Scaeva pyrastri is thought to be a migrant hoverfly - at least for the first generation - in Ireland, but I suspect that as we get warmer, then it might well join the growing list of insects that have become winter-resident, like the Red Admiral butterfly, for example. I was just saying the other day that when I was younger, books seemed to have facts in them, nowadays they seem to contain mere guidelines, because so much is changing so quickly.
I spotted this female Scaeva pyrastri hoverfly as she examined each flower stem and seedhead for aphids:
|Female Scaeva pyrastri hoverfly ovipositing|
Every so often she would stop and lay an egg in amongst any aphids she spotted.
I checked one batch of aphids after she had moved on, and sure enough, I could see the egg - apparently directly on top of an aphid - arrowed in this shot:
|Scaeva pyrastri egg (arrowed)|
Male hoverflies are known to hover for a variety of reasons, such as protecting territory or showing off their skills to attract a mate, but this female was hovering very accurately as she minutely examined the flower stems and seedheads from around 10mm away. The Small Heath butterfly is very particular about its habitat: it likes heathy areas with shorter grass, but I'm sure it has some other requirement that we don't know about, because many apparently suitable habitats are ignored by them. I had always thought that one particular area on my patch was suitable, but it was only after 8 years of searching that I found a single specimen there last year. A couple of sightings at the same location this year - including the one in the shot - suggests that a colony has now been established:
|Small Heath butterfly|
It's a lovely little butterfly, and a welcome addition to my local list.
Syritta pipiens is readily recognised by the inflated thighs on the rear legs:
|The hoverfly Syritta pipiens, female|
A few moths have been brave enough to beat the rain, although reports of populations are far lower than normal, sometimes as low as 10% of the expected numbers. The Hawkmoths are our most stunning moths, and I was fortunate that this Poplar Hawkmoth came to light:
These are as large as smaller bats, and on a 17" screen at 1024 x 768, that picture isn't much larger than life size. The Poplar Hawkmoth larva usually feeds on Poplar, but hereabouts it will be Willow. Notice that the wings of this species at rest are held in a very unusual configuration, with the rear wings ahead of the front wings.
The Common White Wave is a handsome little moth:
|Common White Wave moth|
This species is distinguished from the Common Wave by the almost-straight rear grey lines on the forewing.
This weevil caused me a bit of pain during the identification process. Most web references say that it is associated with Dog's Mercury, which doesn't grow around here. It keyed quite quickly to Barynotus moerens, but with all the web references stating that it was associated with a single plant, I retried the identification several times to see where I had gone wrong.
|The weevil Barynotus moerens|
After much angst, I found that it is also associated with Ground Ivy, which we have in abundance around the patch. I think many websites (and some reference books) just copy what they read elsewhere without examining the facts.
New to my species list.