Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Byfield in October

Chris and I moved into Byfield about fourteen years ago and I have spent countless hours strolling around the village (someone has to do it). Yet when I set out for a twenty-minute stroll around there earlier today I knew there would be things of interest to note.

First up, Beckett's Close where, on the corner was a shrub I didn't recognise. It was clearly a Buddleia (see note) and probably a hybrid. Beyond that I couldn't go.

Buddleja 'Morning Mist' on the corner of Beckett's Close, Byfield.
17 October, 2018

Once home I did a bit of cutting-edge research and found that it was Buddleja 'Morning Mist', a hybrid of B. crispa and B. loricata. The former is native to Nepal, Afghanistan and adjacent countries whilst the latter is a South African species. There are about 140 species of Buddleja around the world so we can expect hybridists to be busy for quite a few decades.

I have, from time to time, seen a wasp become ensnared in a spider's web and sometimes the spider drops rapidly to the ground, apparently deciding that caution is the better part of valour. However, on a shrub, also in Beckett's Close, a specimen of the Garden Cross Spider, Araneus diadematus, had given the coup de grace to two wasps. One victim was  German Wasp, Vespula germanica, but the other was so well wrapped in its silken winding sheet that it was unidentifiable.

A female Araneus diadematus has caught two wasps, either of which could have killed it. Beckett's Close, Byfield.
17 October, 2018
Female spiders are generally identified by examining part of the sex organs known as the epigyne. Here the epigyne, pale amber coloured and looking oddly like a penis, can be seen in the centre of the picture. With tiny 'money spiders', perhaps only about two millimetres in length, this organ can be tricky to see properly.

A close-up of the ventral (under) side of the abdomen showing the epigyne.
I moved on to The Brightwell recreation area, named after a well-to-do local farmer who gave the land to the village. Trees of Common Lime had some of their leaves thickly covered - encrusted almost - in galls. Many galls can be found on lime trees but these were the work of a mite, Eriophyes tiliae. Unsightly though they are, the tree seems to suffer no ill effects.

Galls on Common Lime. They are the work of a mite,
Eriophyes tiliae. Byfield, 17 October, 2018
Nearby stood a Lombardy Poplar, a fastigiate form of Black Poplar, and it was also having its leaves attacked. This time the culprit was a tiny moth, Stigmella trimaculella. Known as the Black-poplar Pigmy, it is found over much of Britain - and much of Europe come to that.

Black-poplar Pigmy is a common micro-moth. Here its mines are on
 the leaves of 'Lombardy' Poplar. Byfield, 17 October, 2018
Quite overcome by all the heady excitement I made my way to the tennis club, where I knew a mug of hot coffee would be offered.

Note  Buddleia is the popular name for Buddleja. It is apparently named after the Reverend Adam Buddle, vicar of Farmbridge in Essex, although I have read that it was named after a London apothecary of the same name. Perhaps the Reverend dabbled in drugs as a side-line.

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