Monday, 31 July 2017

The Grange

The last day of July, and the weather was lovely. I resolved to walk to Kentle Wood: it would be about a mile and a half each way and should have been rewarding - but I never made it.
I set out in high spirits but was distracted before even leaving our front garden. Nectaring on a scabious plant was the large and handsome hoverfly, Volucella inanis.
The hoverfly, Volucella inanis, in our front garden.
31 July, 2017
This is yet another species, once restricted to England's southern counties, that is moving ever more northwards. One assumes this is a response to climate warming though it is not really safe to jump to conclusions.

I paused yet again to photograph the 'monster' at the end of Christchurch Drive. This whimsical creation has been constructed by the careful clipping of a hedge of Wilson's Honeysuckle, Lonicera nitida.
A monster of Wilson's Honeysuckle. Christchurch Drive, Daventry.
31 July, 2017
This shrub, native to Yunnan and adjacent regions of China, was brought over to this country by the famous plant hunter, Ernest 'Chinese' Wilson. Oddly enough, only five days ago I was in Chipping Campden, where a garden has been created in his memory. I don't think he visualised the plant being used in this way.
Anyway, I set off again. The Grange is not an area of beauty but has many distractions such as this clump of poppies, Papaver rhoeas. Yesterday commemoratives services were held to honour those who died or were injured at Passchendaele in World War One.
Papaver rhoeas, the poppy of 'Flanders Fields'. The Grange, Daventry.
31 July, 2017 
Poppies are rapid colonisers of disturbed ground and were quick to move in and exploit the newly created yet ghastly battlefield habitat. In Britain it is not a native plant but is classed as an archaeophyte, perhaps having been accidentally introduced to this country by neolithic farmers - but we may never know. The species is poisonous in all its parts due to the presence of rhoeadine and morphine. These are, of course, valuable alkaloids medicinally, having  sedative and antitussive effects. 
Another plant brightening up odd spaces was Nipplewort, Lapsana communis. Its cheerful yellow flowers are often ignored yet are worthy of a second glance. As the unopened flower buds resembled nipples the plant was used, in accordance with the 'doctrine of signatures' for the treatment of breast ulcers.
Nipplewort brightens an otherwise dull wall. The Grange, Daventry.
31 July, 2017
Most of its relatives have fruits bearing a feathery pappus - the dandelion is the obvious example - but although the nipplewort lacks pappi it is very successful in exploiting new opportunities and is abundant everywhere. The rather bitter leaves were once used in salads but rarely get a mention from Messrs Oliver, Lawson or Berry.
Nipplewort merits a closer look.

At this point I stopped to photograph a graceful tree near to The Stour (the local streets are named after English rivers). It was the common native Silver Birch. A.E.Housman wrote:
                              The loveliest of trees, the cherry now
                              Is hung with blossom along the bough.

Well, I wouldn't argue with that, but the cherry has long lost its blossom, surely leaving the Silver Birch supreme.
I still had a mile to go to Kentle Wood but in fact got no further. I took a rather casual sweep with my net through the birch foliage - and was staggered by the number of insect species taken.
What a graceful tree is the Silver Birch. The Grange, Daventry.
31 July, 2017
Bugs were particularly well represented (there were literally dozens of Parent Bugs) so I decided that Kentle Wood would have to wait for another day.

The Parent Bug, Elasmucha grisea, was abundant on a birch tree.
The area  has many trees, with oak, beech, ash, rowan, common lime, hornbeam, horse chestnut, aspen and sycamore present. There is too Red Oak, Quercus rubra, from the east of North America.
Red Oak has particularly attractive foliage. The Grange, Daventry.
31 July, 2017
I searched in vain for acorns and contented myself with leaves. Bearing in mind this variety of trees I should surely pay The Grange a little more attention.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Garden visitors

We probably get more than our fair share of invertebrate visitors, having deliberately introduced many plants attractive to bees and butterflies. Even so, there is a long way to go before our little plot can match the extraordinary wealth of species that have been found in the Leicester garden of Jennifer Owen.
Her remarkable book tells of the 2673 species she recorded, including 474 plants, and 1997 insects, four of which were new to science!
No. We have so far only found rather predictable organisms, but none the less interesting for that. Like the Small Tortoiseshell butterflies, Aglais urticae, here nectaring at Pratia pedunculata. This plant is a tiny member of the Bellflower Family, Campanulaceae, and is named after M. Prat-Bernon, a French naval officer.
Small Tortoiseshell butterfly nectaring at  Pratia pedunculata.
Stefen Hill, Daventry. 8 July, 2017
Tiny it may be, but this little Australian creeping plant features in the Royal Horticultural Society's list of 'plant thugs' - but I didn't know that when I popped it into the rock garden  - and now I spend lots of time pulling out unwanted bits. On the plus side, one very successful introduction has been  the Iranian Wood Sage, Teucrium hircanicum.
Teucrium hircanicum.  Bees almost queue for a space.
Stefen Hill, Daventry. 8 July, 2017
I have mentioned this plant in an earlier blog but it is a handsome member of the Mint Family with long purple racemes of flowers. It is native to the region once known as Hircania, now shared between Iran and Turkmenistan. Bees of various species are constantly visiting it.
Nearby, and more of a surprise was this Forest Bug, Pentatoma rufipes, clinging to a cordyline leaf. 
This Forest Bug was an unexpected garden visitor.
Stefen Hill, Daventry. 8 July, 2017
Its favourite habitat seems to be woodland edge or maybe a woodland clearing but it is a strong flier and there are plenty of wooded areas within a couple of hundred metres of our garden. The word 'rufipes' refers of course to the red legs and the orange femurs (or femora) are easy to see in the photograph, helping to identify it.
I suppose the word 'visitors' embraces certain weeds, particularly those whose seeds have drifted in on the wind. One such plant is Bristly Ox-tongue, Picris echioides.
Bristly Ox-tongue is hardly a thing of beauty. Stefen Hill, Daventry.
10 July, 2017
It is covered - leaves, stems, flower buds - with coarse prickles arising from white bases, making it unpleasant to handle.  I'll leave it for a few days to see if insects take an interest in it, but then it will have to go.
The prickles arise from swollen white bases.
Speaking of prickly plants, our Sea Hollies are doing well this year with Eryngium bourgatii, a member of the Carrot Family, Apiaceae, resembling a thistle rather than a carrot, even though the Sea Hollies are in the Carrot Family, Apiaceae. The spines may deter all but the hungriest of grazing animals but are no deterrent to insects such as this Marmalade Fly, Episyrphus balteatus.
Get in there! A Marmalade fly delves into an Eryngium flower head.
Stefen Hill, Daventry. 8 July, 2017
Rather few flies have been given truly vernacular names (although many have been given 'artificial' names in recent years) but this extremely common hoverfly is an exception, perhaps because of its distinctive appearance. Each segment of the abdomen's back (each tergite, that is) bears two black bands, one broad and the other much thinner, and is the only British hoverfly to have this patterning. These markings give the insect its specific name, balteatus being from the Latin word for a belt. It overwinters as an adult, but can it overwinter in the U.K? Certainly it migrates to this country, sometimes in vast numbers, but evidence of overwintering seems scant. However, with climate warming, who knows? 
Some plants - I have already mentioned the Bristly Ox-tongue - introduce themselves and sometimes cause puzzlement. A month or so ago I was weeding out a few undesirables from our front garden when I found something I couldn't identify. It looked vaguely familiar and yet...
What is it. Enigmatic wee plant in our front garden.
Stefen Hill, Daventry, 27 June, 2017
I decided to leave it alone and let it flower. Yesterday (29 July) the first flowers appeared and it turned out to be a St John's Wort. To be more precise it is Perforate St John's Wort, Hypericum perforatum, and is probably the commonest Hypericum in England; it probably came in on muddy shoes. This species, and other closely related ones, yields a powerful anti-depressant. The name refers to its traditional gathering to celebrate the eve of St John the Baptist on 23 June.
...and it turns out to be Perforate St John's Wort.
29 July, 2017
Although it has only just flowered in our garden the species has been in bloom for about a month around Daventry, where it occupies waste or scrubby ground. It is very common and has been known in Northamptonshire since 8 May, 1662, where it was apparently found by the famous botanist, John Ray, growing on the walls of Northampton Castle.
Now, having identified it, I'll remove it. Gardening can be brutal!


Tuesday, 25 July 2017

In a car park

I popped into Daventry today to collect Chris from the Air Ambulance charity shop where she does voluntary work every Tuesday morning. I parked up and glanced at the car dash, where the clock showed that it was far too early so I got out to stretch my legs and see what was to be seen.
I had parked hard by a lime tree and noticed that tiny (4-5 mm) bugs were running around on the foliage. They were Campyloneura virgula, not surprising as it is a very common bug on a range of deciduous trees. I smiled to myself as I recalled a little rhyme we would recite as kids when we were about eight years old:

                                 I chased a bug around a tree;
                                 I'll have his blood - 'e knows I will.

We would challenge each other to say this as fast as possible and then roar with laughter at the results. Happy, innocent times.
A Stag's Horn Sumach, Rhus typhina, grew a short distance away, its strange pink-brown inflorescence making it completely unmistakeable.
Stag's Horn Sumach in Daventry town centre. 25 July, 2017

I was astonished to read recently that these can be eaten. They are dried and then grated into a powder for sprinkling on various dishes. Well, it is related to pistachio nuts - but also to poison ivy!
Rather less common, but also growing nearby, was Red-berried Elder. We are all familiar with our native Elder, Sambucus nigra but this species, Sambucus racemosa, is not a British native although, in various forms, it is found right across the northern hemisphere.
Sambucus racemosa near Daventry Library. 25 July, 2017

Not surprisingly it often escapes from gardens and has become fairly well naturalised in places. Perhaps it has a place in the larger garden but, to me, it is a curious rather than a choice plant.
I walked across the car park to see and photograph a Red Admiral butterfly, Vanessa atalanta, as it basked on a leaf. In yesterday's blog I touched upon the subject of climate warming and this species has certainly been affected. Not so long ago it was here only as a result of large-scale migration. These migrants continue to arrive annually but more and more this lovely insect has been over-wintering (but don't tell the Daily Mail).
A Red Admiral butterfly enjoys the sun in Daventry town centre.
25 July, 2017
As I was admiring it I noticed a plant of False-acacia, Robinia pseudoacacia, growing nearby its twisted pods reminding us that it is a member of the pea family.
False-acacia pods were developing. Daventry
town centre.25 July, 2917

It is commonly planted in Daventry as elsewhere and this was a seedling which had found a congenial spot. The young branches bear spines (actually modified stipules), clearly as a deterrent to browsing animals, but on larger, well-established trees these spines seem to be absent. Perhaps a well-grown tree is not so vulnerable to a spot of browsing.
Young trees of False-acacia bear stout spines.
Daventry town centre. 25 July, 2017

Beekeepers doubtless welcome the presence of False-acacias in the neighbourhood for its white flowers are a valuable source of nectar. Although is native to North America, where it is known as the Locust Tree, it is now often to be seen on, for example, railway banks, where it has almost attained the status of a weed. It was once hoped that mature trees would be of value for timber but in fact it has turned out to be pretty useless.
Whoops! Time's up! Now to fetch Chris and get some lunch.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Borderline plants no more

The 'fake news' of climate warming is having some interesting consequences on wildlife and gardens. With seven European Bee Eaters, Merops apiaster, turning up in Yorkshire a few weeks ago and the steady march northwards of species such as the Wasp Spider, Argiope bruennichi, the False Widow Spider, Steatoda nobilis (now also cropping up in Yorkshire) and the Hornet Hoverfly, Volucella zonaria, occurring almost anywhere, this is an exciting time to be a naturalist.
I was reminded of this earlier today when walking home from our allotment. My route took me up Kingsley Avenue here in Daventry and I was delighted to see a strong-growing plant of the Trumpet Vine, Campsis radicans, trained against a brick wall.

Is it one plant or are there two? Kingsley Avenue, Daventry.
24 July, 2017
Nowadays it is not a very demanding plant, requiring only a sheltered wall and protection from very cold winds. Campsis grandiflora, the only other member of the genus, is rather similar in appearance but with flowers in drooping trusses; it demands similar conditions. I am surprised not to see it more often (perhaps I should grow it) because, barring a really severe frost, it should be safe.
The name Trumpet Vine is well-earned.
Nevertheless, twenty or thirty years ago, to grow this member of the Bignoniaceae outside London or away from the milder parts of Britain would have been a real risk. It hails from the south-eastern parts of the U.S.A. such as Virginia, where it is visited (and pollinated?) by hummingbirds.
The last two or three days have been showery and rather cool so when I arrived home I was pleasantly surprised to find our myrtle bush in flower. Myrtle, Myrtus communis, is theoretically less of a gamble than the Trumpet Vine but nevertheless some people have difficulty with it. It is described in Hilliers Manual of Trees and Shrubs as 'hardy in many localities, particularly by the sea'. The implication is that it is not fully hardy, particularly in inland localities.
Our Myrtle shrub has burst into bloom in the last 24 hours.
Stefen Hill, Daventry. 24 July, 2017
It is a Mediterranean species and I have frequently found it growing wild on rocky, scrub-covered hillsides. I have also seen a drink, made from the edible berries, for sale but have never been brave enough to sample it. The shrub has been a symbol of peace and love since classical times and it was sacred to Aphrodite, the Greek equivalent of the Roman Venus. In the wild it can make a large shrub up to five metres high; understandably more compact forms have been selected for garden use.
The plant gives its name to the Myrtaceae, a tropical and sub-tropical family found from Spain, across the middle east and southern Asia and over to Australia. The Bottlebrush shrubs (Callistemon species) and Eucalyptus are all members of this interesting group of plants.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Allotment insects

The morning has been wet and rather miserable, but it brightened up after lunch and I resolved to visit our allotment. By the time I got there the clouds had rolled away and it was getting distinctly hot and I was already working up a sweat even as I approached our plot.
A blackbird flew off with a chattering alarm call and I was a little surprised as it is a confiding cock bird that often works quite near to my feet. I then saw a cat slinking through the grass and all became clear. It glared at me for a moment and I was reminded of a passage by Lewis Carroll:

                                        'We're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad.'
                                        'How do you know I'm mad?' said Alice.

                                        'You must be,' said the cat,  'or you wouldn't have come here."

I had come to gather runner beans, mange-tout peas and a lettuce but I also intended to try and identify some of the insects on the plot, and maybe take a few photographs.
A Red-tailed Bumblebee investigates a dork form of Cornflower.
Drayton Allotments, Daventry. 20 July, 2017
Bees were busy on the scarlet flowers of the runner beans, including the Red-tailed Bumblebee, Bombus lapidarius, and the Buff-tailed Bumblebee, Bombus terrestris.
Also present, although only a singleton, was a very large bee I suspect was the Large Garden Bumblebee, Bombus ruderatus. It just seemed too large for anything else, being quite as big as the Buff-tailed Bumblebee and with an elongate form.
Bombus lapidarius on raspberry foliage. Drayton Allotments, Daventry.
20 July, 2017

A hoverfly sat motionless for some minutes on the leaf of a squash and seemed unperturbed when I leaned over for a photograph. It was Volucella pellucens, technically a  bumblebee mimic but not to me resembling any obvious species except possibly the Garden Bumblebee, Bombus hortorum.
A hoverfly, Volucella pellucens, on a squash leaf. Drayton Allotments,
Daventry. 20 July, 2017
A Common Wasp, Vespula vulgaris, was zig-zagging around in a sinister manner, doubtless looking for a juicy grub to take away but I suspect it would ignore the Cinnabar caterpillars on a neighbouring plot. They were feeding on Groundsel, Senecio vulgaris, and their bodies would be laced with toxic alkaloids to an extent that few creatures will attempt to eat them. In fact the bold warning stripes resembled those of the wasp.
Cinnabar caterpillar on groundsel at Drayton Allotments, Daventry.
20 July, 2017
Hoverflies cheat. They too wear the yellow and black stripes but they would surely be perfectly palatable to any bird prepared to take a gamble. As it is, this male Syrphus ribesii can feel reasonably safe in its mimicry. 
Syrphus ribesii loafing on foliage. Drayton Allotments, Daventry.
20 July, 2017

The quantity of invertebrate life was mildly encouraging and diptera - two-winged flies - were present in large numbers. I suspect that nowadays few allotment holders use pesticides except as a very last resort. Netting is now the answer to a wide range of problems and wildlife generally is the beneficiary. The message is getting across!



Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Leafcutter Bees

I grow very few roses so when I find signs of damage I like to establish the cause. One rose I'm particularly fond of is Ferdinand Pichard, so when I found neat, semi-circular holes at the leaf edges I was a little vexed.
Ferdinand Pichard, a flamboyant and richly fragrant rose.
Our garden at Stefen Hill, Daventry. 19 July, 2017

Not that I was surprised because the culprit is very widespread: it was a leafcutter bee and almost certainly the work of Megachile centuncularis. This is probably the commonest species in gardens and was certainly present in our previous garden in Byfield.
The females cut out pieces of leaf and bear them back to their nest. This leaf portion is then used in the construction of neat cells which are filled with a mixture of nectar and pollen - plus an egg.

Neat, semi-circular hole sin rose leaves are the work of leafcutter bees.
Stefen Hill, Daventry. 19 July, 2017
I have found similar semi-circular shapes cut into the leaves of our Solanum crispum, and I again suspect the work of leafcutter bees.

A few days ago, at Daventry Country Park, I was photographing a specimen on thistle heads. It was collecting both nectar and pollen, and the latter is gathered in a rather unusual way. Most bumblebees collect pollen in a sac on the hindlegs but Megachile species eschew this method. Instead the underside of the abdomen is covered in specialised hairs, to which the pollen clings.
A Megachile species working at a thistle head.
Daventry Country Park. 16 July, 2017
Eventually the whole of the ventral side will be covered in pollen, although it must be said that the hairs along the margins of the abdomen can be naturally cream or white. I made no attempt to catch or identify the Megachile in question and there are seven species known from the British Isles.
Another view of the same specimen.
The genus is a huge one, with over 1,500 species across the world, and includes the world's largest bee, Megachile pluto. Incidentally, this species, with a wingspan of over sixty millimetres (2.5 inches) was believed to be extinct until being rediscovered in 1981. And yes, it has a very painful sting!

Daventry Country Park (2)

My previous blog told of a visit I made to the edge of Daventry Country Park. I mentioned 'a fine display of wild flowers' but gave few details. Today I revisited the area, again in search of invertebrates but paying a little more attention to the flora.
Perhaps most obvious were clumps of Common Ragwort, Jacobaea vulgaris. If the Latin name seems unfamiliar it is not surprising because since my childhood it has been Senecio vulgaris and is just one of a host of 'Senecios' to undergo a recent name-change.
It is generally hated by farmers on the grounds that it is toxic to horses although in my opinion this attitude is unjustified. Horses generally leave the plant well alone and cases of horse fatalities seem quite rare. Nevertheless it is subject to vigorous provisions under the Ragwort Control Act, 2003. It is a popular species with entomologists, providing nectar to  large numbers of interest as well as being well-known as the food-plant of the Cinnabar moth.
Creeping Thistle, Cirsium arvense, was prolific, with some flower heads (capitula) being pure white. This very pale example is here being visited by a Gatekeeper, Pyronia tithonus, so-named perhaps because it works its way along hedgerows, apparently going from gate to gate. Oddly, the thistle is another species subject to control by law.
A Gatekeeper butterfly visits Creeping Thistle.
Daventry Country Park. 18 July, 2017
The first two plants are clearly serious weeds, but what of Yarrow, Achillea millefolium? It can occasionally present a problem but generally it is easily controlled and many insect species rely on it to a considerable degree. Its red and pink varieties are popular garden plants. Here at the edge of Daventry Country Park it was prolific, but not in any way a problem - and much appreciated by skipper butterflies. 'Yarrow leaves', according to Adele Nozedar in The Hedgerow Handbook,' (2012) are good in mixed salads; a little lemon juice and sugar really helps to bring out the flavour'. Perhaps I should be a little more adventurous!
Yarrow seems to be popular with butterflies, and here a skipper pays a call.
Daventry Country Park. 18 July, 2017
Some willow herbs can be weeds but the Great Willow Herb, Epilobium hirsutum, is rarely a problem. It tends to occur in damp ground, including river and lake margins; here it was in ground currently very dry and the flowers were almost over. It was only getting an occasional visit from insects, an exception being the bug, Dicyphus epilobii, which was very common on the foliage.
Great Willow Herb at Daventry Country Park.
18 July, 2017

This is the food plant for the caterpillar of the Elephant Hawkmoth, Deilephila elpenor, and I kept my eyes open for its presence - with no luck. Perforate St John's Wort, Hypericum perforatum, was present, as was Ox-eye Daisy, but one of the most eye-catching was Tufted Vetch, Vicia cracca. Sprawling and untidy? Yes. Common? Yes. But a lovely and undervalued plant. And the bees appreciate it too.
Tufted Vetch scrambled through other herbs. Daventry Country Park.
18 July, 2017
Finally I must mention the Meadow Crane's-bill, Geranium pratense. It was reported from the 'New Reservoir, Daventry' in 1843 by William Notcutt - and was still there today! It was inaccessible behind a dense barrier of brambles, and I only managed an unsatisfactory photograph.

Meadow Cranesbill: always pleasing to see.
Daventry Country Park. 18 July, 2017
It is a beautiful plant in its own right, but its hybrid with Geranium himalayense is the very popular 'Johnson's Blue'.
With all these flowers present it was not surprising that I recorded a wide range of insects and the area may well receive a third visit in, perhaps, early autumn.


Friday, 14 July 2017

Daventry Country Park (1)

Daventry Country Park is within comfortable walking distance of where I live  - perhaps no more than a mile and a half away - and so it is surprising how infrequently I pay it a visit. Today I went there intending to have a stroll around the large lake - a former reservoir - which forms the main feature, looking at the margins and seeking invertebrates that enjoy wet conditions.
As it happens I never made it as far as the lake.
I entered the Country Park, not via the main car park, but from the south west corner and was immediately confronted by a lovely little patch of rough ground with a fine display of wild flowers. There were insects to be seen everywhere. A Six-spot Burnet Moth, Zygaena filipendulae, was busy at a thistle head and was still there three quarters of an hour later. Each thistle head consists of a hundred or so florets so I suppose when the moth had got to the last one it could start again at number one!
A Six-spot Burnet feeds at Creeping Thistle. Daventry Country Park.
14 July, 2017
The burnet moths resemble butterflies in being diurnal fliers and were, it seems, a puzzle to early entomologists, who seemed to regard them as half-way between moths and butterflies.
In my blog a couple of days ago I was scratching my head over a footman moth and today I found myself with the same problem. However I am confident that today's specimen was a Common Footman, Eilema lurideola.
A Common Footman dropped into my upturned umbrella.
Daventry Country Park. 14 July, 2017
Coloration, wing-shape and the form of the yellow wing margin lead me to this conclusion - plus the fact that this species is ubiquitous.
An experienced lepidopterist would probably have little hesitation in naming this skipper but when it comes to these insects I admit to being a tyro. However, there is no sign of a black tip to the antennae so I am reasonably certain that it is a female Small Skipper, Thymelicus flavus, here on a head of yarrow.

A Small Skipper on Yarrow at Daventry Country Park.
14 July, 2017
Plenty of Bumblebees were around and so too was one of their major enemies, the conopid fly Physocephala rufipes.
Physocephala rufipes, taken at Daventry Country Park. 14 July, 2017

This odd-looking insect is parasitic on a range of bumblebee species, seizing a victim and laying its eggs directly on to the abdomen of the unfortunate host. In his booklet on the species Kenneth Smith writes: '...females wait on nearby vegetation and attack foraging bees with a very quick strike when both bee and fly may roll on the ground together in a violent struggle'. Some conopid bee species in the U.S.A. attack hive bees and may cause significant losses. The usual conopid fly I see is the very wasp-like Conops quadrifasciatus so this was an interesting record. (There is a very good photograph of this fly on page 315 of Peter Marren and Richard Mabey's 2010 book Bugs Britannica but I believe the caption may be wrong.)
I didn't spend all my time looking at insects and, strolling around the area, I found that some leaves on Alder, Alnus glutinosa, had been seriously disfigured by galls.
Leaves of alder were disfigured with the galls of a mite,
Eriophyes laevis. Daventry Country Park. 14 July, 2017
The culprit was a mite, Eriophyes laevis. This is widespread in the south and midlands of England. Does it attack the widely-planted Grey Alder? I'm not sure: I'll keep my eyes open. 

Thursday, 13 July 2017

July in Kentle Wood

The number of invertebrates present but not yet recorded in Kentle Wood must run into hundreds or even thousands so in order to track down a few more I used a different technique on today's visit. I have used an umbrella when beating bushes on previous occasions, but not for a long time.
The 'Dunlop' advert is not obligatory
For rather obvious reasons white is the most effective colour and its usage soon brought results, a Forest Bug, Pentatoma rufipes, dropping into the umbrella with a gentle thud. Not a new species for Kentle Wood, but it was a promising start.
Forest Bug in my brolly at Kentle Wood, Daventry. 12 July, 2017
A few yards further on and a Southern Oak Bush Cricket, Meconema meridionale, was taken. This is a new record for the wood and in fact was first recorded in Britain as recently as 2001. Since then it has spread rapidly and had reached Nottinghamshire by 2012. By the end of the afternoon I had noted several specimens. I also took a specimen of the Speckled Bush Cricket, Leptophyes punctatissima.

Southern Oak Bush Cricket. Kentle Wood, Daventry.
13 July, 2017
Traditionally springtime is the mating season - but tell that to insects!  The Common Froghopper, Philaenus spumarius, is very well known, if only for the mass of froth it forms on a range of plants. Children are always delighted when told that the froth is formed by the insect blowing bubbles from its bum!

A mating pair of the very variable Common Froghopper.
Kentle Wood, Daventry. 12 July, 2017
It is an extremely variable insect and the photograph shows two contrasting forms mating. It is obviously pointless attempting to identify this species by its colour for even bright purple forms are known; shape, size and various structural features must be studied.
Almost every thistle head had attracted specimens of the very common beetle, Rhagonycha fulva, and most seemed to have found a mate. They are best known for using Hogweed umbels as a meeting place but it is clear from this photograph that Creeping Thistle is a very acceptable substitute.
Mating pairs of Rhagonycha fulva, aka Hogweed Bonking Beetle.
Kentle Wood, Daventry. 12 July, 2017
Harvestmen rarely get a mention in my blogs but these relatives of spiders are of great interest - or at least I think so - and deserve space. Many seem to reach maturity towards the end of summer, eg, harvest time, and I took three species. Among the commonest were specimens of the long-legged Dicranopalpus ramosus.
Dicranopalpus ramosus. Kentle Wood, Daventry.
12 July, 2017
The word 'ramosus' means 'branching' and in this case refers to the palps. The palps look like an extra pair of legs at the front of the animal and, as the photograph shows, these appear to be forked due to the development of an apophysis - a branch usually small or non-existent but very obvious in this species.

The enlarged photograph shows details of its unusual palps.
My knowledge of moths is sketchy in places and when it comes to footman moths my limitations become obvious. I am fairly certain that this is a Dingy Footman, Eilema griseola, but I won't submit the record.
Dingy Footman? Perhaps, but it's not my bag.
Kentle Wood, Daventry. 12 July, 2017
Finally, a grotesque creature that dropped into my umbrella just before I set out for home. I must confess that I was a little taken aback when it landed with a gentle plop. What on earth? It was clearly something capable of a nasty bite!
It was, of course, the withered remains of a rose hip and I gently returned it to the ground beneath the briars. I was clearly hallucinating. Time to go home for a cuppa...