Friday, 18 September 2015

OK, I admit it: Kentle Wood again

The walk to Kentle Wood is, frankly, boring. I could use the car but I tell myself that the exercise is good for me. Today, walking in wellies in anticipation of wet conditions, I wasn't so sure.

A cluster fly, Pollenia angustigena. Kentle Wood,
Daventry. 17 September, 2015
I always keep my eyes open in case there is something out of the ordinary to be seen and occasionally I have reason to stop and have a closer look. A fly was loafing on a lamp post and I had almost walked past when I decided to have a closer look. It was just a Cluster Fly, but these insects are of interest if only because sometimes they create considerable problems by clustering in attics and lofts in huge numbers. 

They are easy to recognise because, as shown in the picture,  they have golden hairs on the thorax, although on old specimens they may all have worn off. The commonest of our eight British species is probably Pollenia rudis, but this specimen proved to be the slightly less common Pollenia angustigena. Do all Pollenia species indulge in clustering? We simply don't know.

A little further on and I found myself passing beneath a birch tree and for some reason lots of ladybirds and shieldbugs were on the foliage. Sadly all the ladybirds proved to be Harlequin Ladybirds, Harmonia axyridis

Easily overlooked. A Hawthorn Shieldbug.
Daventry.  17 September, 2015

The first of the shieldbugs to be noted was the ubiquitous Hawthorn Shieldbug, Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale. Common, yes, but very smartly turned out. The closely related Birch Shieldbug, Elasmostethus interstinctus, was also there, looking like a scaled-down version. 

The Forest Bug, Pentatoma rufipes, on birch foliage.
Daventry.  17 September, 2015

Present too was the Forest Bug,
Pentatoma  rufipes. The colours are more sombre but for me it is the more handsome insect. A bit subtle, like.

A couple of decidedly unphotogenic species (the brown lacewing, Wesmaelis subnebulosus being a case in point) were noted but I pressed on and by the time I had reached Kentle Wood I was beginning to regret my choice of footwear!

Idiocerus stigmaticalis bearing a tick. Kentle Wood,
Daventry. 17 September, 2015

I decided to ignore grasses and forbs, concentrating instead on the foliage of broad-leaved trees. An unfortunate cicadellid bug had a bloated black tick attached to it at the 'neck'. The bug appeared to be Idiocerus stigmaticalis; I haven't a clue regarding the tick species.

Gulls wheeled overhead, their screams vying with a pair of chattering magpies in raucousness. The gentle tapping of a woodpecker was barely noticed. Butterflies - all Speckled Woods - flitted along the rides. The sun was gaining in strength and ideal conditions prevailed.

The black fruits of Dogwood. Kentle Wood,
Daventry. 17 September, 2015

Dogwood, Cornus sanguinea, was bearing a good crop of black berries. A small gall - the Dogwood Rivet Gall - sometimes occurs on the leaves, but I looked for it in vain.
One of our largest shieldbugs, Palomena prasina.
Kentle Wood, Daventry. 17 September, 2015

But whilst looking I did see a Green Shieldbug, Palomena prasina, which, like me, seemed appreciative of the sunshine. It was the first of several specimens seen during the walk. This is one of our most widespread shieldbugs yet seems to to have been quite scarce during Victorian times. It is nice to report a success story, especially as this insect seems to do little harm.

Enjoyable though the walk was, it became increasingly evident that welly boots, though valuable in the wet grass, displayed certain disadvantages after a while - they were bloody uncomfortable! I had gathered a good haul of specimens for examining later. Time to head for home.

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