Thursday, 20 June 2013

Mixed weather

We're having sunny spells, showers and heavy rain in waves these days. Still, it beats the perma-rain of the last two years.

I really liked this shot of the 7-spot Ladybird. These are voracious predators of aphids, and if you look closely under the left-hand side of the leaf, you can see the antennae of its dinner.

"It's behind you"
This young Rabbit has taken up residence in the ancient Hawthorn hedge at the bottom of my garden: it seems to like being near the hens. I'm happy with all of that, but I'm rather keen that it doesn't find my vegetable plot, which is perhaps another 10m on the other side of the coop.
Young Rabbit
New to my Species Index.

Most beetles have wings which are folded away under the two elytra, which themselves are actually modified wings. The wings can be inflated at incredible speed, and you have to be very quick to catch the unfolding process taking place. I watched this Click Beetle flying from plant to plant and managed to anticipate the moment of launch:

Click Beetle preparing to fly

Leucozona lucorum is a hoverfly that is around in great numbers at the moment. They are very flighty (and will be until the mating season is over), so shots have to be taken very quickly:

The hoverfly Leucozona lucorum

Orange Tip butterflies were very late this year - at least 4 weeks and maybe 6 weeks later than I would expect. Their season is timed to match their foodplant (Cardamine pratensis in this area), and once the eggs have been laid, the adults fade away over the next week or two and won't be seen until May next year, when the next generation hatches.
Male Orange Tip butterfly
Fortunately, I have found a few larvae feeding on the seedpods:
Orange Tip larva on Cardamine seedpods

This is a strange visitor to our area. Salad Burnet - Sanguisorba minor - is a lime-loving plant, and we are are on strongly acidic soil. A few years ago, I limed part of my vegetable plot and I think this came in with a salad mix that I sowed around the same time.

Salad Burnet - Sanguisorba minor
New to my Species Index (although I think it's a bit of a cheat).

For a few years, I have been following the fortunes of a patch of pure white Bush Vetch that I found near the high heath. Many sports don't last long, but this patch is increasing in size and seems to have no problems attracting bees to pollinate it.

White version of Bush Vetch
I have read that a few plant species with blue flowers can occasionally throw pure white sports, mainly in the West. I suppose the ultraviolet parts of the flower still work, even though it's purest white to our eyes.


The Weaver of Grass said...

All interesting stuff Stuart. That rabbit would get short shrift here - we wire round the edge of our vegetable garden to keep them out - otherwise we would have nothing left.
We do have plenty of orange tip butterflies = they are one of our most common ones at this time of the year. What would their host plant be here?

stuart dunlop said...

Orange Tips use a few different crucifers (mustards), depending on what's available locally. That's usually governed by soil type. We're on acid soil so they use Cardamine pratensis - (Lady's Smock, Cuckoo Flower & Milkmaids are some local names) - around here. Other hosts are Hedge Garlic (on limy soils) and they have been known to use Honesty and Dame's Violet (garden escapes). The female always chooses a sunny spot to lay her eggs, so shaded plants tend to be ignored.