Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Daventry library

Daventry has a very poor library. I do not blame the librarians, they do their best. But they face day-to-day problems with regards to funding and I make very little use of the facilities. However, this same funding problem has led to the surroundings, particularly to the rear of the premises, becoming very neglected - and wildlife has taken advantage of the situation.
Some blackthorn, Prunus spinosa, bushes nearby have been 'infected' with Eriophyes similis. There is nothing unusual in that, but I have never seen such an overwhelming attack.
Blackthorn galled by the mite, Eriophyes similis. Near Daventry Library,
30 May, 2017
The galls created by this mite were on every leaf with, as is usual, most formed at the leaf edge and although galls normally have little if any effect on the general health of the host an infestation of this magnitude must surely be debilitating.
A closer view of the galls.
Oxford Ragwort, Senecio squalidus, had colonised waste ground, its golden flowers much appreciated by insects seeking nectar. The story of this species, with its remarkable, spread across Britain has been well-documented and I have told the story elsewhere in these blogs.
Oxford Ragwort is common on waste ground.
Daventry. 30 May, 2017
It is closely related to Groundsel, Senecio vulgaris, and the hybrids arising from these two species are highly complex. So far I have not knowingly encountered any of these hybrids.
Yellow Corydalis, Daventry.
30 May, 2017

Growing nearby was yellow-flowered Yellow Corydalis, Pseudofumaria lutea. It is frequently encountered in towns where it often colonises brickwork and I only mention it because I have, in the last few days, planted its less common relative, Pseudofumaria alba, in our front garden.

Pseudofumaria alba, its less common relative, in our garden.
30 May, 2017

 On waste ground nearby I was pleased to find Honesty, Lunaria annua, in full flower. Despite its specific epithet of annua it is a biennial. This popular garden plant is a member of the Cabbage Family, Brassicaceae and, like many other species in the family such as Oilseed Rape, Brassica napus, subsp. oleifera, it yields oil.
It is not yet, as far as I am aware, being grown commercially for this purpose but the oil from Honesty would appear to have valuable potential both medicinally and as a specialist lubricant. What a lovely sight a field if it would make!
Honesty on mauve and white forms on waste ground, Daventry.
30 MaY, 2017
The leaves of  Creeping Buttercup plants, Ranunculus repens, were being mined by the fly Phytomyza ranunculivora. As is often the case the species could only be determined by the distribution of the frass (poo) in the mines. I do have an exciting life!
Creeping Buttercup is commonly mined. Daventry. 30 May, 2017
Earlier I said that wildlife was taking advantage of the situation and sometimes it does this in remarkable ways. A solid brick wall has, at one point, been pierced by a blackberry bramble, Rubus fruticosus, and will, given time, split the structure asunder.
Bramble driving through a wall, Daaventry library in the  background.
30 May, 2017
This doesn't matter as the whole site is due for redevelopment in the near future. And hopefully we'll get a new library!

Friday, 26 May 2017

Goings-on in the front garden

It's now late May, and things are really moving. Twelve months ago I put in one plant of Rhodanthemum hosmariense, a member of the Daisy Family from North Africa. By June it was putting forth flowers and then continued to do so for the next eleven months - really. It flowered throughout the winter and has even in December and January it was in full bloom - an amazing plant. Perhaps it is getting rather large for its position but I can live with it.
Rhodanthemum hosmariense has put on an astonishing display of flowers.
Stefen Hill, Daventry. 26 May, 2017
Even larger is a specimen of Helianthemum chamaecistus (still frequently sold under its old name of H. nummularium). It has rose-red flowers but the wild plant - it is a native of Britain - has buttercup-yellow blooms. I delight in the fact that it receives a steady procession of bee visitors. It is a member of the Rock-rose family, Cistaceae and indeed its Latin specific name translates as dwarf or low cistus.
Helianthemum chamaecistus is spreading just a little too much.
Stefen Hill, Daventry. 26 May, 2017
Creeping over some of the stones like a silver-grey crust is Raoulia australis. It is a native of New Zealand, where it is apparently called Scabwort! It is said that some specimens of the related Raoulia eximia are so large that from a distance they can be mistaken for sheep. Almost unbelievably it too is a member of the Daisy Family but I am not expecting it to flower.

Raoulia australis is a curious rather than beautiful plant.
Stefen Hill, Daventry. 26 May, 2017
Some species of Pratia are also New Zealanders but I grow Pratia pedunculata, an Aussie, and I almost wish I didn't. This member of the Campanula Family is undeniably pretty, with sky-blue flowers and a neat habit. But it spreads inexorably by means of its stolons and I am constantly tugging up bits of these procumbent stems. Ideally the plant needs to be confined in some way.
A carpet of starry blue flowers. Pratia pedunculata at Stefen Hill, Daventry.
26 May, 2017
Chiastophyllum oppositifolium is a delight. It does not look like a Sedum but, like them, it is a member of the Crassulaceae and is the only member of its genus. Its arching stems of yellow flowers explain its name of Lamb's Tail and it does indeed put one in mind of giant hazel catkins. Despite coming from South Africa, it seems completely hardy. It should spread gently and allow me to detach some rooted pieces.

Chiastophyllum oppositifolium in our front garden at Stefen Hill,
Daventry. 26 May, 2017
Finally, an oddity. A cactus acquired, unlabelled, some years ago has become a bit too large for its window-sill location. A number of cacti are reasonably hardy, with some enduring very cold conditions in the Andes. Their real enemy in most cases is damp and I have placed this specimen in a rather dry but sunny corner.

Mystery cactus in our front garden.  27 May, 2017
It has, as they say, two chances. It may be Cleistocactus hylacanthus but unless it flowers I have no real idea what it is.

Tony White. diaea@yahoo.co.uk

Goings-on at the allotment

It may be recalled that Chris and I took on an allotment back in mid-March. The ground was a bit rough, not having had a proper autumn dig. (I may try to allow the plot to evolve with a no-dig policy, but that's for next autumn.) The only significant problems have been pigeons and slugs. One of the first crops I sowed was rocket but foolishly overlooked the fact that it is a brassica. To be precise it is now Eruca sativa. It was formerly known as Brassica eruca - but the pigeons haven't been told of its re-classification. They gobbled up the lot! They also attacked out peas but I have subsequently netted them and we should now get a decent crop. The slugs are more problematic. They have attacked the courgettes and - surprisingly - the rhubarb. I have reluctantly put down slug pellets.
Of course I keep an eye open for wildlife, good, 'bad' and neutral.
In the neutral category are damsel flies. This Common Blue Damselfly, Enallagma cyathigerum, was no doubt on the lookout for new territory, but in its wanderings came to rest on some rampant couch grass on a neglected plot.

Common Blue Damselfly at Drayton Allotments, Daventry. 25 May, 2017

I also regard Dock Bugs, Coreus marginatus, as neutral. It is true that their larvae may sometimes use rhubarb as a host plant but their damage is negligible. Here a mating pair uses a raspberry leaf as a trysting place. 
Mating Dock Bugs on a raspberry leaf. Drayton Allotments,
Daventry. 25 May, 2017

Our plot is partially shaded by a moderately large cherry tree and its leaves display what appear to be galls. In fact they are glands and are referred to as extra-floral nectaries. They are found on most (all?) species of Prunus and, although they produce water and sugars their function is not that of attracting pollinators.

A pair of extra-floral nectaries is to be found on the petiole of each cherry
leaf. Drayton Allotments, Daventry. 25 May, 2017
Over 2000 species of plant are known to bear extra-floral nectaries and although much needs to be explained it is thought that they encourage beneficial insects to visit the plant. Certainly ladybirds have been known to visit EFNs and perhaps clear aphids on their visits.
A neighbouring allotment has redcurrant bushes whose leaves carry highly disfiguring blister-like growths. This is damage caused by an aphid, Cryptomyzus ribis, unsurprisingly called the Redcurrant Blister Aphid. A tar-oil winter wash will generally deal with the problem.
The red blisters caused by Cryptomyzus ribis. Drayton Allotments,
Daventry. 25 May, 2017
I am inclined to regard the  Swollen-thighed Oil Beetle, Oedemera nobilis,  as a beneficial insect as it is a pollen feeder and may inadvertently carry pollen from plant to plant, but in truth it is of very little importance in that context. Despite its name, only the male has these grossly swollen thighs (femora). It was feeding on the pollen of Poached-egg Plant, Limnanthes douglasii, which had been planted on several of the plots.
Oedemera nobilis visiting Poached-egg Plant where it will feed on the
pollen. Drayton Allotments, Daventry. 25 May, 2017

I'll be keeping a lookout for pollinators, pests and parasites. You have been warned!

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Byfield Village Hall

My blogs are concerned, generally speaking, about gardens and wildlife; humans rarely get a mention, not because I am anti-social (I hope) but because I write what is basically a diary or an aide-memoire of my daily observations. And they are mundane. If you seek information on, say, mosses and liverworts on the Cambrian limestone of Wester Ross, you've come to the wrong place. But if, like me, you seek to know a little more about the creepy-crawlies around your garden shed, read on.
Today I went for a mooch around the surroundings of Byfield's village hall. (Regular readers will know that I mooch a lot. If mooching were an Olympic event...)
A grassy bank faces the hall entrance and on it is a swathe of Arabian Medick, Medicago arabica. From whence it came I know not but as far as I am concerned it is welcome, with its trifoliate leaves, each bearing a maroon blotch in the centre.
Arabian Medick beside Byfield Village Hall. 24 May, 2017
It is clearly related to the clovers but, should it produce fruit they will be in the form of a coiled pod, like a spiny snail. The flowers are tiny - barely two millimetres long - but of a typical pea-flower shape.
The tiny flower of Arabian Medick. Byfield, Northants. 24 May, 2017
A short distance away stands a Turkey Oak, Quercus cerris, and today I noticed that it bore some interesting galls. They may be the common 'artichoke galls' caused by a wasp, Andricus foecundatrix, but they are not yet mature enough for certain identification. Watch this space.
Gall on Turkey Oak. Byfield, Northants. 24 May, 2017
Just a few paces further on a Lime Tree, Tilia x europaea, bore a less problematic leaf-roll. It was the work of a fly, Dasineura tiliae, and concealed in the roll were its orange-coloured grubs.

Leaf roll on Common Lime caused by Dasineura tiliae. Byfield.
24 May, 2017
Beside the tennis club the leaves of honeysuckle, Lonicera periclymenum, and Snowberry, Symphoricarpos albus, were being attacked by the same insect. The larvae of Aulagromyza hendeliana produce sinuous mines often hugging the leaf edge.
Snowberry leaf mined by Aulagromyza hendeliana. Byfield, Northants.
24 May, 2017
It is a common but harmless fly and, given that the Snowberry is closely related to honeysuckles the situation was to be expected.
Honeysuckle mined by the same species of fly.
And that was about it. Not a very interesting list, you may think, and I fully agree. It was only a short stroll around a small area of a village yet I should have found far, far more. Later in the day I drove some eight or nine miles from Upper Boddington to Daventry. It was a still and balmy evening with the temperature around twenty degrees Celsius: in the car headlights, despite edging Badby Woods I picked up only four moths. If I had taken that same journey sixty years ago there would have been hundreds and following similar journeys I can recall subsequently helping my father pick dozens of dead moths from the radiator grille and the windscreen wipers of our car. Something catastrophic has happened to our wildlife and we now have a situation where children will be fully conversant with the latest apps for their mobile phones but have never seen a woolly bear caterpillar or heard a cuckoo. 'I know a bank where the wild thyme grows' wrote Shakespeare. Well I don't and nowadays few children do.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Christchurch Drive, Daventry.

Daventry's Christchurch Drive is quite a busy thoroughfare but the numbers of vehicles using it are as nothing to the A45  running almost parallel to it. So busy is this, forming part of a Daventry bypass, that a belt of trees has been planted to separate the two and muffle the incessant noise from Stefen Way, as the A45 is called at this point.
A belt of trees on the south side of Christchurch Drive, Daventry,
help to drown the sound of traffic on the nearby A45. 24 May, 2017
The trees used to create this vital barrier are overwhelmingly Field Maple, Acer campestre, but ash, oak, sycamore, cherry and beech leaven the mix, with all except the last-named regenerating as saplings.
Between the trees it is surprisingly countrified. 24 May, 2017
Children and dog-walkers have created tracks running through the trees, eventually breaking from the shade into the sunlight of a meadow-like hillside, studded with buttercups, daisies and the like. They are really rather pleasant surroundings  - and all within three minutes walk from our house.
There is even a stretch of grassland.
Today I made a visit to the area but confined myself to the trees and seeking woodland insects with, I must confess, only limited success. On a sunny patch of disturbed ground at the woodland edge grew Fat Hen, Chenopodium album, bearing a leaf mine almost certainly the work of the micro-moth, Chrysoesthia sexgutella. Known as the Six-spot Neb, it is quite common on waste ground where the food plant occurs but so rarely gets a mention that I felt morally obliged to get it in my blog.
The mine of the Six-spot Neb on Fat Hen. Christchurch Road, Daventry.
23 May, 2017
Nearby, on a dock plant, a rather similar leaf mine was present, but despite the superficial resemblance it is not the work of a moth but of a fly. Pegomya solennis is a very common member of the Anthomyiidae,  the Root-maggot flies. Despite this family's common name the maggots - larvae - are obviously not confined to roots.
Pegomyia solennis can create huge blister-like mines on dock leaves.
Christchurch Road, Daventry. 23 May, 2017
Leaves of a sycamore bore the scarlet pustules caused by a very common mite, Aceria cephalonea. Several broadly similar galls may be found and a good guide is needed to steer the enthusiast through this cecidological minefield.
A rash of pustules created by the mite, Aceria cephalonea. It tends to be
confined to sycamores. Christchurch Road, Daventry. 23 May, 2017
Being still early in the season the leaves of oak were largely free of blemishes but another three months on and the story will be quite different. However a micro moth, Dyseriocrania subpurpurella, had been at work. As indicated by its name of Common Oak Purple, it is very widespread and so its presence came as no surprise
Larvae of the Common Oak Purple moth create blister-shaped mines on
oak leaves. Christchurch Road, Daventry. 23 May, 2017
This is all very well (and boring to most of the public) but where are the flowers and what of adult insects? Where are the butterflies, iridescent wasps and beautiful beetles? Well, a very shy Speckled Wood was present, keeping its wings as tight together as a nun's...(Ed. Enough of that! We don't want any smut around here.)
A rather coy Speckled Wood, loth to spread its wings.
Christchurch Road, Daaventry. 23 May, 2017
As I was saying, as tight together as a nun's hands at prayer. Anyway, it partially spread its wings for a moment and I had to be content. A carabid beetle sat nicely on a leaf, albeit at quite a distance, making photography difficult. Carabids are generally referred to as Ground Beetles and we do find most of them on the ground, often beneath stones, logs or leaf litter. This specimen of Amara ovata, with a slightly brassy reflection, clearly fancied itself as Icarus and I stood on tiptoe, almost overbalancing, as I reached for a photograph. Perhaps I shouldn't have bothered!

Amara ovata is a very common ground beetle. Christchurch Road,
Daventry. 23 May, 2017
The Empididae, known as Dagger Flies, include some rare and interesting species. Empis tessellata, may be interesting but rare it is not, so to see one today was not a mind-blowing experience, and yet some extremely common flies really ought to be given more credit for their aesthetic qualities.
My camera failed to do justice to the brilliance of this Neomyia cornicina.
Christchurch Road, Daventry. 23 May, 2017
Neomyia cornicina has something in common with a Blue Tit: both are extremely common and rather lovely creatures, yet both are taken for granted and to some extent undervalued. It is true that the former feeds on excrement and corpses but then again, some otherwise likeable humans read the Daily Mail. When freshly emerged from its pupa this fly is of a brilliant iridescent blue-green but tend to become more bronze coloured as it ages. It has several relatives of a broadly similar appearance.
The sun was brilliant today and conditions good for observing wildlife and, although the species seen were all commonplace I was well-pleased with what I saw - and I still have a potful of specimens to put under the microscope.

And all this within a coke-can's throw of a lorry window!

Tuesday, 23 May 2017


For many gardeners weeds are anathema and must be removed immediately. By and large I treat them with disdain and on our allotment I wield the hoe with gusto. However, when hand weeding in the garden I am a little more heedful - asking myself just what am I removing and why? This has often paid off and several plants have escaped grasping fingers and now give pleasure - and a degree of smug satisfaction. Several saxifrages are now in flower having been spotted when still seedlings. Tiny plants of Cyclamen hederifolia have also received a reprieve as have Pasque Flowers.
Speaking of Pasque Flowers, Pulsatilla vulgaris, their petaloid sepals have now fallen, to be replaced by numerous fruits with silky, feathery styles.
Pulsatilla vulgaris - the Pasque Flower - in seed. Our garden at Stefen Hill,
Daventry. 22 May, 2017
Aesthetically this is pleasing as the plants provide us with a second season of beauty but botanically it is interesting too, as the relationship to Clematis now becomes obvious.
Some plants have been spared, not because they are specially garden-worthy, but because for some oddball reason I like them. An example is Goat's Beard, Tragopogon pratensis. Its bright golden-yellow flowers open in the morning but have closed by the afternoon. giving rise to its common names of Jack-go-to-bed-at-noon, Nap-at-noon and so on.
Jack-go-to-bed-at-noon. A morning picture! Stefen Hill,
Daventry. 23 May, 2017

I must admit that a specimen of this dandelion relative sneaked in, growing between other robust plants, so that when I eventually spotted it I hadn't the heart to remove it. I'll allow it to flower and produce its giant 'dandelion clock' fruiting heads, and then remove it. There are around 60-70 species of Tragopogon including Salsify, Tragopogon porrifolius.
Another example is a Fuchsia now growing in a sheltered corner of the front garden. Fuschias often have succulent fruit - edible so I've been told - and are probably taken by birds. If this specimen has been bird sown that would explain its presence, for I certainly didn't plant it and it wasn't in the garden when we bought the house. I'll allow it to flower too but it will probably get the heave-ho; it is out of proportion for this spot in the garden.

I tolerate a few Welsh Poppies. Stefen Hill, Daventry.
22 May, 2017

What of Welsh Poppies, Papaver cambricum  (formerly Meconopsis cambrica)? Certainly they are bright and cheerful but despite careful dead-heading a few seedlings pop up, generally to be weeded out, and yet again I lack the ruthlessness to remove them all. Another potentially problematic poppy, the Opium Poppy, Papaver somniferum, has appeared in the front garden but has been given short shrift. It is simply too tall for the situation. Despite being the source of a remarkable number of drugs - morphine, codeine, thebaine, noscapine, laudosine, to name but a few - I am not tempted. I'll leave its cultivation to the handful of farmers who grow low-alkaloid varieties for the baking industry wherein it is scattered on buns and bread.
Seedlings are at the root of many problems with weeds. The Fairy Foxglove, Erinus alpinus, is an undeniably attractive plant, so when I saw one growing on waste ground at Dolls Hill, Byfield, I happily lifted it and put in in our front garden. The fact that this little Pyrenean alpine had seeded itself into waste ground should have been a warning!
Fairy Foxglove is under control - but only just! Stefen Hill, Daventry.
22 May, 2017
It was found 'wild' many years ago near Loch Assynt, in Sutherland along with other alpine rarities and it was eventually realised that someone had deliberately sown or planted them. The colony has not spread widely but the plant I gathered at Doll's Hill has behaved quite differently, seeding throughout our front garden and, pretty though it may be, is now trying my patience. Despite its appearance this diminutive plant really is closely related to foxgloves, Digitalis, species. The two genera for most of my lifetime have been in the Scrophulariaceae family but have now been transferred to the Plantaginaceae, making the foxgloves akin to the plantains!

The inflorescence of Ribwort Plantain, Plantago lanceolata.
Christchurch Drive, Daventry. 23 May, 2017
 But it is apparently illogical relationships like this is that makes botany - and weeding - so fascinating.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Charlton Gardens

Charlton is a small but very pretty village in South-west Northants. Most of the houses have been constructed using the local sandstone and the settlement compares favourably with some of the most attractive Cotswold examples. With a population of about 200 people it would be tempting to regard Charlton as no more than a hamlet, but with a church (St James), a pub (the Rose and Crown) a village shop and a school it is clearly a genuine village. It also oozes prosperity and one suspects that a Jeremy Corbyn rally here would attract the traditional two men and a dog. There are several Charltons and the name is derived from ceorl's tun, a ceorl being a once-tied labourer who has been freed and give land to work.
But enough of these socio-political observations, today three of the village gardens were open to the public, so Chris and I took a look around. As it happened, the first of the three properties we visited, Walnut House, turned out to be the most interesting, perhaps in part because tea and cakes were on sale. We also purchased some plants. One was Pseudofumaria alba, a pretty little short-lived perennial formerly known as Corydalis alba. The yellow-flowered Pseudofumaria lutea is very common and grows in crevices on brick walls in Daventry; this largely white species from the Balkans is less often seen.
Pseudofumaria alba, a pretty but short lived perennial.
Charlton, Northants. 21 May, 2017
As is so often the case, the flowers merit a closer look, when the yellow throat and its membership of the Fumariaceae family is clear. I'm hoping it will self-seed and subsequently pop up in odd corners of our garden.
The flowers are dainty and of a curious shape.
On a plant nearby a pair of shieldbugs were mating - in copula as naturalists often term it. They were on a herbaceous plant but were nevertheless Sloe Bugs, Dolycoris baccarum. This common insect, one of our prettiest shieldbugs,  is associated with White Dead-nettles and thistles but never, as far as I know, with sloes!
Sloe Bugs mating. Charlton, Northants. 21. May, 2017
We ended up at the imposing Charlton Lodge, looking generally Victorian but apparently originating in the sixteenth century.
The grounds are very extensive with a herbaceous border some 140 feet long. Understandably the gardens, being large-scale, lacked any feeling of intimacy and the plants were rather mundane. It was not a 'plantsman's garden', but then nor were either of the other two visited.
However, the weather was pleasantly sunny, the cakes were good and overall the afternoon was quite enjoyable.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Kentling again

Most birders have a favourite patch - an interesting habitat not too far from home. He or she will visit it regularly and come to know it intimately. I suppose entomologists have a similar favourite and with me it is Kentle Wood. Not that it can be called prime habitat because as a wooded area it has only existed since the millennium, but it is convenient and occasionally throws up a surprise.
Despite it being my 'patch' it has been the best part of a month since I last visited it, but today was fine and sunny so I decided to go for it - a spot of 'kentling'.
It is a little early in the season for orchids to be in flower but I wanted to confirm that the Common Spotted Orchids, Dactylorhiza fuchsii, had not been interfered with. I need not have worried; a dozen or so plants were there and looked fine, with their distinctive and handsome leaves undamaged by rabbit nibbling.
Common Spotted Orchid at Kentle Wood, Daventry.
18 May, 2017
Not far away, on a plant of Cow parsley, aka Keck, Anthriscus sylvestris, was the distinctive hoverfly Volucella pellucens. It is common throughout the summer and later in the year I expect to find it on bramble blossom but I am always pleased to see it. With the distinct black patches on the wings and the white area on the abdomen it can hardly be mistaken for any other species.
A female Volucella pellucens on Cow Parsley. Kentle Wood, Daventry.
18 May, 2017
Scrambling up through the Cow Parsley was Goosegrass, Galium aparine. It is also called Cleavers but locally it is known to schoolchildren as Stickyweed. As a member of the Rubiaceae family it is related to coffee but I have to say any similarities are not obvious to me. The young leaves were twisted and distorted by the activities of a mite, Cecidophyes rouhollahi. It is a common pest but there appears to be no long-term damage to the host.
Goosegrass attacked by the mite Cecidophyes rouhollahi. Kentle Wood.
18 May, 2017
Also showing an interest in the Cow Parsley flowers was that distinctive beetle, Pyrochroa serraticornis. Its red head distinguishes from the black-headed P. coccinea, and the latter is, in my experience, less common.
Pyrochroa serraticornis on Cow Parsley.
Kentle Wood, Daventry. 18 May, 2017
The larvae feed on insects beneath bark. This second photograph also shows P. serraticornis but bright sunlight is making it appear paler.
Butterflies and moths were not frequent on the wing today but as compensation some caterpillars were seen. Feeding on cherry foliage was the cryptically coloured larva of the Winter Moth, Operophtera brumata. This is very common and can often reach pest status despite the females being flightless with only vestigial wings.
Winter Moth caterpillar on Cherry. Kentle Wood, Daventry.
18 May, 2017
Significantly larger, and generally more striking, was The Drinker, Euthrix potatoria. I would like to report that this is a rare and much sought-after moth but it is abundant and I showed a very small specimen in my blog about The Twistle as recently as the tenth of this month! Today's specimen appeared fully grown and may have been seeking a place to pupate.
The Drinker moth has a distinctive caterpillar. Kentle Wood, Daventry.
18 May, 2017
I was taking a few diptera for examination later but there were other insects to merit attention. A female scorpion fly proved to be Panorpa germanica . At one time species were identified by the patterning on the wings but that is now known to be unreliable. Instead dissection of the genitalia is necessary, a fiddly but not intrinsically difficult job. Unfortunately I was unable to photograph a male, whose vaguely scorpion-like sexual appendages give these insects their common name. Incidentally they are completely harmless, living by scavenging. 
A female scorpion fly, Panorpa germanica. Kentle Wood, Daventry.
18 May, 2017
Now for those diptera...