Saturday, 14 July 2012

A little heat

When it rains, flying insects - quite understandably - keep a very low profile, and once the rain stops it takes a couple of days for them to emerge in any great numbers. After a couple of dry days, though, it seems that we have had a fresh start and everything is out again.

True Crane Flies are recognisable by their very long legs:

Crane fly Tipula fascipennis (female)
The larvae of Craneflies are the 'leatherjackets' that eat the roots of grasses, and can remain underground for over a year.

There are many species of Cranefly, and distributions are generally governed by availability of the favoured foodplant. The specimen above has a very distinctive white flash that extends to both edges of the wing, leading us to Tipula fascipennis. New to my species list.

Sexton Beetles are the great recyclers: they search out decomposing animal bodies and partially bury them by excavating beneath them. Their larvae then feed on the decomposing flesh, leaving the remnants of the buried corpse to return to the soil.

The Sexton Beetle Nicrophorus investigator

Speckled Wood butterflies are usually the first spring-emerging species that I see in any particular year, and the first generation lasts perhaps 6 weeks. Then, after a gap, their offspring emerge as a second generation:
Second generation Speckled Wood butterfly
If conditions are favourable, a third generation may appear around September.

I happened to notice today that Foxglove flowers are hairy inside:

Foxglove flowers

I can't really work out a reason for this (the just-visible orange reproductive parts are on the upper side of the tube). There would be no point in scraping pollen off onto the floor of the tube, so maybe it's just a doormat. (Late thought: the only insects that can successfully pollinate Foxgloves are those large enough to gather and transport pollen on their backs:  Bumblebees are an obvious candidate. So perhaps the hairs prevent smaller insects from stealing pollen without delivering any in return.)

Continuing my short series of grass images, this is False Oat-grass:

Flowers of False Oat-grass
Grasses do bear some serious examination: some of them are truly beautiful.

Dry nights usually mean a decent set of moths attracted to my lights at the front door. The newer energy-saving bulbs seem to attract more moths than the old tungsten filament bulbs, so it's a win-win set up.

This is the Clouded Border, which is one of the moths that looks most like a butterfly.

Clouded Border moth
The Flame Carpet has a bright orange-red central band on the wing which fades very quickly, especially if there has been any rain:
Flame Carpet moth
The Snout can be readily identified by the long mouthparts:
Snout moth
The Mottled Beauty can be separated from similar moths by the sickle-shaped leading part of the dark wing band:
Mottled Beauty
This next specimen caused me a bit of a problem - the markings look like scribbles - but it turns out to be a rather worn Double Dart, and is new to my Species list.
Double Dart moth

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