Friday, 18 July 2014

Woodford Halse - the Return

Having made a promising visit to Woodford Halse  a couple of days ago I was quite keen to return. Would my optimism be justified? Overnight rain had left much of the vegetation rather wet so for the first few minutes of the morning I contented myself with examining foliage, rather than use my net. 

Phyllocoptes goniothorax affecting the leaf edges of
Hawthorn. Woodford Halse. 17 July, 2014

Hawthorn is attacked by a range of flies, moths, mites and fungi. Here a mite, Phyllocoptes goniothorax, has been at work, causing the formation of leaf rolls over about 40% of the leaf's edge.

Hogweed showing the mines of Phytomyza spondylii.
Woodford Halse 17 July, 2014

In a small glade hogweed was also attack, this time from an agromyzid fly, Phytomyza spondylii. It seems clear that plants with the most nutritious leaves are most subject to attack, thus nettles, despite their obvious defences, are plagued by nibblers, borers and browsers.

A plant of wood avens, Geum urbanum, was displaying the galls of another mite, Cecidophyes nudus. These galls are in their early stages; they will swell to become far more disfiguring later.

Notocelia uddmanniana. Woodford Halse.
17 July, 2014
This is hardly the greatest of photographs but the main feature is clear enough; a bright chestnut patch on an otherwise grey background. It was on a leaf of hedge bindweed in a bed of stinging nettles and I couldn't get very near to it due to a patch of brambles. This was a clue to its identity for it is a Bramble Shoot Moth, Notocelia uddmanniana, a common species but new to me.

Many insects inadvertently carry ticks, mites etc. In fact, for many non-flying creatures such as false-scorpions,  this is an important means of dispersal, when it is known as phoresy.

Notostira elongata carrying a tick.
Woodford Halse, 17 July, 2014

An unfortunate bug, bearing a tick, was swept up by my net from a grassy glade. The tick will probably feed on the host until gorged, and then drop off. The host, in this case Notostira elongata, may be little the worse for the experience.

Notostira elongata in more detail. Note the antennae,
more or less the same length as the body.
Woodford Halse, 17 July, 2014

Notostira elongata is ubiquitous in grassland during the summer and a single sweep of a net may often secure a dozen or more. Its success may relate to the fact that it has two generations a year. The picture shows how its coloration will allow it to blend in with grass stems.

The area can hardly be described as flower-rich and Tufted Vetch, Vicia cracca, provided one of the few splashes of bright colour, but I set off home with a large haul of insects to be trawled through, so I was well pleased with the morning's results.

Tufted Vetch, Vicia cracca. Woodford Halse, 17, July, 2014


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