Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Below Newnham Windmill

To the west of Newnham windmill the ground drops away steeply, with clumps of woodland clinging to the slopes. To the north lie hay meadows, upon which I've been concentrating recently.
The grass is now knee-deep despite large quantities of Yellow Rattle theoretically reducing their vigour with their semi-parasitic mode of existence. As mentioned in a previous blog, there is a considerable amount of Pignut, Conopodium majus, and with this is associated the Chimney Sweeper Moth, Odezia atrata, for which Pignut is the larval food-plant. It is not the most exciting of moths, with its drab grey-black wings tipped with white but I was pleased to see it because, although it is still reasonable common, its food-plant has diminished in range - and with it, this moth.
The Chimney Sweeper is associated with Pignut.
Foxhill Farm, Badby. 18 June, 2018
The meadow plants include Common Sorrel, Rumex acetosa. This relative of dock plants is poisonous to stock in large quantities due to the presence of oxalic acids but when dried for hay the toxicity is presumably reduced or disappears. Here and there were bright red-purple leaves but I have not yet established the cause of this. A moth creates a similar effect but of this there was no sign.
This reddening of a sorrel leaf could be down to a virus.
Foxhill Farm. 18 June, 2018
However I did recognise the agent causing galling on the edge of hawthorn leaves in the hedgerow. This is the work of a mite, Phyllocoptes goniothorax, and is a widespread but apparently harmless affliction. Other species of Phyllocoptes affect violets, ash trees, apples, hazel and so on.
The mite, Phyllocoptes goniothorax, causes a roll-like gall on hawthorn.
Foxhill Farm, Badby, Northants. 18 June, 2018
The most interesting finding of today's visit was a specimen of the Band-eyed Brown Horsefly, Tabanus bromius. There are larger species of Tabanus, with Tabanus bovinus reaching a length of almost an inch, but I was well-pleased with this find. It is widespread in southern England but is less common in Northamptonshire.

Not a colourful insect but the Band-eyed Brown Horsefly is quite an
impressive fly. Foxhill Farm, 18 June, 2018
This brings the number of invertebrates recorded on Foxhill Farm this year to 249 but this total should more than double eventually.

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