Friday, 9 July 2010

And still they come

I was walking along the hedgerow and suddenly got an irresistible urge to look at the underside of some Lady Fern. I spotted some dark objects at the limit of my unaided vision and fired off a few shots. The result? Two new species and some serious eye-strain.

The two mirid bugs (collectively called Fern bugs) that follow both feed on the spores and sporangia of ferns. First is Monalocoris filicis, about 2-3 mm. long:

(Note the 'missing' sporangia on the above frond.)

And the second is Bryocoris pteridis:

As a bonus, I found that I had incidentally photographed the nymph of Monalocoris filicis on the same frond as the Bryocoris:

The main identifying feature between the two mirids is the length of the first antennal segment, which is less than the width of the head in the Monalocoris and as wide as the head in the Bryocoris. Head colour is also different.

I'm not sure what the precise habitat requirement is for Eyebright, but I only ever find it on woodland paths:
The flower is very much like an orchid, with very clear nectar guides and carefully-positioned pollinia. When you consider that bees and flies see in the UV spectrum, those guides must be like large flashing neon signs...."Come and dine here!".

Some of the Phyllonorycter micromoths have taken leaf-mining to a new level: they mine out a section of leaf and then make creases in its lower surface. As the leaf continues to grow and the creases deepen, the upper surface of the leaf buckles upwards, making a fine tent for the larva to feed and develop inside. This enables it to reach a larger size than would be possible if the space was limited by the thickness of the leaf. The following shot shows the underside of an early mine of Phyllonorycter maestingella on Beech:

Two moths which illustrate one of the difficulties of moth identification came to light: first Udea olivalis, which feeds on bushes and shrubs and is a micromoth:

And Small Fan Foot, which is a macromoth:
These moths are roughly the same size (about 15 mm. long), but they are found in different reference manuals. So unless you know which group they belong to, you don't know which book to consult. But if you can't identify them, then you need to look them up.....

1 comment:

Yoke, said...

Thanks for telling us about those Fern Bugs and the smart Leaf mining tactics.

I always have problems with IDs for micro moths. (and many other ones too, lol.)

The eyebright is wonderful, and yes those guides must flash just as bright as the blue cap of the Blue Tit.