Sunday, 30 June 2019

The Cinnabar

Most people are familiar with the Cinnabar Moth, Tyria jacobaeae. No. Perhaps I should re-word that: most people of my generation are familiar with it. In my childhood it was abundant but now, although remaining common, I see relatively few examples.

It is a striking insect in its bold black and red colours. These are a warning: noli me tangere - touch me not!  Apparently the red colour is occasionally replaced by yellow but I have never seen this.

On of our most striking moths, the Cinnabar. Here on our allotment plot.
in early June, 2019

Although there are rare records from Coltsfoot, the caterpillar feeds almost exclusively on ragwort and groundsel, two plants which are laced with particularly toxic chemicals and which, despite silly alarmist stories* from people who are keen to drench our countryside with yet more pesticides, are generally avoided by livestock, rarely cause illness and almost never result in their deaths.

Cinnabar is probably best known as a source of mercury, but the moth is named after the oxide from which a red pigment was created and once used by artists in their paints.

On our allotment plot the moths have been flitting around for some weeks now but, as I try to keep the ground free of weeds, there has been no groundsel on which they could lay their eggs. Until today...

A solitary specimen was feeding on a groundsel seedling. Slim pickings indeed! (The seedling with a reddish stem directly to the left is Fat Hen.) Naturally I left the caterpillar undisturbed since the species merits the gardener's protection for the good work it does.
The first one of the year. Cinnabar caterpillar on our allotment,
30 June, 2019

The groundsel contains unpleasant toxins which are then stored in the caterpillar's body, hence warning colours, in this case black and yellow. They remain in the insect when it pupates for metamorphosis to the adult (imago) stage. As a consequence of the dangers to would-be predators both the larva and the imago are rarely attacked, although it is said that some cuckoo species will take the caterpillars.

* A parallel exists with stories spread by irresponsible journalists regarding the 'danger' of the False Widow spider which, although there may be people with a rare reaction to a bite,  generally causes no problem. I note that the Asian 'Killer Hornet' is now getting the same sensationalist treatment.

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

A walk in the park

Today has been cloudy, cool and breezy. Not a great day for late June but I was in Byfield so I decided to go for it - a walk in the pocket park.

A surprising number of insects were about, not visiting flowers but hanging about as though waiting for the sun to put in an appearance. Some died waiting...

Only the tattered remains of a moth, but enough to identify as a
 Hebrew Character. Byfield Pocket Park, 26 June, 2019
It was a Hebrew Character, Orthosia gothica, sometime called Setaceous Hebrew Character. Or half of it. But this ubiquitous moth was not on the list for the site. (It is now!)

A good percentage of the insects about were bugs - true bugs that is, not hospital bugs or computer software bugs. One decided that my hand would be a safe place to rest. And it was too, for having photographed it I blew it away.
Surprisingly, Grypocoris stysi has no common name, despite being a
common bug. Byfield Pocket Park, 26 June, 2019

It was Grypocoris stysi, aka Calocoris stysi, a rather attractive bug.  If you come across it in the garden then leave it: it feeds on aphids. It was on the list.

I normally find the hoverfly Volucella pellucens on flowers, but it too seemed to be waiting for some sun. The Pellucid Hoverfly is a common insect but it is surprising how often it crops up on Facebook, with people asking, 'What is it?' The bold white bar across the abdomen is frequently split into two halves by a black line.

The 'common name' of Volucella pellucens is the Pellucid Hoverfly, but in
fact no one really calls it that. Byfield Pocket park, 26 June, 2019

Black Knapweed, Centaurea nigra, otherwise known as Hardheads, was in flower but unusually it too had no insect visitors. It frequently attracts what are known as Picture-winged Flies - but not today.

Black Knapweed. Very common and valuable for the insects it attracts.
Byfield Pocket Park. 26 June, 2019

The only insect nearby was this tortricid moth. It may be Zeiraphera isertana, a very common moth found right across Asia and Europe from China to Britain. But this is a tricky group and I am not confident or experienced enough to claim it for the pocket park.

A tortricid moth - and that is as far as I got.

Anyway, it is not the most exciting or colourful insect and sometimes you just have to walk away. So I did.

Monday, 24 June 2019

With Chris and Lynda to Kentle Wood

The atmosphere was heavy and the sky a sullen grey. We were going to have rain. But Chris and I, together with our good friend Lynda Moran, are made of stern stuff and were undaunted. We had decided to pay a visit to Kentle Wood and, as Lynda and Chris are relatively unfamiliar with it, I tagged along.

Our first aim was to have a look at a flourishing patch of orchids that I'd first noticed about three years ago. Last year they were doing very well but today they proved a disappointment. I counted just seven spikes, half of last year's total, and it may be that the site is becoming too overgrown and shaded. Should I re-visit the area armed with a pair of secateurs?

Having walked perhaps three quarters of a mile with my companions I left them to walk and natter and strolled off to look more closely at the wildlife.

An ash tree was carrying a gall, rather smaller than a golf ball, caused by the mite, Aceria fraxinivora. The knobbly shape has led to this growth being known as the Cauliflower Gall.

Cauliflower Galls were common last year. This is the only one I've seen
so far in 2019. Kentle Wood, Daventry. 24 June, 2019
Hogweed is flourishing at Kentle Wood, as it is everywhere, and was attracting its usual loyal visitors. Among them was Cheilosia illustrata, unusual among Cheilosia species in having a dark wing patch. Bumble bees were frequent too, but I an loth to interfere with them.

Cheilosia illustrata is rarely (never?) found on any plants other than
hogweed. Kentle Wood, 24 June, 2019

There were not many butterflies about other than Meadow Browns and a few Ringlet, many of the latter being newly-emerged. This time last year Marbled Whites were abundant but today I saw none. (I saw just one yesterday at Sulgrave Farm.)

Trying to hide deep in vegetation. A ringlet shows the tell-tale pattern of
spots on the underside of its wings. Kentle Wood, 24 June, 2019
However there were plenty of two-winged flies about and so I returned home with lots of specimens to go under the microscope. 

Newly-emerged specimens of the Ringlet butterfly are generally very dark.
 Kentle Wood, 24 June, 2019
When I first began visiting Kentle Wood I found that, despite its simple linear layout, it was easy to take a wrong turn. But Chris and Lynda safely found their way back to their car.

Sunday, 23 June 2019

Sulgrave Farm

Sulgrave Farm, despite its name, is just slightly nearer to Culworth than its eponymous village. It was the gathering point for a meeting today of the Northants Diptera Study Group. I say 'group' but today only John Showers and myself turned up. It is, for many people, a remote and awkward-to-get-at sort of place.

The group had been asked to pay the farm a visit as the owners have been anxious to conserve wildlife on their land and are understandably keen to know just what they've got.

To encourage wildlife they have created some fine hay meadows. I say 'created' for they are probably not ancient and seem to be the result of sowing a suitable seed mix, perhaps from meadows elsewhere. They have succeeded admirably.

Hogweed dominates but yellow rattle, knapweed and perennial
sow-thistles are common too. Sulgrave Farm. 23 June, 2019
There were no orchids or other 'indicator species'  that I could see but the insect life was abundant, keeping John and me busy. Knapweeds were abundant but only a few, like the one illustrated, were in flower and made me wish that my botanical skills were less rusty.

I have a feeling that this shouldn't be here. Sulgrave Farm, near Culworth,
Northants. 23 June, 2019

It was the Hogweed, Heracleum sphondylium, which stole the show as far as insects were concerned. It is incredibly common yet always provides interest for the naturalist.

Bees were present on the flower heads in great variety.

Ashy Mining Bee, Andrena cineraria. on hogweed. Sulgrave Farm.
23 June, 2019
Beetles too, although most were tiny pollen beetles. This Spotted Longhorn, Rutpela maculata, although also common, was worth a picture, although what is not obvious from the photograph is that this is a mating pair, the female being virtually hidden from view.

Rutpela maculata was for many years known as Strangalia maculata.
Sulgrave Farm, near, Culworth, Northants. 23 June, 2019

As for bugs, huge numbers were present, although the only one I saw on the hogweed was the Dock Bug, Coreus marginatus.

Dock Bug was lured away from dock by the nectar feast available on
hogweed. Sulgrave Farm, near Culworth, Northants. 23 July, 2019

Two other things brought my camera into action.
Field Maple commonly bears small red galls caused by the mite, Aceria myriadeum, but rarely do I see an example with the leaves so encrusted with the pustules.

Aceria myriadeum on the leaves of Acer campestris.
The second picture shows a Common Wainscot, Mythimna pallens, on field beans. It is a very common moth but posed so nicely that I hadn't the heart to ignore it.
Common Wainscot on field bean. Sulgrave Farm, Northants.
23 June, 2019

Red Kites and Common Buzzard wheeled overhead, yellowhammers called from hedgerows, skylarks soared. Not a bad day

Saturday, 22 June 2019

Solitary Tails

A couple of years ago I planted a Foxtail Lily in our back garden. Although I prepared the soil with care I was not wholly optimistic about the venture. They are regarded as tricky, and their other name of Desert Candles hints at their habitat in the wild.

In their magnificent book The Flora of the Silk Road, Christopher and Basak Gardner (See ref.) write of the conditions these plants occupy in the wild:  'Central Asia is the best place in the world to see these striking flowers'. They go on to provide more detail: '… high above the meadows of the Aksu-Dzabagly in southern Kazakhstan during their thousands on stony slopes'. And again: ...truly abundant on areas of slatey rocks from the ancient Karatau Mountains...'

Hardly a description of conditions in a Daventry garden.

'Flora of the Silk Road' available from good booksellers (and therefore
ruling out W.H.Smith). A wonderful read.
Fortunately a handful out of the fifty or so species in the genus - and given the remote areas in which they occur, more may be found - are amenable to cultivation and our back garden plant appears to be happy. It is probably Eremurus x isabellinus, a hybrid between Eremurus olgae and E. stenophyllus.

Last year we had three flower spikes but this year there are six. Our
garden at Stefen Hill, Daventry. 22 June, 2019
The fleshy roots, resembling a spindly starfish, are brittle and need to be spread out carefully when they are handled. Their natural habitats suggest very well-drained, gravelly or gritty conditions, and that is what I tried to provide.
At close on six feet high they are dominating what passes for our back

Forty years ago, when I first heard of Eremuruses (Eremuri?) they were only to be obtained from specialist growers, but garden centres are now making them more readily available. E. x isabellinus is of a distinctive salmon colour, difficult to fit in to a colour scheme but, to quote from Gone with the Wind, 'Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn.' And nor do bees; they love the flowers. Oh, and the word Eremurus comes from the Greek eremos, solitary, and oura, a tail. But of course you knew that.


Gardner, C and G. (2014) Flora of the Silk Road: An Illustrated Guide. I.B.Tauris

Friday, 21 June 2019

Steane House

Yesterday evening Chris and I, together with our friends Ann and John Pimm, joined members of the Boddington and District , on a visit to Steane House near Farthinghoe. The weather threatened from time to time and at one point we did have a sprinkling of rain but overall conditions were good. The house is very fine and the structure, together with the gardens, have had a huge amount of money poured into them. I'll refrain from socio-political comment.

I am always on the lookout for rare or unusual plants - a Pocket-handkerchief Tree perhaps or a Buckeye, but with one exception the plantings were safe and predictable. The novelty was a Bladder Nut, a Staphylea species. The Head Gardener said it was from North America and I didn't want to pursue the point but I thought all in the genus were Old World plants. The foliage was pinnate and I concluded that the species was Staphylea pinnata. Not only is the species from central Europe but it is naturalised in parts of Britain, such as south Lincolnshire. So not really an adventurous planting.

Staphylea pinnata in fruit. Steane House Gardens. 19 June, 2019
I was pleased to find a Fritillary in a border. It was Fritillaria imperialis, aka Crown Imperial and although the flowers were over, the curiously ridged fruit were worth a look.

The fruit capsules of Crown Imperials are rather striking.
Steane House Gardens, 19 June, 2019

Alas, the plant was under attack from Lily Beetles, Lilioceris lilii. Fritillaries are of course in the Lily family and, if anything, they attract these beetles more than true lilies.

Lily Beetles were present on the Crown Imperials.
I am always pleased to find caterpillars of the Mullein Moth, Cucullia verbasci, not because it is rare for it is very common, but simply because it is a handsome creature. It obviously feeds on mullein but also on water figwort, which is where I photographed my specimen. It is one of the few larger caterpillars which will feed on Buddleia.

Common, but always eye-catching, the Mullein Moth will feed on several
plants related to Verbascum.  Steane House Gardens. 19 June 2019
Only a few yards from this caterpillar I saw a black insect on the leaf of a yellow flag. It looked like a member of an insect family called the Stratiomyidae, and I was lucky enough to coax it into collecting tube. Once home I checked it under the microscope I found it was Odontomyia tigrina. Stratiomyids are known as soldier flies, and this particular species is the Black Colonel. It is not rare but I can't recall having seen a specimen before. I didn't photograph it. Damn!

There was not a lot else to set the pulse racing. A walnut tree  bore blister-like galls caused by the mite Aceria erinea. This is so common that an ungalled tree would have been more noteworthy!

Few walnut trees are without these galls formed by Aceria erinea. Steane
House Gardens. 19 June, 2019

This was a very worthwhile trip and I would thoroughly recommend a visit. But beware, the gardens are not always open and it pays to check the internet.

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Micro moths and liverworts

If it's Wednesday it must be Byfield. Chris and I meet up with old friends at the coffee club, but I usually snatch a quarter of an hour to check out the pocket park. It was a drizzly sort of morning, the damp, windless air heavy with the scent of Elder.

Elder, Sambucus niger, is currently filling the air with fragrance.
Byfield Pocket Park, 19 June, 2019

It is a bit of a Marmite plant: Chris finds the fragrance unpleasantly cloying but I find it delightful.

Very optimistically I gathered a few catkins from a Silver Birch tree in the hope of revealing some Semudobia galls on the fruits. In this I was unsuccessful as it is too early in the season, but a consolation came in the form of a micro-moth on a nettle plant near the foot of the tree. It was a specimen of Epinotia trigonella, rather unimaginatively called the Birch Epinotia Moth. It is very common but was a 'first' for the pocket park.

Epitonia trigonella is strongly associated with birches.
Byfield Pocket Park, 19 June, 2019

Another moth was, or had been, present. I didn't see the insect but I did see the distinctive patches left by its larvae on Creeping Thistle leaves. It was the Pale Thistle Case-bearer, Coleophora peribenanderi, and was another first for the pocket park.

These translucent patches on Creeping Thistle are the work of the larvae of
the Pale Thistle Case Bearer. Byfield Pocket Park, 19 June, 2019

Red Campions were blooming well, and although the flowers were of a pale pink I'm sure they were the genuine article and not the hybrid with the White Campion. Incidentally, under ultra-violet light the flowers of the Red Campion are an amazing bright blue, and this is what attracts many insects.

Only pale pink but nevertheless the flowers are of the Red Campion.
Byfield Pocket Park, 19 June, 2019
A hoverfly was busy either taking nectar or feeding on the pollen grains. A closer look showed that it was Episyrphus balteatus. It is one of the few hoverflies to have acquired a common name, being known as the Marmalade Fly. It is unusual in having double bands on each abdominal segment and 'balteatus', meaning 'belted'' perhaps refers to this feature.

A Marmalade Fly, Episyrphus balteatus, taking pollen or nectar. The  insect
migratory, visiting the UK in large numbers each year. Byfield Pocket Park,
19 June, 2019
Having confirmed that the pocket park hadn't been stolen I sauntered back to the coffee club. (I'm not one to boast but I have to put it on record that I am one of Britain's outstanding exponents of sauntering. I once sauntered all the way across the Albert Bridge in London sustained only by an ice cream. Passers-by could only look on with astonishment.) My route took me past the village tennis courts and I was pleased to see some nice patches of liverwort flourishing on damp, shaded gravel. True, the species involved, Marchantia polymorpha, is very common but none the less photogenic.

The female organs are like umbrellas or tiny palm trees, depending on your imagination.

Female reproductive organs of Marchantia polymorpha. Byfield
village tennis courts. 19 June, 2019
Beside them grew patches displaying the distinctive male organs.
Marchantia polymorpha showing the male organs.
The plant is also able to reproduce vegetatively by the forming of structures called gemmae. These are held in distinctive round cups. These gemmae are apparently splashed out by raindrops during a storm

Gemma-cups of Marchantia polymorpha.

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Success and problems

Chris and I visited our allotment today and met with a few problems but were generally pleased. The recent heavy rains have made the soil very workable and weeds, of which there were many, were easy to remove.

An undoubted success has been our lettuces, strong and healthy. They are free of problems, but the same cannot be said of our peas.

Our lettuces are doing well. Drayton Allotments, Daventry.
18 June, 2019 
Despite being carefully netted wood pigeons have managed to nip off so many shoots that the plants are stunted. Some of the leaves have been mined by the larvae of the agromyzid fly Chromatomyia horticola but the damage is minimal and of no consequence. The picture shows clearly how the mine starts off as a very narrow structure but gradually widens as the larva fattens. It finally ends when the fly pupates and then flies off.

The peas are being attacked by Chromatomyia horticola, but only in a
minor way. Drayton Allotments, Daventry. 18 June, 2019
On the potato foliage a micro-moth was 'resting'. What it was really doing is difficult to establish but it may have been actively releasing a pheromone in order to attract a mate.

It was a Light Brown Apple Moth Epiphyas postvittana. Despite is dull name it is rather an interesting insect, being an Australian moth first recorded in Cornwall in 1936. Since then it has spread steadily although populations are cut back during a hard winter. Part of its success lies in the fact that it is highly polyphagous, its larvae being able to feed on a wide range of plants.

The Light Brown Apple Moth, despite its name, is not confined to apples.
Drayton Allotments, Daventry. 18 June, 2019
Finally I ought to mention that I found a couple of oak seedlings while weeding. How they got there is anyone's guess for I am not aware of any oak trees nearby. Were the acorns buried by a squirrel? Were they dropped by a bird such as a jay? I intend to carefully lift and replant them once I have located a suitable site.


This oak seedling can't stay where it is. Drayton Allotments, Daventry.
18 June, 2019

Monday, 17 June 2019

Wow, some sunshine!

Just over a month ago - 10th of May to be precise - I was poring over my ark-building manual following heavy rain. I re-examined the document yesterday following several days of heavy showers but today the sun finally made its presence felt and I ventured forth, admittedly only as far as the local (Stefen Hill) pocket park.

Quite a lot of twigs and small branches littered the ground but although a blustery wind still tugged away at trees and bushes there were a number of insects around. Several species of micro-moths were dancing about, including the Yellow-barred Longhorn, Nemophora degeerella*. The males have extremely long antennae but I only managed to photograph a female.

Several moths bear a pale bar across their wings but the Yellow-barred
 Longhorn is quite distinctive. Stefen Hill Pocket Park, 17 June, 2019

Far more numerous, but 'dancing' so furiously that a decent photograph proved impossible, were dozens of the tortricid moth, Pseoudargyrotoza conwagana. Known as the Yellow-spot Tortrix it is extremely common hereabouts, perhaps because its main food-plant, the ash tree is also abundant (it is occasionally found on privet)). In some parts of the U.K. this moth is relatively scarce.

Even more common is the Nettle-tap, Anthophila fabriciana*, although I only saw one specimen today. As the name indicates, it is associated with its food-plant, the common nettle.

The Nettle-tap soon becomes familiar to anyone gathering material
for nettle soup. Stefen Hill Pocket Park, 17 June, 2019
This year I seem to have seen an unusually large number of Red-legged Shieldbugs, Pentatoma rufipes. Common they may be but nevertheless I was surprised to find one investigating, and apparently eating, a bird dropping. This species is known to have a wide diet, including dead insects. It moved away as I stealthily approached.

This nymph of the Red-legged Shieldbug appeared to be sampling a
bird dropping. Stefen Hill Pocket Park, 17 June, 2019
Before the heavy rains of recent days we had a long dry spell and the pond, awkwardly situated at the top of a hill, lost all its water. Tadpoles, of which there were large numbers, died en masse. Their corpses will not be wasted and even now there will surely be various creatures consuming their remains. The pond now holds considerable quantities of water and the Yellow Flags are blooming. This plant must rank among the loveliest of our wild plants.

The Yellow Flag, Iris pseudacorus, was blooming freely today.
Stefen Hill Pocket park, 17 June, 2019
One old name for this plant is 'segg'. and refers to the sword-like leaves, segg being an Anglo-Saxon name for a short sword.


* The names of these two moths commemorate very famous biologists. Charles de Geer (1720-1778) was a Swedish biologist whilst Johan Christian Fabricius (1745-1808) was Danish, specialising in insects. Perhaps because of Linnaeus, Scandinavian biologists played a very important role in the development of modern taxonomy.

Saturday, 15 June 2019

Major Morrison's Land

A good percentage of people in and around Byfield are keen walkers and all will know or be aware of 'Major Morrison's land'. He* owned a considerable acreage of land to the south of Byfield but died, I believe, about twenty years ago. His widow lives on, now in her nineties. A public footpath runs roughly north south across the land and is popular with walkers, not least because the land is sympathetically managed for wildlife. With a spare half hour to kill earlier today Chris and I blew away a few cobwebs with a walk across the land, climbing a gentle hill, reaching 184 metres, for the fine views it offers, views to which my little camera would not do justice.

Very broad verges surround the fields of crops and the flowers which occupy these areas, though largely 'agricultural weeds'. add colour to the landscape.
The broad borders to the fields support ox-eye daisies, poppies and
hogweed. 15 June, 2019

The flowers, such as Ox-eye Daisy, Chrysanthemum leucanthemum, Common Poppy, Papaver rhoeas, and Hogweed, Heracleum sphondylium, were being visited by a wide range of insects, particularly bumblebees. Also present were clumps of Common Mallow, Malva sylvestris.

Common Mallow, a relative of cotton and okra, is worth a close examination.
15 June, 2019
Mallow supports several interesting species of weevil and I must make a return visit to check which species are present.

Red Campion is flourishing very well it seems across much of Britain. White Campion is rather less common, particularly around Byfield where the soils are on the acid side, and I was therefore pleased to find both species in numbers beside our track.

White Campion is very fragrant after nightfall. 15 June, 2019
White Campion, Silene alba, produces a heady fragrance as evening approaches, aiming to attract night-flying insects, but I have never noticed this with Red Campion, Silene dioica.  Both species have five petalled flowers but the petals are deeply divided and at a glance there sometimes appears to be ten petals.

Red Campion is much the commoner plant hereabouts. Its five petals
can be so deeply divided as to appear to be ten. Farmland south of Byfield.
15 June, 2019
Although the two species are closely related, sometimes producing hybrids when they are in proximity, there are some important differences and botanists often place the two in separate genera. White Campion is an annual whereas its congener is a perennial. Both campions bear male and female flowers on separate plants, as indicated in the case of the Red Campion by the epithet 'dioica'.

It was rather surprising to find specimens of what appear to the Field Rose, Rosa arvensis, beside the track. I make no claim to be a rose expert but the Field Rose normally grows on calcareous soils, as distinct from the rather acid land around Byfield. I should have taken a sample for examination later.

Rosa arvensis? Probably, but I have a nagging suspicion...
Farmland south of Byfield. 15 June, 2019
The attention given to wildlife conservation was very impressive and I was also pleased to note that a number of thickets of trees have been established on spare ground. It would be churlish to complain that some of the trees were North American because overall they have surely been of benefit to our fauna.


* I confess to a mild irritation with ex-military officers who insist on using their rank after retirement. We do not hear of Fire Chief Wilson, Head Teacher Barnes or Detective Chief Inspector Brown clinging to their rank or status when they have hung up their truncheons or whatever.

Sunday, 9 June 2019

High Wood and Meadow - with postscript

High Wood and Meadow represents one of Northamptonshire's finest reserves and yet, although it is only about ten miles away from Daventry I haven't been there for over a year - maybe two. Today it was the venue for a meeting of the N.D.S.G. - the Northamptonshire Dipterists' Study Group. It is an informal group consisting of a few friends and although ostensibly it exists for the study of diptera I generally spend at least 50% of my time looking for other invertebrates, particularly spiders and beetles. Graham Warnes was present as were Chris and Kate Colles from Boddington.

The four of us set off, passing a large field of Oilseed Rape. I suspect the farmer uses very little in the way of pesticides for many of the leaves were infested with aphids, and  poppies formed a scarlet edging to the crop. Poppies are self-sterile and insect visitors are essential for pollination, but there is no nectar to tempt them. Instead beetles and others visit in order to collect the pollen.

Common Poppies, Papaver rhoeas, are quick to make a comeback when an
 opportunity presents itself. Near Preston Capes, Northants. 9 June, 2019
I don't know why I so love to see Goats Beard, Tragopogon pratensis, otherwise known as Jack-go-to-bed-at-Noon. It is a relative of scorzonera and salsify, two occasionally-grown vegetables. Something to do with its spiky, geometrical flowers? Perhaps, but it is also a weed in our front garden and I haven't the heart to eradicate it.

Only ten in the morning, so Jack-go-to-bed at-noon was still open for
business. Near High Wood, Preston Capes, Northants. 9 June, 2019

A moth fluttered up from where my feet had disturbed it in long grass. It settled in a nearby hawthorn bush, allowing me a photograph. It was a Silver-ground Carpet, Xanthorhoe montanata. The species is very common throughout most of Britain but is undeniably pretty.

The Silver-ground Carpet is very photogenic. Near High Wood,
Preston Capes, Northants. 9 June, 2019
Rather similar in form if not in colour was this Yellow Shell, Camptogramma bilineata. If possible it is even more common than the Silver-ground Carpet, being ubiquitous. I don't care: I was pleased to see them both.
The Yellow Shell soon becomes familiar to walkers in our countryside.
High Wood and Meadow, near Preston Capes, Northants. 9 June, 2019

By now I had reached the meadow, where a Cardinal Beetle came to my attention. Several beetles come under this general name; this one is probably the commonest and is sometimes called the Red-headed Cardinal Beetle, other species having black heads. For those hungering for the Latin name it is Pyrochroa serraticornis.

The Red-headed Cardinal Beetle is the commonest of our three
Pyrochroa species. High Wood and Meadow. 9 June, 2019
All these are very commonplace insects and I can only hope that sorting through my specimens later will reveal something  little more out of the ordinary.

My hopes were later realised, for among the flies gathered was a specimen of the False Woodlouse-fly, Eggisops pecchiolii. It took me some time to identify it, for I had not encountered it before. Come to that, neither have many people because if I am right it is only the 21st record from Britain! I'll get confirmation from an expert but I am reasonably confident about it.
Oedemera nobilis on buttercup. Near High Wood, Preston Capes,
Northants. 9 June, 2019

Tony White. E-mail: