Monday, 5 September 2011

New Science

Salmonberry - Rubus spectabilis - is a highly invasive member of the Bramble family - originating in western North America - that was originally brought into Northern Ireland as cover for game birds. I saw my first specimens about 5 years ago in a couple of places, but now it's appearing almost anywhere I look in higher locations. The flower is a bright purple, and the berry is a salmon-pink colour (and is incredibly bitter, as I found out to my cost).

I examined a few plants recently and found a couple of leaf-miners:

'Agromyza ideana' on Salmonberry

'Stigmella aurella' on Salmonberry

The first specimen looks very much like Agromyza ideana, which is usually found on Raspberry, and the second looks like Stigmella aurella, which is found on Bramble. The current literature for miners in Ireland and Britain doesn't contain any records of these miners on Salmonberry, so these relationships are both new to science. (The European literature also has no entries for Stigmella aurella on Salmonberry, so that would likely be new to European science). Both mines are well-developed, indicating that these species will be successful in this new host. I'll have to write this up for the appropriate journals once the identifications have been confirmed by the appropriate experts.

Staying with mines, I checked a stand of Bracken where I had previously found my only specimen of the leafmining fly Chirosia histricina and I found it once again:

Chirosia histricina on Bracken

Underside of Chirosia histricina
Given the amount of Bracken that doesn't have this miner, it seems to have very specific microclimate requirements. The literature says 'shady places', and this is under Ash on a north-facing bank, which would certainly qualify as a shady location.

I was actually on a fungus hunt, but I didn't find much of interest in that respect. I did, however, spot a few specimens of the excellent bumblebee-mimicking hoverfly Arctophila superbiens:

Bumblebee-mimicking hoverfly Arctophila superbiens

I had only ever seen this species once before, in a location some 40 km away, so I was delighted to find it on my local patch. Identification is mainly from the very dark wing shade, the all-black legs and the orange hair on the thorax, whilst the abdominal hair is grey.

I coincidentally spotted the bumblebee which the hoverfly is mimicking - Bombus pascuorum - which is still around, but in decreasing numbers as autumn creeps in:

Bombus pascuorum on Devilsbit Scabious
The mimicry is very well-developed here, right down to the grey patches at the base of the wings.

I also liked this shot of the female Cranefly, showing those incredibly long legs:

Female Cranefly

Eyebright is showing all along the centre of paths now:

Eyebright is broken down into a number of species/subspecies. I'm sticking with Eyebright.

A couple of moths came to light on the one night we've had without rain:

Lesser Yellow Underwing

I caught this one at just the right angle to reflect the flash in its eye:
Flounced Rustic

1 comment:

Gill said...

Fascinating, especially the salmonberry miners.

That's a lovely hoverfly, one that I haven't seen. Given its otherwise almost perfect mimicry of the carder bee one wonders why it has those very obvious dark wing shades!

"I'm sticking with Eyebright." Very wise. That's a fine shot, eyebright is a difficult plant to photograph. It's beautiful close up isn't it?

"I caught this one at just the right angle to reflect the flash in its eye:" Wonderful shot. And what a name - although I confess a little brown moth is not the first thing that comes to mind when I hear "flounced rustic"!