Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Good Weather

We're currently in the best spell of weather that I can remember since moving to Ireland 12 years ago. It's already an early year in many places and it's difficult to keep up with the backlog of images that I'm taking. Nice complaint to have...

I'll start off with a picture of what has to be my favourite bee - Andrena cineraria. Andrenas are all solitary bees, digging their own little tunnels, laying the eggs and collecting pollen to feed the growing larvae. Andrenas are generally quite difficult to identify, but Andrena cineraria is very distinctive with its grey shoulder stripe. She looks rather like a thin bumblebee worker:

The mining bee Andrena cineraria

I haven't seen any female Orange Tip butterflies yet, but they're obviously around. This single egg was laid today behind the flower where the seedpod will form:

Egg of Orange Tip butterfly

The egg is clearly very fresh (it's green), but it will be orange by tomorrow.

I got a nice side-shot of the very common Melanostoma scalare hoverfly:

Male Melanostoma scalare hoverfly 
These are by far the most numerous hoverfly at this time of year. Later on in the year, the females fall prey to the parasitic fungus Entomophthora muscae in very large numbers.

Moths are continuously coming to light at night, and I spotted this little (1 cm.) moth:

Moths of that size are usually micromoths, but this is one of the macromoths that confuses all newcomers to moth identification. It's the Least Black Arches - Nola confusalis, which feeds on a number of woody shrubs. Judging by the specific name, I rather suspect the people who originally named it were a bit confused, too.

Something to look out for:

Entry holes of Cocksfoot moth larvae in Cocksfoot grass
The Cocksfoot moth is very numerous around verges with Cocksfoot grass, and will shortly be seen flitting around like glittering dust. If you look at stems of last year's grass and peel back the top leafblade you might well find these holes indicating where the pupa has overwintered. These minute moths are well worth looking for: their metallic slate-grey background with white feathering is very beautiful.

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