Friday, 31 May 2013

Garden surprises

I have been suffering from Bloggers Block - a problem brought on by a combination of miserable weather and shortage of time. 

Yesterday I paid a visit to the Wildlife Trust at Boddington Meadow. It is only the second time I've been there - an odd situation as it is only about two miles away. It was a grey, breezy day and in the wet conditions my sweep net was soon wet too. In fact I secured a good haul of flies, but they were not a photogenic lot.

Forest Bug, Pentatoma rufipes. My garden in Byfield.
31 May, 2013
Today was much finer and I grabbed the chance to go into the garden and sow a few annual flower seeds where there were gaps in the borders. On one of the plants sat a Forest Bug, Pentatoma rufipes. Despite its name it is by no means confined to woodlands but is quite frequent in rural gardens. The triangular scutellum on this specimen is a clear yellow but normally it is maroon-brown with just a yellow tip. 

Rhingia rostrata in a Blakesley garden.
31 May, 2013
In the afternoon Chris and I met up with friends for a pub lunch in the pretty village of Blakesley. Later on we sat in a village garden nearby where I was pleased to see Rhingia rostrata visiting the flowers of Green Alkanet. In the morning, in my own garden, I had been watching Rhingia campestris, one of our commonest late spring-early summer hoverflies, visiting flowers but here was its far less common relative. Until a couple of decades ago it seemed to be largely confined to the west of Britain but has apparently moved east to establish a toehold in Northants. Both these species have a long snout but in rostrata it is slightly shorter and there is a clear black border to the tergites (the plates forming the upper surface of the abdomen). Although my photograph is a little fuzzy - I only had a small pocket camera with me - it can be seen that the black border is missing. 
Rhingia rostrata in a Blakesley garden.
30 May, 2013

There are several mysteries about Rhingia rostrata, with the needs of its larvae being unknown. The suggestion has been made that a connection exists between the larvae and badger latrines but, as far as I am aware, this connection has not been confirmed.

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