Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Different eyes

Last week I returned to my old stamping grounds in Berkshire, England, as part of a 1750 mile round trip through Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland. It's 15 years since I lived there and I was astonished at how much had changed. Then I suddenly realised that it was me that had changed most of all: I instinctively knew that I was on alkaline soil (something I never knew before) and there was even evidence of chalk. This kind of information just wasn't apparent to me before I began to study wildlife seriously.

The plants, of course, are different to those that I find on my home acidic soil, and that leads to a completely different set of leaf-miners, since most miners are specific to a single plant or family of plants. Different plants, different insects, a 15 year gap. Everything seemed new and different.

One of the first 'new' species I saw was the leaf-mining micromoth Cameraria ohridella on Horse Chestnut:

Mines of the micromoth Cameraria ohridella on Horse Chestnut
This species has spread rapidly northwards and westwards since it arrived in the UK around 2001, and it has now been found in Belfast and Dublin. Described as new to science in 1986, it affects mainly Horse Chestnut, but can also be found in Acer species. Although the leaf damage is extensive, affected trees are not under threat, since the mines are started after the leaves have established.

The Harlequin Ladybird, however, is a serious problem: 
The Harlequin Ladybird, Harmonia axyridis 
This is larger than our native species and out-competes them when they have a common food, such as aphids. When Harmonia arrives, the local species are all but eradicated. I saw plenty of these, but no native 7-spots, 10-spots or 14-spots.

Another interesting observation: at home I have Red Campion and Red dead-nettle. Here I found White Campion:

White Campion

And White dead-nettle:

White Dead-nettle
Coincidence?

There was also evidence of garden escapes, with some Geranium species in large swathes. I found this gall on many of the leaves:

Uromyces geranii on Geranium sp.
It seems to be the fungal rust Uromyces geranii.

All of the above species are new to my species list.

I managed to sneak up on a resting Painted Lady. These are always rather tricky to photograph:

Painted Lady butterfly

Quite pleased with that picture.

I also managed to get a shot of a male Common Blue Damsel:

Common Blue Damsel
These were particularly frisky on the day.

I still have some species that I need to identify, so I'll post more as information arrives.

1 comment:

amanda peters said...

The trees at the park have Cameraria ohridella on Horse Chestnut, it dose look quite bad, but glad it is not effecting the trees, allot of the trees seem to be suffering in one way or another, perhaps I am just noticing it more than before.
Amanda