Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Wildlife on earth

I can't help but notice that NASA are now looking for wildlife on Mars. I'll stick to my Donegal Hedgerow for now.

The weather has been dull with frequent heavy showers for a few days, but today we had blue bits in the sky and everything suddenly went crazy. At one point I had three species of butterfly in view, including three Small Tortoiseshells nectaring on the much-maligned Ragwort:

Small Tortoiseshell on Ragwort

These specimens were very fresh and will be the offspring of the overwintering generation that emerged in March this year.

I also saw my first specimen of Meadow Brown for the year, although it's fairly obvious that this specimen has been around for a few days:

Meadow Brown and Herb Robert
I cropped that shot to include a Herb Robert flower because it is such an important part of this hedgerow, flowering all year round.

Evacanthus interruptus is a very easily recognised leafhopper:

Evacanthus interruptus
It's never very numerous, and there are some years when I don't see it at all.

Plant galls are made when an insect (or fungus) modifies a plant's growth patterns for its own benefit. These are the galls of Eriophyes inangulis on Alder:

Leaf galls of Eriophyes inangulis on Alder
Notice that the galls are positioned precisely on the intersection of midrib and side vein. New to my species list.

On a nearby Alder, all the galls were of the closely-related Eriophyes laevis, which is the species I find much more often:

Eriophyes laevis on Alder
In this species the galls are randomly positioned, and are clearly different in structure from the previous species.

There are two distinct forms of the Riband Wave moth. All of my local specimens are of the form f.remutata, where the darker central wing band is missing. This form seems to be the norm in more northern areas.

Riband Wave moth

The Devilsbit Scabious is just starting to flower, which tells me that the season is well advanced. Many of the leaves are marked with the parasitic fungus Ramularia succisae:

Ramularia succisae on Devilsbit Scabious

The hedgerows of western Ireland are bright red at the moment with the wild (but introduced) Fuchsia species Fuchsia magellanica. On very rare occasions we find the absolutely beautiful pale variety, Fuchsia magellanica var. Alba:

Fuchsia magellanica var. Alba
I took some cuttings earlier this year, and they have just started to flower. Absolutely gorgeous.


Toffeeapple said...

Another very interesting and informative post, thank you. The Fuchsia is lovely; I am amazed that it grows wild I can never keep one for very long.

stuart dunlop said...

Fuchsia magellanica is native to Chile and Argentina. It is frost hardy and dies back to ground level in hard winters. I'm just off to get some shots of the hedges made from it.