Sunday, 24 August 2014

Dead Tree

If you want to get me excited give me a dead or moribund tree,  it's beetle heaven.  A rare photograph of a grey haired man inspecting a flight interception trap placed by an old dead Oak in pasture woodland Bredon Hill Worcestershire.  Highlight of this trap was the beetle Prionychus ater and a couple of cuckoo-wasps Chrysis angustula.  These traps if positioned correctly spring a few nice surprises often beetles you wouldn't find by normal collecting methods. Didn't quite realise my hair was so thin until I saw this photograph. 
Inspecting a flight interception trap placed by a fissure in an old dead Oak tree. 

A Sawfly pretending to be a Bat.

Pine Sawfly - Sherwood Pines, August 2014.  (Size approximately 6mm)
A recent find up at Sherwood Pines Centre Parcs was this beautiful looking Sawfly.  Yet again I have my son to thank who was out out on an EMEC ecological survey of their ponds.  However, he found this little beast lying dead on a car bonnet.  Into a pot and home for me to stick a pin through and take a look at a later date. It turns out to be a male of the Pine Sawfly of genus Diprion,  its ethier Diprion pini or the very similar D.similis. Trying to key these little suckers to species level is in my mind really difficult given the complexity of the RES handbooks on this subject.   Neither species are encountered all that frequently NBN gateway gives only a handful of records for both species, which is surprising given the number of pine plantations there are scattered around the country.  I can't help it but it reminds me of a long eared Bat. What do you think?

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Three Crickets in a Day.

A recent trip to Bredon Hill Worcestershire with my son, who was assessing the invertebrates found in and around different compartments of the hillside provided a good couple of days insect watching.  Highlight for me was 3 species of cricket in one day,  Speckled Bush,  Dark and Roesel's.   Speckled bush was not very obliging for the camera, it wouldn't sit still but the other two were game for a picture. Quite an impressive collection of insects and getting a little commoner in these days of slightly warmer summers.  Can't ever remember seeing these as a lad in the sixties and seventies.  Iv'e even seen them in Nottinghamshire this year,  my son capturing a speckled bush cricket on Sneinton Market right in the middle of urban sprawl.    
Speckled Bush Cricket, Bredon Hill,  7th August 2014 

Roesel's Bush Cricket Bredon Hill Worcestershire 7th August 2014 

Dark Bush Cricket, Bredon Hill Worcestershire, 7th August 2014 

Monday, 11 August 2014

Is this the most Striking Caterpillar in the UK?

Apparently the Sycamore moth is quite common in the UK.  However until last week I had never seen this caterpillar before.  Didn't quite look like it should be wandering across a road in Worcestershire. 

Sycamore Moth Caterpillar 

Friday, 1 August 2014

The allure of Fennel

If you like your insects then Fennel is most definitely the plant to grow.  I have a couple of plants in my small garden and both have reached about 8ft in height this year.   Not a problem until you want to photograph what's attracted to them, you end up pointing your camera to the sky, which in my opinion leads to awkward harsh light and a not too pleasing effect. Still I show a couple of real gems that have alighted this summer, a hornet, Vespa crabro, and the wasp/hornet mimic hoverfly Volucella inanis. I also get the whopping beast Volucella zonaria, in my opinion one of the UK's most spectacular flies.  Pictures aren't up to much bit a couple of insects on the northern edge of their british distribution ain't too bad. 

Hornet - Carlton Nottinghamshire, 01/08/2014
Big Hover', Volucella inanis. Carlton Notts 01/08/2014