Monday, 19 September 2011

Post hurricane post

The weather continues to be hateful, but I'm guessing that everyone has been in much the same position.

I went up to the boggy area which has many specimens of the late nectar source, Devilsbit Scabious, and found this specimen of the hoverfly Sericomyia silentis. For those of you who know the size of the flowerhead, it will be apparent just how large this hoverfly is.

Sericomyia silentis on Devilsbit Scabious
Devilsbit is a plant that loves damp, acidic soil, in complete contrast with its close relative, Field Scabious, which needs alkaline soil. Interestingly enough, I sometimes find an occasional specimen of Devilsbit Scabious which has the same colouring as the lime lover:

Pink form of Devilsbit Scabious

It's still 100% Devilsbit, though.

Staying with Devilsbit, I found a few rather interesting specimens that were making an extra flowerhead from an existing one:

Devilsbit Scabious with 'extra' flowerheads

Notice the second 'offshot' appearing to the lower left of the central flower. This phenomenon wasn't restricted to one area of the bog: I found multiple specimens spread over perhaps 200 m.

Some specimens of Angelica have survived the storms: these are mostly ones in very sheltered locations. Specimens out in the open have all snapped at ground level. This flowerhead had a number of Ichneumonids still nectaring on it. There are 3 in this shot:

Actually, I just spotted a fourth, right at the bottom of the shot.

This area has quite a few Scots Pines, and I found a few specimens of Suillus flavidus and its bigger brother Slippery Jack, which are always found in association with Pine. I also found the usual swarm of Hebeloma mesophaeum all the way along the edge of the access road:

Hebeloma mesophaeum 
The mosses are Pleurozium schreberi (red veins) and Rhytidiadelphus squarrosus (green 'stars' at 4, 6 and 8 o'clock).

I recently showed a specimen of the leafhopper Cixius nervosus, but I thought this one showed off those wonderful wing veins at their best.

Leafhopper Cixius nervosus
Leaf hoppers - like so many other true bugs - are quite difficult to separate, but the main identification features are visible in this shot.

1) There are 3 'keels' on the thorax.
2) The black dots on the wing edges are larger than those on the inside veins of the wing
3) There is a rather distinct black bar across the front third of the wings.
4) The area between the eyes and the thorax is brownish-yellow.

Let's hope next week's fungal foray isn't rained off.


Gill said...

Aren't those wing veins in the leaf hopper incredible - and incredibly beautiful? One wonders why - is it to attract a mate?

As for the "budding" devilsbit, it is an interesting sport - I must search for something similar! Any idea why? Has the area been sprayed I wonder - that can often induce odd forms.

Stuart said...

Gill: There are a few similar species of leafhopper, so perhaps the wing pattern is a clue to identity.

The area certainly hasn't been sprayed in the last 5 years at least. I remember finding a viviparous Self-heal close to this location a few years ago. It's a strange area on the approach to clear-felled Spruce, containing an odd mixture of young Pine, Willow and Larch on boggy mosses. The same location contains a number of species of fungi which were recorded here in Ireland for the first time.