Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Allotment tasks

Having yesterday gathered a considerable load of fallen leaves I visited the allotment today to drop them off. The ground has been cleared and everything looked lifeless. Of course that was far from the case.

We have placed a series of stepping-stones leading up to the compost heap and being an inquisitive person I lifted some in the hope of finding some ground beetles. Beetles were there none but a couple of centipedes were revealed. Most of us are familiar with the fast-moving bright chestnut Lithobius forficatus, common in our gardens and a formidable hunter of other invertebrates, but the two I had exposed are probably far commoner though their habitat beneath stones makes them less obvious.

The centipedes I had revealed were both specimens of Geophilus flavus. We often grumble about name-changes in both botany and zoology, but the former name for this species was Necrophloeophagus longicornis. I think we can all agree that this was a name change for the better! Species of this type, generally known as Geophilomorphids, probably feed on nematodes and other tiny soil-dwelling creatures. A curious feature of these creatures is the ability to move backwards as easily as forwards, making them quite elusive when being photographed.

Geophilus flavus, a common centipede. Drayton Allotments, Daventry.
6 November, 2018
Dozens of woodlice, 99% of which were Porcellio scaber, were beneath the stones and on fences there were a few flies. But at this point the sun chose to duck behind some clouds and the flies miraculously disappeared. I turned my attention to plants.

Many of the plot-holders were growing celery and most of the plants I checked were bearing blotches on their leaves. This is the work of a picture-winged fly, Euleia heraclei, or rather their larvae. Although the leaf-mines created by the larvae are common I only occasionally capture an adult.

Celery leaves had been mined by Euleia heraclei. Drayton Allotments,
Daventry. 6 November, 2018

So, forlorn though the plots appear there is life, if not in abundance at least there if you look for it. In the next two or three days I'll be making a sowing of broad beans and it will be a surprise if nothing of interest should be found.

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