Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Galls and damsels

A spare hour - what to do? Predictably I strolled over to Stefen Hill Pocket Park, enjoying the warm sunshine. Time was when this weather would be welcomed:

              Rejoice! O English hearts, rejoice! O lovers dear!
              Rejoice! O City, town and country. Rejoice, eke every shire!
                For now the fragrant flowers do sprout and spring in seemly sort,
               The little birds do sit and sing, the lambs do make fine sport....

                                    The Knight of the Burning Pestle,  Beaumont and Fletcher

But now we worry. Is this going to be another scorching summer, another step down the road to planetary catastrophe?

However, this wasn't at the front of my mind as I worked my way along a hedgerow of hawthorn, field maple and dogwood. Only mid-May but the mite, Aceria myriadeum, was already causing a rash of  pimples on the acer leaves.

The galls of Aceria myriadeum seem to be found wherever Field Maple
is found. Stefen Hill Pocket Park, 14 May, 2019
This is extremely common and field maples are 'a martyr to it', as my gran would have said. Fortunately it seems to do no significant harm.

Damsel Flies were dashing around...

On the dogwood leaves  damselfly rested before dashing off with a potential partner. The Common Blue and the Azure Damselflies are very similar. In this specimen the blue stripes on the top of the thorax are narrower than the dark stripes and the dark markings on the second abdominal segment are forming a 'U' shape. I believe it is an Azure Damselfly, Coenagrion puella, but I am open to correction. It is not as abundant as the Common Blue but is nevertheless very common.

… and they appeared to be Azure Damselflies. Stefen Hill Pocket Park.
14 May, 2019

Having found a Mottled Umber, Erannis defoliaria, caterpillar yesterday I repeated the trickI once again beat one from a hawthorn bush but put it safely back on the foliage (where a hungry bird will doubtless find it).

And, once again, Mottled Umber caterpillars were munching through
hawthorn leaves.
The adult females are wingless and theoretically this could limit the distribution of this insect, but it seems to be found everywhere.

Barely an hour but I returned home well pleased with my haul. Being forced to check my facts regarding damselflies I felt somehow rather pleased to be still learning at my time of life. 

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