Sunday, 22 July 2018

Three hundred up!

A visit to Foxhill Farm today resulted in the finding of several new species, pushing the site total for invertebrates beyond the 300 mark.

The actual 300th species was the sheet-web building spider. Agelena labyrinthica. The spider is large and so too is its web. Even through a veil of web the chevron-like markings can be seen on the abdomen; also the rather prominent spinners at the tip of the abdomen.
Agelena labyrinthica is a top  predator in the world of mini-beasts.
Foxhill Farm, Badby. 22 July, 2018
This is a powerful and fierce creature and woe betide any insect falling into the labyrinthine sheet web. The spider is lightning-fast and will seize the unfortunate victim and haul it down through a tunnel into its retreat, there to be consumed.

Rather less dramatic were several insects whose larvae produce characteristic features on leaves. One of these - widespread and occurring in Byfield Pocket Park - is the Hawthorn Button-top Gall, Dasineura crataegi. It causes the leaves at the shoot-tip to become distorted, often forming a rosette of misshapen, frequently reddish bunch.

A bunch of distorted leaves at the tip of a branch is the work of the
Hawthorn Button-top Gall. Foxhill Farm. 22 July, 2018
The Firethorn Leaf-miner, Phyllonorycter leucographella is, as the name suggests, a frequent pest of Firethorn but will attack other plants including, in this case, hawthorn. First found in Britain in 1989  this tiny moth has spread rapidly and the blister mine formed by the larve is very familiar to anyone who goes around scrutinising Firethorn leaves, i.e. about 90% of the population.

The distinctive mine of the Firethorn Leaf-miner. On hawthorn at
Foxhill Farm. 22 July, 2018
Many butterflies were on the wing including many Small Whites, Pieris rapae. I was pleased to find also one or two Large Whites. Pieris brassicae. The former is abundant - ask any allotment holder or market gardener - but the latter has apparently declined in recent years, though still common enough.

A Large White takes nectar from bramble flowers. Foxhill Farm.
22 July, 2018
Looking for other creatures I grovelled around in the grass tussocks, burned to a crisp in this relentless sun we are 'enjoying' but found far less that would be normal for late July.
The hedgerows were only a little better but I did find Hops, Humulus lupulus, weaving through hawthorn. Hops are dioecious, i.e. male and female flowers are on separate plants but I only found the male. Perhaps I'll find a female with its cone like fruiting heads if I make a further search.

A male plant of hops scrambles through a hedge at Foxhill Farm.
22 July, 2018
Hops belong to the Cannabis Family, Cannabaceae, although why I bother to mention this I have no idea.

To finish off, I mentioned a few days ago the wing-patterning of the Tephritidae - the Picture-winged Flies. This is Anomoia purmunda, swept from a hawthorn bush today. Not a very good picture I know but the insect is only 3mm long and hopefully shows the odd wing pattern on this particular species. It is sometimes called the Spectacled Berry Fly.
Anomoia purmunda. Swept from hawthorn at Foxhill Farm, Badby.
22 July, 2018

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