Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Yet another Daventry walk

Bright, warm sunshine today encouraged me to walk into Daventry. There are always jobs to be done. My walk took me past Danetre Hospital (Danetre, along with Daventrei and Daivintre, is an old name for the town) and a largish Lawson's Cypress occupies a position near the entrance. Unsurprisingly a Juniper Shieldbug, Cyphostethus tristriatus, superbly camouflaged, was on the foliage. Unsurprising for 2018 perhaps, but this would have been a real puzzle fifty years ago when this bug was a rare insect found only on juniper in Surrey and perhaps one or two adjacent counties.

Juniper Shieldbug on Lawson's Cypress. Danetre Hospital, Daventry.
I was indeed surprised when I found a paler specimen on a beech tree a couple of hundred yards further on. There were more Lawson's Cypresses nearby and I think it had simply suffered a satnav error.
A specimen on beech was clearly confused. I recommended 'The Hamlyn
Guide to the Trees of Britain & Europe' but it treated my suggestion
 with disdain.

I have recently mentioned the knopper gall in my blogs. Caused by the wasp, Andricus quercuscalicis, it is generally found on the acorn cup. On an oak in Daventry today I found an example where five of these galls were present on the same cup and had coalesced to form a very odd structure.

A quintet of knopper galls had coalesced on this oak in Daventry.
25 September, 2018
To the rear of our local Tesco supermarket stands a Cedar of Lebanon, Cedrus libani. Currently it is a particularly fine sight for the sweeping lower branches are adorned with hundreds of cones.

Even when young a Cedar of Lebanon is a fine sight.
Daventry. 25 September, 2018
They are the male cones and a closer examination shows that their pale yellow pollen is currently exposed, eventually to be carried away in the wind. Once the pollen has been dispersed these cones will fall to the ground, their task complete.

Pollen was clinging to the male cones. A dry day and a brisk wind
and they will be swept away.
Many people are puzzled by the strange larval forms of ladybirds. With practice they can be identified but one specimen made me pause for thought although I should not have been surprised. It was a Harlequin Ladybird, Harmonia axyridis. The adult (imago) is extremely variable and this larva simply had yellow patches on the abdomen rather than the brick-red with which I am more familiar.

The larva of a Harlequin Ladybird. The transformation into the adult form is
something we often take for granted but it really is astonishing.
Daventry. 25 September, 2018
As usual the walk was of far more interest than the shops, despite all their blandishments.

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