the most numerous being Osmia bocornis, the Red Mason Bee, followed by a megachild leaf cutter bee, probably M. centucularis  and the smaller congener of the mason bee Osmia leaiana.  This year my mason bees have struggled, the males got off to a good start during that warm spell in April but just as the females hatched the weather turned.  However they are pretty hardy beasts and they quickly started nesting in available holes whenever the weather permitted.  This unimpinged nesting was not to last as a nesting pair of Great Tits discovered that female mason bees are rather tasty, or at least suitable food for their chicks.  They've taken them all,   and I mean all I have several holes half sealed and only a few complete holes.  Last year approximately 150 holes were filled, this year about 20. Still it might leave a little more room for the leafcutters, the first one to hatch of the year was waitng for a bit of decent weather today as was a male O. leaiana.  Both are photographed, I hope they have more look than the others. 

Leaf cutter Bee, Carlton Notts, 30th May 2015