Wednesday, 2 September 2015


I decided it was time for another visit to Newnham windmill (see blogs for 16 May and 5 August). A dull and cool morning delayed me but a promise of afternoon sunshine finally got me going. Steady walking soon took me to the acid pastures of this interesting site and I was quickly finding insects.

Pupa of Cassida rubiginosa. Creeping thistle near
Newnham windmill, Northants. 2 September, 2015

This strange-looking creature was on a Creeping Thistle, Cirsium arvense. It is a beetle pupa; to be more precise it is the pupa of Cassida rubiginosa, known as the Thistle Tortoise beetle.  Once it has emerged from this pupa the beetle, which is grass-green, will be well camouflaged. 

The pupa looks obvious but a closer look shows that the strange prickle-like protuberances help to break up the creature's outline and to me it resembles a piece of dried-up thistle leaf.

Leaf damage by the larvae of Coleophora peribenanderi.
Thistles near Newnham windmill, Northants.
2 September, 2015

Very obvious were these perforated leaves, showing where a moth, Coleophora peribenanderi, had been at work. Known as the Pale Thistle Case-bearer, its caterpillars are quite frequent on Creeping Thistle.

Newnham windmill. Graffiti not visible
from this angle. 2 September, 2015

The windmill stands at the top of a rather precipitous slope. Overnight rain had left the ground slippery in places and I had to be careful as I descended this dodgy hillside. Large clumps of gorse showed not a flower, unusual on this plant.

Small Copper on bramble blossom near Newnham
Windmill, Northants. 2 September, 2015
It was worth the descent for, feeding on bramble flowers at the foot, was this Small Copper, Lycaena phlaeas. It is a very common insect and yet I often go long periods without a sighting. The caterpillars feed on docks and sorrels.

The blossom on the brambles is important for, apart from a scattering of Hawkweed flowers (Pilosella species) there is not a lot about in the way of nectar sources. This should sustain insects until the ivy begins to flower. Of course there are always gardens and this is why, perhaps, I found so many on my rock garden flowers yesterday.

A few Red Campion flowers remain. Scrub near Newnham
windmill, Northants. 2 September, 2015

The occasional Red Campion, Silene dioica, offered nectar but it wasn't getting any takers as far as I could see. Perhaps evening moths...

Anyway, I did take plenty of insects, with sun-bathed wooden fences and posts being particularly productive, but I had something like a  mile and a half to walk home so I called it a day.

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