Saturday, 7 June 2014

Boddington Meadow L.N.R.

I have already written of my latest visit to Boddington Meadow local nature reserve, recounting something of the insect life on hogweed umbels. Elsewhere the meadow had lots to interest the naturalist. Orchids occur (although I saw none on my latest visit) together with plants typical of wet meadows.
Yellow-rattle at Boddington Meadow.
5 June, 2014

Yellow-rattle, Rhinanthus minor, was abundant. This annual is a hemi-parasite which, although it has green leaves and is therefore quite capable of photosynthesis. nevertheless taps into the roots of neighbouring plants and draws nutrients from them. This helps to suppress the growth of rank grasses, allowing less vigorous plants to flourish. It gets its name from the way that the seeds rattle when the plant is shaken.
Great Burnet at Boddington Meadow
5 June, 2014

Another plant typical of this habitat was Great Burnet, Sanguisorba officinalis.  The form of the inflorescence makes it hard to realise that this is a member of the Rose Family.
Great Burnet infected with Xenodochus carbonarius.
Boddington Meadow, 5 June, 2014

Many of the plants were afflicted with a yellow rustXenodochus carbonarius, but otherwise appeared healthy.

A pair of Urophora jaceana 'in cop' at Boddington Meadow

My visit threw up no rarities but I was pleased to find this pair of Urophora jaceana in my net. These flies, members of the Tephritidae family were very common together with Knapweed, the food plant for their larvae. I let them go to continue their procreative activities.

Dock Beetle, her abdomen distended by eggs.
Boddington Meadow, 5 June, 2014
On most of the dock plants there were specimens of Gastrophysa viridula, the females with grossly swollen, egg-filled abdomens. These are called - what else - Dock Beetles, common and widespread insects often found on waste ground. Some attempts have been made to use this species for biological control of the notorious Japanese Knotweed, but with little success.

Some attractive butterflies and moths were present. They aren't really my forte but I couldn't resist a photograph or three.

Yellow Shell moth at Boddington Meadow.
5 June, 2014

This pretty moth is the Yellow Shell, Camptogramma bilineata. It is a common but rather variable moth and feeds, among other things, on dock, but may also be found on chickweed.

Chimney Sweeper, Odezia atrata, at
Boddington Meadow. 5 June, 2014

I was pleased also to photograph a Chimney Sweeper moth, Odezia atrata. With a name like that you might expect a rather dull little creature. Not a bit of it! Black it may be but the white tips to the fore wing make it a very smart insect. It apparently feeds only on Pignut, a member of the Carrot Family. The Chimney Sweeper is common in the west of England, but further east it thins out to become rather scarce in East Anglia.

Male Common Blue at Boddington Meadow.
5 June, 2014

Finally a butterfly, a male Common Blue, Polyommatus icarus. It gets its name from the fact that it is common and blue but is perhaps less common than the Holly Blue, from which it can be distinguished by the fact that the Holly Blue has darker tips to the forewings. My comments refer to males. The common blue caterpillar feeds on clovers and vetches. There is no prize for guessing the food plant of the Holly Blue.

As we approach high summer a different suite of insects will make an appearance, so it goes without saying that I'll be returning to this reserve in a few weeks. Meadows like this are now rare; a habitat which, as a kid, I took for granted. Now relatively rare, these meadows are jealously safeguarded by wildlife organisations.

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