It has recently been discovered that Ireland has two species of Wood White butterfly: Leptidea sinapis
, which is restricted to the Burren and nearby areas (and is the same species as that found in Great Britain) and the Cryptic Wood White - Leptidea juvernica -
which is found in the rest of Ireland, including Northern Ireland, but is absent from GB.
Resolution of the conflicting and confusing identifications and distributions was temporarily further confused by the suggestion that one of the species was Leptidea reali
, which is found in France. It seems that the situation has now been satisfactorily resolved, and it now remains to examine local populations to be sure we have the correct distributions. There is no sure way of separating the species by morphological characters, although differences have been proposed, so the only way to be sure is to sample populations and examine the genitalia.
The purpose of yesterday's visit to Craigavon was to train recorders in the identification of Cryptic Wood White (CWW) and to demonstrate a recording system for subsequent use in tracking this (and other) species.
But me being me, I didn't restrict myself to CWW, and I recorded more or less everything else we encountered.
First, though, a shot of the courtship behaviour of CWW:
|Courtship behaviour in Cryptic Wood White, Leptidea juvernica|
The male (left) usually sits higher and repeatedly swipes his antennae and proboscis over the face of the female. This courtship can take up to 30 minutes to complete. If the female accepts him, mating takes place. We saw one recently-emerged female being courted by two successive males before her wings had even fully inflated.
Gorse bushes were very fruitful, and were covered with Gorse Shieldbug:
And their eggs:
|Eggs of Gorse Shieldbug|
I also found many specimens of the minute (3 mm.) Gorse Weevil, Exapion ulicis
New to my Species List.
|Gorse Weevil, Exapion ulicis|
There were a great many Common Blue damselflies:
|Common Blue damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum)|
And a few Blue-tailed damsels:
I found a few galls of the mite Eriophyes pyri
quite early on in the walk:
|The gall mite Eriophyes pyri on Rowan.|
This appears to be the first record for NI, with one previous record from Ireland, and new to my Species List
A record shot of the Mirid bug Harpocera thoracica. The male antennae have an interesting 'structure'.
|Mirid bug Harpocera thoracica (male)|
New to my Species List.
The day-flying Mother Shipton moth caught my eye, and it posed conveniently for a few shots:
|Mother Shipton moth|
I have seen the Lacehopper Tachycixius pilosus
quite a few times, but this one seems to have a mite of some kind under the left wing. Mites usually position themselves in places where they can't be scratched off.
|The Lacebug, Tachycixius pilosus|
Finally, a Tetragnatha sp. 'Stretch Spider'. There are a couple of these that can't be separated without a microscope:
|Tetragnatha sp. 'Stretch Spider'|
Not bad for around 2 hours work, and we did count around 25 CWW.