Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Kentle Wood in early May

I have little expertise with regard to wasps, bees ants and sawflies. Moths are also a weak area for me, as are grasshoppers and their kin; ditto snails and slugs. Nevertheless, with these limitations in mind I am aiming to do as thorough a survey as possible of the invertebrates of Kentle Wood and today I set out on a pleasantly warm morning to continue the work.

In fact I was sidetracked before even entering the woodland. At the end of Browns Road, at SP554625, stands a line of about ten poplars. they are Balsam Poplars, Populus balsamifera, or a closely related species. Whatever they were, the air was fragrant with the lovely scent of balsam resin.

Many of the leaves bore regular pale spots. I suspect this is not a disease but a natural feature of the species. Certainly I have observed it at other sites.

Phratora laticollis beetles were abundant.
Browns Road, Daventry. 12 may, 2015
A female Syrphus ribesii basks on a poplar leaf.
Browns Road, Daventry. 12 May, 2015

Whatever the species it was proving extremely popular (sorry, no pun intended) with beetles. Dozens of the leaf beetle, Phratora laticollis, were present, many of them mating. Although this beetle is occasionally found on willows it is overwhelmingly a poplar specialist.

This hoverfly, Syrphus ribesii, was loafing on a leaf. Ribes is, of course, the gooseberry/blackcurrant genus but this insect appears to have no particular association with these plants.

This hoverfly, Dasysyrphus albostriatus was taken from
poplar at Browns Road, Daventry, 12 May, 2015

Also present - and of more interest - were two other hoverfly species: Xylota segnis and this smart female Dasysyphus albostriatus. Neither is rare but may be new records for this area.

A tiger cranefly, Nephrotoma appendiculata, was also present together with a host of other flies of no interest except to the enthusiast.

And so on to Kentle Wood. With a strong wind blowing I worked at ground level investigating grass tussocks. Again the species recorded are of no general interest.

Mythimna conigera  at Kentle Wood, Daventry.
11 May, 2015
The caterpillar of a Brown-line Bright-eye moth, Mythimna conigera was feeding on grass. This moth is not to be confused with 
the far commoner Bright-line Brown-eye, Lacanobia oleracea, a pest species often found in gardens. (I always have to double-check the name!)

Click beetles were very common in this situation too. Their common name comes from the fact that they are to leap in the air while on their backs, making a distinct clicking sound. Their larvae, known as wireworms, are a pest of agricultural crops. I examined four specimens and all proved to be the Dusky Wireworm Beetle, Agriotes obscurus. Rather disappointing as this had already been recorded from the site.

The survey is going well. Before today I had recorded 17 species of flowering plant (ignoring those trees planted to create the woodland), 2 fungi (not really my thing) and 109 invertebrates including 21 species of spider, 23 beetle species and 30 flies. But I now have a heavy workload to deal with today's findings.

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