Monday, 13 August 2012

Sunny August

In this shot I tried to show the extensive Fuchsia hedging that paints much of western Ireland red at the moment, but the very bright sunshine made a decent shot very tricky.

Fuchsia hedging at Mongorrey

Note the very straight road stretching all the way westwards to the horizon. I had always thought that these long straight roads must be Roman roads, but the Romans never got this far, and the roads are known as 'Famine roads'.

The white umbellifer plants at the front of the shot are Angelica.

Many of the wasps that can be seen slowly crawling over umbellifers at the moment are males:

Male Vespula rufa
Vespula rufa can be identified by a combination of features including the red areas on the abdomen, facial markings and stripes on the thorax.

This Chloromyia formosa soldier fly was happily nectaring on the Angelica......

Chloromyia formosa soldier fly
until a Tenthredo sp. sawfly decided it would make a good meal and jumped on it:

Chloromyia formosa escaping from a Tenthredo sp. sawfly
Even at 1/120th of a second, the fly is just a blur.

It's not only the flowers of Angelica that attract insects: leaf-miners are also present. Phytomyza angelicastri is one of two species that I find locally:

Phytomyza angelicastri on Angelica

The Hawthorn parasite Taphrina crataegi clearly has some special habitat requirements. This is the only tree that I have found to be infected on my patch:
Taphrina crataegi on Hawthorn

I have also found it in one location in Northern Ireland, and in each case the tree overhangs lying water, but I know of many Hawthorns in similar situations that are unaffected, so it must be something more subtle.

As I was searching along a verge, a shadow passed over me and I looked up expecting to see a bird, but it turned out to be a huge Common Hawker dragonfly which was hunting along the same verge. I followed it for a while and it eventually rested on a Willow, so I managed to squeeze in a few distant shots:

Common Hawker dragonfly
And nearby I saw a Common Darter landing on a grass stem. She tolerated me for quite a while before flying off:

Common Darter dragonfly (female)
Slender St. John's Wort is my favourite flower, so I made an artistic crop of this pair:
Slender St. John's Wort


Gill said...

Fantastic shots. How do you know the wasp is a male? Very impressed at how close you get to them!
That hypericum is lovely.

stuart dunlop said...

Gill, male social wasps have 13 segments to the antennae, which are often held in a 'droopy' fashion. Workers have 12. There are 7 abdominal tergites as opposed to 6 in the worker. This makes the male abdomen appear much longer and thinner. Finally behaviour: workers might take a very quick nectar snack, but these chaps graze for hours. I also used to be impressed at how close I got to these until I discovered the males have no sting!

damselfly said...

Wow. very good to know that males don't have stinger.