Monday, 26 May 2014

Return to Ramsden Corner

On 11 May I, together with a group of friends, visited Ramsden Corner, a local nature reserve of Northants Wildlife Trust (see blog for 13 May). Conditions were far from ideal so today, with the sun shining and having a spare couple of hours, I paid a return visit.

A hornet, Vespula crabro, greeted me just inside the gate. At around 30 mm in length these wasps look alarming, but may be regarded as gentle giants, not often provoked to sting. Nevertheless, I left it undisturbed.

Yellow-barred Longhorn, one of the micro-moths.
Ramsden Corner, 25 May, 2014
In the woodland small moths (generally known as micro-moths) flitted here and there. I netted one for a photograph and it turned out to be the Yellow-barred Longhorn, Nemophora degeerella. It is named after the famous Swedish naturalist Charles De Geer and is a common and widespread moth. Strangely, despite its mundane status, its larval food plant seems yet to be identified.

The bluebells, which had bloomed in beautiful swathes only a fortnight, were now a rather tatty mess, but fat capsules of ripening seeds showed that their future had been assured. Red Campions were still in flower; they have had a wonderful year throughout Northants and I have never seen them looking better.

Epiphragma ocellare at Ramsden Corner.
25 May, 2014

Small groups of craneflies danced beneath overhanging plants. Each group consisted of abot 6-10 individuals and it seems likely that these swarms are a mating ritual. I was able to photograph one and the the curious wing patterning is  (reasonably) clear. The species is Epiphragma ocellare, another widespread and common insect. It is not a true cranefly but belongs to a closely related family, the Limoniidae.

A Cardinal beetle, Pyrochroa serraticornis.
Ramsden Corner, 25 May, 2014

It would be difficult to overlook the brilliant red beetle Pyrochroa serraticornis. Even the head is red, thus distinguishing it from the closely related but much scarcer P. coccinea, which has a black head. This insect, and its close relatives, are called Cardinal Beetles. They are all predators.

I was able to secure very large numbers of insects and their identification will keep me out of mischief for some days.

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