My lifer was not a moth today! I noticed these exquisite, nettle-associated Myrid bugs, Grypocoris stysi on a nettle bed in an unkempt corner of a churchyard near my house. Here is one:
They’re pretty common, being nettle feeders, and they’re distinctive and eye-catching so this is a great species to look for if you want to get started on Hemiptera. I seem to have been neglecting Hemiptera a bit, with only 30 species on my list.
Nemophora degeerella was my lifer for the day, another pretty micro-moth, on my way home from college. But that wasn’t my most exciting find today.
I found a Carabid which I recognised as a Panagaeus. Both species in the genus are very scarce, but I’m fairly certain I had bipustulatus, the commoner of the two. From the relatively breif views I got of it, I saw that the amount of orange on the elytra fitted bipustulatus better. But the habitat is much more typical for the commoner species, on a dry railway embankment. This is potentially a very significant find as it would be the second Yorkshire site away from Spurn. Unfortunately, it was too quick for a photo.
The moth trap was once again did bits for me, with two more lifers inside.
The first was this nice Ringed China-mark, Parapoynx stratiotata.
China-marks still fascinate me because of their aquatic lifestyle as a caterpillar, I’d love to find one in the water! This one is quite cosmopolitan in its choice of aquatic foodplants but I doubt it has hatched from my tiny excuse for a garden pond.
The second lifer was a very worn Grey Pug, which was hardly worth a photograph.
As you can see, I’m still frequently adding very common species to my list, even macros and even in my own garden. While it might seem quite high, my moth list of 271 pales into insignificance when you consider there are around 2500 species in the country, and we’re talking about one of the species groups which I concentrate on most here!
I’ve got an absolutely cracking set of species from Chambers Farm Wood for today’s post, including my first new butterfly of the month.
First identified tick of the day were these Vestal Cuckoo Bees, Bombus vestalis:
They abounded in the whole wood, but the real reason I came to Chambers was the Marsh Fritillaries, and, although they were worn (we are coming towards the end of the flight season), they did not disappoint.
These were my most wanted resident British butterfly up until today, and they are now my favourite. This population almost definitely results from an unofficial introduction, although I’m fairly sure that the butterfly was known from the area in the past, so I don’t see a problem with it.
Another massive highlight was the display that the (certainly introduced) Black Hairstreaks put on. These weren’t a lifer but my only previous views were distant and brief so this was a nice change!
I also saw 2 Broad-bordered Bee Hawk-moths, but the pictures aren’t worth sharing, I’m still getting used to my sister’s camera which I’m borrowing.
Sorry in advance for the lack of quality photographs in this post but my camera has decided to break on me. I’ve even had to resort to BOC shots! Luckily the moth trap was surprisingly productive, bringing me two lifers, despite unforecast rain which soaked my equipment.
First up was this stunner, a Scorched Wing, not even that common.
There was also the dowdier, but still quite endearing, Freyer’s Pug:
I think I’ve had quite a few leaf beetles in this series because I tend to identify the most interesting or beautiful creatures first, and leaf beetles are a favourite of mine with their metallic sheen and rounded appearance.
Here it is, the Green Dock Beetle, Gastrophysa viridula:
Green Dock Beetle
I think we can all agree that leaf beetles are up there with the best insects in the country.
I was really lucky that on the same Dock as I found this female (bulging with eggs) there were also males and many larvae.
Today was my first day back at college (unfortunately), which meant I walked through some nice invertebrate-rich scrubby farmland on my way back. This got me a lifer, the wonderfully marked 14-spot Ladybird.
However, the impromptu meeting with this beetle meant I didn’t have my camera on me, hence the quite poor phone shot.
The merged markings on this individual gave me some initial confusion but this is common in this species.
Another day at home, another walk round the fields, another lifer.
Today I took a leaf out of Erica McAlister’s book, who appeared on Springwatch Unsprung last night, and found this fly which I believe is the fascinating Volucella bombylans. This hoverfly is an amazing bumblebee mimic, which comes in multiple colour forms. Mine was the red-tailed form (var. bombylans).
Volucella bombylans var. bombylans
I’m not too surprised that this challenge is proving achievable so far, but I’m surprised at the quality of species that I’m ticking, though this could change by the end of the month. I’ll try my best!
I put the moth trap out last night, and despite the appalling weather I got this lifer:
It even cleared up to allow me to check the trap without getting rained on!
This was my first kitten moth, and a group which I’ve wanted to see for a while, being common and very pretty with their yellow-edged dark markings on a silky white background. They’re called kittens due to their fluffy bodies and legs!
Day 5 of my challenge and I’m still going strong. I noticed this beetle in a field edge around my village this morning. It is the common but very beautiful leaf beetle; Chrysolina staphylaea.
The photo really doesn’t do the beetle justice, it is an amazing deep, metallic red. Leaf beetles are one of the beetle groups that I’m trying to get to grips with, so this was a very welcome tick!
This also demonstrates the importance of field edge as a habitat, there will be countless other organisms like this (and also rarer ones) living in them so agricultural policy needs to recognize this and protect and enhance good field edge habitat. Topical for the upcoming general election! Keep nature in mind when you vote.