Monday, 30 August 2010

Where to start?

At the beginning, I suppose.

(Keep your eyes peeled for hidden insects....I'll be asking questions at the end.)

Earlier on, I was over on Weaver's blog identifying a pincushion gall, and this is the first shot I took this morning:
It's a gall caused by the plant louse Livia juncorum on Juncus rushes. Galls are abnormal growths caused by insects or fungi for their own benefit: usually food and/or shelter. Other insects know about these benefits and some galls attract lodgers (inquilines) and, of course, predators and parasites. The record number of species found inside a single Oak Apple gall was over 50!

The Marigolds at our front window attract plenty of hoverflies and this sunny morning saw the wonderful Eupeodes luniger:

I also saw Leucozona glaucia on the last of the Angelica:

This all-black hoverfly made my heart flutter a bit, but after a lot of analysis (finally concluded by detailed examination of the wing veins) I determined it was just a very dark Eristalis tenax:

This more usual version was conveniently to hand so that I could show the comparison:

As some of you will know, I've been carrying out a study of sawfly larvae on willows for the past few years, and I thought I would check to see if any Nematus pavidus sawfly larvae were in evidence. Just as well I did, because this lot hatched yesterday:
So this is officially DAY 2. I'll be tracking these larvae and their parasites for the next month or so. They're a bit earlier than usual, so it will be very interesting to see if the parasites are correspondingly early.

This is the next batch ready to go:

It's amazing what catches your eye, even from a distance. This is the larva of one of the Pug moths:
These are very difficult to identify as larvae and the best way of finding out what they are is to breed them through and then identify the adults (which, unfortunately, is also difficult with Pugs!)

On the same Willow as the Nematus pavidus larvae, I found this Baetid Mayfly. I have no idea why it has emerged so late in the year:

Ok.......hands up who spotted the Frog Hopper in the centre of the Livia juncorum. (easy)

And who spotted the bright orange Tephritid fly larva at the bottom right corner (very carefully cropped) of the image of the Pug moth caterpillar? (difficult)


The Weaver of Grass said...

I'll tell you what Stuart, these tiny creatures are a darn sight easier to spot on your blog than they are in real life. Thanks for solving the pincushion query.

Stuart said...

I seem to have a built-in 'radar' for detecting things. Quite often, I'll be walking along a hedgerow or verge and something tells me that I should go back and take another look at a leaf or stem. I almost always find something interesting when I do. I suppose it's a matter of knowing what something should look like and then being able to spot the tiny difference when it doesn't look quite right. I'm also aware of a host of things that might appear, so I'm also alert to those. There's a great deal happening out there every day, and the exciting thing is that it's happening right under our noses.