Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Farthinghoe Nature Reserve

Led by John Showers, a small group of entomologists met at this linear reserve to survey the diptera. Managed by Northamptonshire Wildlife Trust it does not, on entering the site, present a very exciting prospect but this is deceptive.  This stretch of disused railway track, covering some 4 hectares, opens up both to east and west to offer an interesting range of habitats.

The day had begun with wall-to-wall sunshine but by the time our group gathered the conditions were grey and rather cool. Undaunted we spread out along the old track bed and got to work. Cowslips and primroses brightened up the area but in the sunless conditions they were receiving few insect visitors.

Primrose, Primula vulgaris at Farthinghoe Reserve.
5 May, 2013

A little beyond mid morning the sun finally broke through and with it more insects put in an appearance. The Dark-edged Bee Fly, Bombylius major, was present in considerable numbers together with several species of hoverfly, including the  Tapered Drone-fly, Eristalis pertinax. (A number of attempts have been made to give common names to hoverflies but no consensus has been reached.) Seven species of Eristalis  occur in Britain but this is perhaps the commonest of them, often found even in urban gardens.

Eristalis pertinax at Farthinghoe Reserve,
5 May, 2013

Apart from diptera, insects from other groups were noted including shield bugs and beetles. Although vaguely beetle-like in appearance, these bugs have several major differences including mouth parts which form a "drinking straw" for tapping in to plant (and occasionally animal) fluids. Despite its cryptic coloration a Green Shieldbug, Palomena prasina, was spotted on a leaf. I have referred to this species in a previous blog dated 17 April, 2013.

Green Shieldbug, Palomena prasina, at
Farthinghoe Reserve. 5 May, 2013
Also present in considerable numbers was the Pied Shieldbug, Tritomegas bicolor. In all cases it was on its food plant, the White Deadnettle. With its black and white coloration it is a smart little insect and is found in Byfield Pocket Park where. last year, I estimated several hundreds to be present.
Pied Shieldbug Tritomegas bicolor at
Farthinghoe Reserve. 5 May, 2013

A leaf beetle, Chrysolina polita, was noted.
One of the Leaf Beetles,  Chrysolina polita
Farthinghoe Reserve, 5 May, 2013
It is a common species, tending to frequent damp places. It is quite variable in colour but the pronotum (the area behind the head) is generally a striking metallic bronze-green - a feature unfortunately not obvious in my photograph.

It will be several days before all the insects noted have been accurately identified but there is no doubt that the visit was well worthwhile.

No comments:

Post a Comment