Thursday, 25 April 2019

From aphids to bees

I took a chance and visited Stefen Hill Pocket Park even though the wind was very blustery with lots of cloud cover. In fact I needn't have worried; insects were very plentiful even though the first located was not really an insect as such.

An orange-red bulge on the edge of a hawthorn leaf betrayed the presence of Dysaphis crataegi. This 'species' of aphid is in fact a complex group of closely related species requiring identification by an expert. I am content to leave it as D. crataegi. Part of its life is spent on hawthorn (the primary host) and it then moves to a secondary host, which can be any one of several members of the carrot family such as Cow Parsley, abundant in the pocket park.

The aphids are concealed, safe from birds, in this leaf roll.
Stefen Hill Pocket Park,Daventry. 25 April, 2019

On a previous visit I had attempted to obtain a decent photograph of a Holly Blue butterfly but with little success.. This time I found a co-operative specimen that posed for me on a beech leaf. The Common Blue butterfly is far more likely to be found in meadowland but this Holly Blue was in a well-wooded area.

This Holly Blue co-operated by spreading its wings. Stefen Hill
 Pocket Park, Daventry. 25 April, 2019
I an always reluctant to harm bees so as far as possible I rely upon photographs. This specimen was visiting Horse Chestnut blossom and I am content that it is a Tree Bumblebee, Bombus hypnorum. This is a remarkable species in that it was first recorded in Britain as recently as 2001. By 2013 it had reached Scotland and had crossed to the Isle of Mull by 2014. Nowadays it is common in parks, gardens, allotments, hedgerows, orchards and so on.

A Tree Bumblebee pays a visit to Horse Chestnut flowers.
Stefen Hill Pocket Park, Daventry. 25 April, 2019

A month ago the Hawthorn Shieldbug was nowhere to be seen - or at least, I couldn't find it. Now it is to be seen everywhere although its camouflage is very effective and it can easily be overlooked.
The pointed 'shoulders' of the Hawthorn Shieldbug help to make it
easily recognisable. Stefen Hill Pocket Park.. 25 April, 2019
It is associated not just with hawthorn but many of its relatives such as rowan, cotoneaster, whitebeam and so on - all members of the Rose Family, Rosaceae.

A doubtful day turned out to be rather productive and the list of species known from the park now approaches the hundred mark.

Tony White.  E-mail:

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