Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Still dry

I visited the Area below Newnham Windmill today and, following very heavy rain in the last forty-eight hours, I was expecting conditions to be rather wet. In fact the soil was no more than damp and we will need a lot more rain to fall before there is any significant change.

The insect life of Foxhill Farm should soon respond to the conditions and a number of interesting insects including the parasitic fly Phasia obesa were found. Dock Bugs, Coreus marginatus, were evident before the rain as docks, with their deep tap roots were only marginally affected by the drought.

Dock bugs are not technically shieldbugs but are generally treated as such.
Foxhill Farm. 13 August, 2018

A brilliantly coloured nymph of another bug, Troilus luridus, was also present. This is an active predator and will feed on small grubs and soft-bodied insects, piercing them with a syringe-like rostrum and sucking out the fluids.

Triolus luridus is a true shieldbug. Foxhill Farm, Badby, Northants
I laid my net on the ground to inspect a length of hawthorn hedging and a specimen of the Roesel's Bush Cricket, Metrioptera roeselii, leapt upon it, clearly keen to be recorded. I had to break the news to it that I had noted it some weeks before. It hopped away, a disgruntled look on its face.

Keen to be photographed was this female Roesel's Bush Cricket.
Foxhill Farm, 13 August, 2018
A tatty, much-perforated leaf of Creeping Thistle betrayed the presence of a moth, Coleophora peribenanderi.

I am bound to admit that neither the moth, known rather clumsily as the Pale Thistle Case-bearer, or the photograph itself, are very exciting but in truth, although there were lots of insects about they were largely tiny, non-photogenic creatures.

A much-perforated thistle leaf was the work of the Pale Thistle Case
Bearer moth. Foxhill Farm. 13 August, 2018
I was pleased to find a thicket of Spindle, Euonymus europaeus, in an area I had not visited before. The four-lobed fruits are very poisonous to humans, containing glycosides, and causing vomiting, convulsions and loss of consciousness.

They have yet to fully ripen but once they have attained their lovely sealing-wax red coloration they will be eagerly sought by birds.

Spindle fruits are not yet ripe. Foxhill Farm. 13 August, 2018

The fruits were once baked, powdered and used to treat head lice. How efficacious this treatment was I have no idea.

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