Sunday, 20 June 2010

Summer mix

The Dog Rose on my hedge has opened, making a large patch of dusky pink. Roses attract all kinds of wildlife from aphids and beetles to micromoths and butterflies, and this picture shows the presence of two other life forms:

The two aphids to the lower left are 'mummified', which tells us that minute (2.5 mm.) parasitic wasps are present. These lay a single egg inside each aphid which then slowly hardens until it forms a protective shell around the developing wasp larva:

More parasitic behaviour can be seen in this shot of the shieldbug Troilus luridus consuming a moth caterpillar that it has caught:

Troilus luridus is scarce enough, and the only two specimens I have found were three years apart and on the same Hawthorn tree.

Still more predatory behaviour is shown by the structure of the proboscis of this Empis stercorea Dance Fly, which is used to suck nourishment from captured prey:

Spotted Orchids (Dactylorhiza sp. - I'm now refusing to identify these to species until someone admits they've got it wrong and says they're just variants of one or two species) have started to flower, and I think these earliest stages of development are the most attractive:

This one is paired with Common Sedge - Carex nigra:
This paper from 2004 puts it very nicely, allocating the various 'species' of Dactylorhiza into related 'groups'. Clearly much work has yet to be done in this area.

Moths continue to come to light. This is one of the few 'Minors' that can be satisfactorily identified without dissection: Middle-barred minor - Oligia fasciuncula - which is recognised by the dark 'box' with a thin white front border and a wider white rear border in the middle of the wing:

And two micromoths. Firstly Catoptria margaritella, which is thought to feed on mosses and then Cotton Grass:

And a rather worn specimen of Chrysoteuchia culmella, a grass feeder:


The Weaver of Grass said...

All I can say Stuart is that you are a man who walks around with his eyes wide open. Well spotted on that rosa canina - my favourite flower, by the way, particularly when it is deep pink.

Stuart said...

I certainly see a lot when I'm out, but I always wonder what I've missed.

I took pupils from two schools out on a trip last week. They were amazed at what they saw in just a short while. One school got 58 species in 45 minutes, the other got 69. Their eyes are much sharper than mine are now, and they were delighted to find tiny micromoths and leaf miners.