Saturday, 18 September 2010

Full circle

I often struggle to find a suitable title for the posts that I make, but I think you'll agree that today's title certainly applies to the first two images, but in completely different ways.

The Nematus pavidus larvae are now in their final instar (final colouration pattern) and are getting larger:

There's still no sign of the secondary parasites, which makes them a bit late in terms of the early appearance of the larvae this year. I had a think about that, however, and they don't actually have the same imperative to synchronise that the primaries do: the egg of the primary is their target and since the egg stays inert inside the larva until it is fully grown, the secondaries can wander along any time they like.

I rather liked this shot of the Tetanocera being killed by the spider:
Tetanocera are snail-killers. Full circle, indeed.

I flipped over a specimen of Cloud Agaric to confirm my identification and found this tiny Springtail:
It's Tomocerus minor and as I was keying it out I had to laugh when the key said: "This may be called 'minor', but it can reach fully 4.5 mm long"! That gives you some idea of how small Springtails usually are.

While I was looking at the Nematus larvae, I spotted this Pug Moth larva stretched out on the skeletal leaf they had left behind:
It occurs to me that it might have chosen that spot to pupate in. A quick check later will confirm.

This Angle Shades moth larva caught my eye. Camouflage seems not to work on me:

Another new moth came to light, and it's the excellent 20-plume micromoth - Alucita hexadactyla. The wings are each made up of six 'plumes':

And, just for the record, a (very!) worn Common Rustic. It's amazing that the diagnostic kidney mark is just about the only part of the wing pattern still in place:


Gill said...

Nice page! I particularly like that first shot, there's something very aesthetically pleasing about it as well as the obvious natural history focus.

Interesting red spider. As for the springtail, which way is it going? Is that a long proboscis or its tail? Another fantastic close-up - your shots are getting better all the time - you must have a very steady hand!

"Camouflage seems not to work on me" You're not a bird!

"The wings are each made up of six 'plumes'" so why isn't it called 12-plume? Lovely thing anyway - how big is it?

Stuart said...

Gill: The Springtail is moving to top right. One antenna would appear to be 'down' between the gills. (That 'down' would have been 'up' before I flipped the mushroom over.)

All my shots are taken at 1/160th to 1/200th of a second to eliminate hand-shake. Rule of thumb: exposure should be 1/(1.5 x focal length in mm) seconds to avoid handshake. A 100mm lens needs 1/150th of a second.

As you can see, the specific name is 'hexadactyla', so the binominal is correct. It's just another case of the common name being misleading. Very few micros have common names, and they got this one wrong. Wingspan is about 15mm.

Turns out the pug larva was just roosting: it was gone the next day.

Caroline Gill said...

Full circle indeed. Lovely photography, too.