Birds, Leps, Observations & Generalities - the images and ramblings of Mark Skevington. Sometimes.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Puss Moth Farming

Back on 28/05/2018, I had a great big spanking female Puss Moth in the garden trap.

Given that it was so big and fresh, I had hoped that it was 'virginal' and so I put it in a large box with a funnel over a hole and left it out the next night in the hope of assembling a male. By the morning, there was no sign of a male, the female was still in the box and there was an inch of rain water in the bottom of it. Worse, the female had promptly laid masses of eggs in and around the box, with at least half of them in the water.

I let her go, drained the container, gently patted everything with kitchen towel and left the eggs in the box in the shed to dry out whilst I headed off to Devon. I had no idea if they were viable, and even of they were I feared that the watery start to their development would not help.

When I got back on 02/06/2018, I was keen to get the garden trap out again. Just like busses, another Puss Moth - this one a male.

A day or so later, I carefully transferred the eggs from the large box into a smaller tub. I checked it every day, not knowing if anything would emerge. Then on the evening of 11/06/2017, I checked again and bugger me there were loads of black squiggles mooching about the tub.

It looked like all the eggs had hatched, and I quickly under-guestimated c50 larvae. I spilt them very roughly into two larger tubs with some sallow - it was as arbitrary as the smaller lid went into one and the smaller tub into the other larger tub.

On Tuesday after work I was amazed at how quickly they had part-skeletonized the sallow. I also had a better go at counting them (and found that there were at least a hundred) and I grabbed some 1st instar shots. They were around 10mm, and already waggling about their 'tail' filaments when disturbed.

Today was day 3 after hatching, and they're a little bigger at c12mm. A few have changed to 2nd instar and are showing the distinctive pattern, albeit with completely different colouration to later instars. I've split them into five tubs, and each has c25 larvae.

Rearing all of these is not going to be tenable! From 3rd instar onwards I will be gradually releasing batches into the local area. I will rear a few through to final instar and pupation, as these really are quite funky larvae to see!

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Liking (Coastal) Lichens

My lichen identification skills have not progressed. At all. I don't carry around small bottles of sterilising bleach, potassium-hydroxide or iodine, and even if I did I wouldn't know where to start. However I do like lichens, and in particular I like the abstract patterns they create and the way that different species blend and merge on the same square foot of rock/bark/gravestone etc. So here's a few random shots of some coastal rocks and retaining walls at Heddon's Mouth last week.

Monday, 4 June 2018

Tart's Tick Butterfly

I had a few days in Devon last week, and managed to point my camera at a few inverts whilst down there. Best of the bunch for me was a new butterfly at Heddon's Mouth (on the coast a few miles west of Lynton). There were a few flitting about but none settled to check them properly and no chance to get a proper shot, so I has to resort to netting and potting one and then grabbing a couple of phone shots in the pot before releasing it again.

Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Heddon's Mouth 31/05/2018

Whilst nosing about looking at coastal lichens and grabbing some abstract photos, I found a couple of other bits on the rocks ....

Knot Grass, Heddon's Mouth 31/05/2018

Salticus scenicus sl, Heddon's Mouth 31/05/2018

Most other bits I photographed were in the in-laws Guineaford garden.

Mint Beetle, 31/05/2018

Copper Underwing, 01/06/2018

Micropterix aruncella, 01/06/2018

Micropterix calthella, 02/06/2018

Speckled Bush-cricket nymph, 02/06/2018

Beautiful Demoiselle, 02/06/2018

Psychoides filicivora, 02/06/2018

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Recent Larval Finds

I've got quite a menagerie of larvae at the moment, that I'm either trying to rear through to later instars etc to confirm ID, or just because I can and they're quite therapeutic. Here's a few, there are more!

Green-brindled Crescent, a chance find at Ketton Quarry on 07/05/2018

Feathered Thorn, swept from hawthorn at Cossington Meadows on 06/05/2018

Acrobasis advenella, inadvertently collected in hawthorn used as foodplant

Pretty sure this is an early-instar Black Arches - found on hawthorn at Ketton Quarry on 07/05/2018

Small Quaker, beaten from oak at Kinchley Lane on 19/05/2018

Purple Hairstreak, beaten from oak at Kinchley Lane on 19/05/2018 -
this one is going back before long now I know what it is.

Copper Underwing, several on elm at Kinchley Lane on 19/05/2018

Another one to confirm, but I think it's a Sprawler from Kinchley Lane on 19/05/2018

And this was one of several Mullein larvae I found today at Watermead CP North -
photographed in-situ on the foodplant.

Monday, 7 May 2018

Invert Action

I've been out and about in the sunshine over the last couple of days, and this morning in particular brought a few nice-to-see bits. Unless stated otherwise these are all from Ketton Quarry.

Green Tiger Beetle - loads out today

Woundwort Shieldbug

Grizzled Skipper

Cassida vibex

Platystomos albinus

Common Heath

Forget-me-not Shieldbug - a new one for me

Scarlet Tiger

Bishop's Mitre - Pickworth Great Wood

Micropterix calthella - Pickworth Great Wood

Cyclosa conica - Cossington Meadows, a new spider for me

Scarce Fungus Weevil