Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Another last blog!

Well, we should have been moving today, but now it won't be until the 14th.

As Robbie Burns said:   'The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men
                                  Aft gang agley'

Actually, what he originally wrote was:  'The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men
                                                           Often go up the Swanee'

But he decided that readers wouldn't understand that, so he went with 'Aft gang agley'.

So here we sit, surrounded by boxes and packing cases, waiting for another week before we can depart!

I took the opportunity to prune a climbing rose which had not only become too large but had developed mildew. I took a pair of loppers to a stout branch and as I did so I saw that it was covered with brown limpet-like scales.

This pest, known as European Fruit Lecanium (or simply Brown Scale insect), is very widespread but never apparently included on recording sheets by entomologists; perhaps it is too troublesome to spell. Parthenolecanium corni is certainly a mouthful.

Parthenolecanium corni on rose branch.
Byfield, 5 August, 2014

In fact, the conical brown excrescences are just the dead scales left by this insect, a bug belonging to the Coccidae. The species is more common on Pyracantha bushes but is known from several genera in the Rose Family. It could have been there for many months without me being aware of it.

Speaking of unawareness, earlier today I parked my car beneath an oak tree adjacent to the Village Hall. I must have passed the tree a couple of times every week for the past 8-9 years, say between 750 and 1000 times. I looked up into the branches and saw for the first time that it is a Turkey Oak. How embarrassing is that!

The fruit of the Turkey Oak. Byfield, 6 August, 2014

There really is no excuse. The 'cup' is covered in rather long, hooked spines and the smallish acorn is almost concealed among these outgrowths. This species, Quercus cerris, is a native of central and southern Europe and is widely planted. It can become a pest and efforts have been made to eradicate it from some areas.

I must keep my eyes open!


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