Monday, 22 July 2019

Veneers and ladybirds

In my last blog I welcomed the arrival of rather heavy rain during the last 72 hours. Today (Monday) the sunshine has returned, bringing hot, humid conditions. Had there been any obvious effects? I strolled over to Stefen Hill Pocket Park to have a shufti.

There were plenty of insects about, including a skittish Silver-washed Fritillary, Argynnis paphia, taking to the wing every time I approached within camera distance. As I approached a cherry tree in a final and abortive attempt to get a picture I noticed a ladybird. It has emerged within the past 12 hours from its pupal case, the black, shrivelled object apparently being inspected by its former occupant.

Seven-spot Ladybird? Probably, but I'll never know.
Stefen Hill Pocket Park, 22 July, 2019
Most insects that emerge from a pupal case or cocoon are soft-bodied and often pale; they are in what entomologists call a teneral condition.  The species shown is probably a
7-spot Ladybird, Coccinella 7-punctata, but teneral or not it flew off before I could get a closer look. Over the next 48 hours or so it will develop its spots to look more like the ladybird we expect.

As I trudged through an area of rather long grass a number of moths were disturbed and fluttered away. They were grass moths which, usually being the colour of dried grass are often lost to sight when they settle. Today I decided to follow one, tracking it down until it could be photographed. It turned out to be a specimen of the Garden Grass-veneer, Chrysoteuchia culmella.

Chrysoteuchia culmella is one of the commoner grass moths.
Stefen Hill Pocket Park, 22 July, 2019

Several broadly similar species of these grass moths are found in Britain. They are generally nondescript species, lacking bright colours but, as I have suggested, perfectly camouflaged for life in the grass. Not surprisingly it was a new species for the pocket park, bringing to total up to 220.

The hoverfly, Myathropa florea, is more colourful but had already been recorded from this site before. It is a rather good mimic of certain bees.

The 'Batman Hoverfly' (note the logo behind the head) is a very common
insect. Stefen Hill Pocket Park, 22 July, 2019

The pocket park is not the place to go if it is wild flowers you are after but the Red Campions, Silene dioica, were flowering well and bore some interesting patched on the leaves. Clearly caused by insects, I'll keep an eye on these patches over the next two or three weeks.
Red Campion flourishes in western Northamptonshire.
Stefen Hill Pocket Park, 22 July, 2019

I am optimistic that the items brought home will contain new specimens for the pocket park and by the year's end the total should near three hundred.

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