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

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Lucky Sweep

Last week, after my disappointing visit to Countesthorpe Meadows, I also nipped to Croft Hill to grab some foodplant provisions for boxed larvae I'm trying to rear. Whilst there I swished my sweep net for a couple of minutes, and one thing that ended up in the net was a clearly live and very black moth pupa. It looked likely to be a tortrix based on size but obviously it was always going to be a mystery until it emerged. Well on Monday it did .....

Ptycholoma lecheana

I don't know what it is with this species, but the scales seem to fall off if you just look at them. The markings seem entirely pointless given that they are often bald after a very short time. This was clearly fresh and had never flown before I had to pot it and keep it fridged overnight, and it's not like the pot was big enough for it to have a good fly around!

Here's one from the last time I ran the garden trap on Sunday night.

Blastobasis lacticolella

The trap has been off since then, partly due to less than ideal weather but mainly due to me needing to focus on getting to work in the mornings this week! Hopefully the weather will be good tomorrow night, as we're away on Friday when the conditions may well be perfect .....

In the meantime I've got plenty to do. First and foremost I need to get my section for the Leics. & Rutland Ornithological Society Report fnished, and secondly I'm now helping out with verification on Naturespot which links directly into iRecord. I'm expecting to get back into a few afterwork hours in the field etc from next week.

Monday, 27 May 2019

Sweeping Bishops

I nipped over to Huncote Embankment late on Saturday afternoon. My main plan was to deploy a baited bottle trap to see if I could attract any water beetles. I failed on that score, with the only captives in the trap being two Three-spined Sticklebacks!

Whilst there though, I had a damned good swish around long grasses, low-growing vegetation and - in paticular - Ribwort Plantain. I've recently acquired a proper sweep net after ripping my butterfly net at Croft Hill earlier in the month. It's certainly better suited for the task, though a little heavier and less use at catching flying moths. Almost every swipe ended up with plenty to look at, and unavoidably a load of grass seeds. Most notable for me was the number of Bishop's Mitre Shieldbugs that I netted. I usually feel lucky if I manage to net one or two, but on Saturday I lost count going round but ended up with at least 40, substantially more than the total I'd previously seen.

Like these six for example, amongst a plethora of Leptopterna sp. nymphs, three 16-spot Ladybirds and an Agriotes lineatus.

Bishop's Mitre Shieldbug

As for sweeping Ribwort Plantain, I was hoping for a new weevil - and scored ..

Mecinus pascorum - new for me

Mecinus pyraster - not new for me, also on Ribwort Plantain

I also swept a few Trichosirocalus troglodytes from the plantain but didn't manage to get a good photo, just this half-arsed effort with the USB microscope.

Trichosirocalus troglodytes

Other bits swept included these:

Cassida vibex

Water Ladybird

Paranchus albipes

Capsus ater

Hypera rumicis

Saturday, 25 May 2019

One Man Went To Mow ....

.... went and bloody well mowed the meadows I was hoping to sweep on Wednesday evening for an hour or so after work. I nipped to a local site that I refer to as Countesthorpe Meadows. I haven't been there for a long while, and as soon as I got there I had de ja vu.

It probably looked great a week or so before ....

Anyway, I swept around the margins and pointed my camera at a few bits. Nothing new or exciting, but still good practice. I was keen to see if I was still capable of pointing the camera at anything hand-held in the field without specs. Confirmed I need specs, these were lucky!

Cardinal Beetle

Common Malachite Beetle

Cantharis nigricans

Red-and-Black Froghopper

I was home very late from work yesterday, but managed to get the trap out for around 22:30. Turned out to be well worthwhile.

Puss Moth

Eyed Hawk-moth

Elachista albedinella


Ephestia unicolorella

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Micro Larval Life

My rearing tubs have not been too successful this year, must be getting on for 70% parasitised. Great if you want to rear the parasites, but I was more interested in getting the larvae up to an identifiable instar. Anyway, I have more including a number of micro larvae from Burrow Wood on Sunday. More for ease than aesthetics, I pointed the USB microscope at them.

This one is certainly Eana incanana - feeding in spinnings on bluebell flowers.

This one is probably Epinotia brunnichana - feeding in a leaf-roll on hazel

Nah, absolutely no idea

Again, no idea. Actually this one may even be an early instar macro

Coleophorid sp. that I found feeding on oak, though here it had moved onto a birch leaf. I'm sure it must be either C. lutipennella or C. flavipennella

Also from Burrow Wood, I brought home a tenanted Eriocrania type leaf mine on birch, though by the time I got home the larva had vacated the mine. Through a process of elimination I've identified it as Heringocrania unimaculella: large blotch mine from edge of leaf with no linear gallery (so not salopiella or sparmannella), larva not grey (so not sangii), larva without swollen thoracic segments (so not cicatricella), protrusions from head-capsule visible through thoracic plate (so not semipurpurella).

Heringocrania unimaculella (=Eriocrania unimaculella)

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Genitalia News

So back in March I posted about spending time around birches on Kinchley Lane, and then in April I went out trapping at Fox Covert, Ulverscroft. On both occasions I potted Eriocrania spp. that would need gen det, but I was hopeful of getting something new from at least one if not both of these outings. Well I got the results today, and I'm very pleased indeed.

Eriocrania semipurpurella - Kinchley Lane 28/03/2019

Pleased with this one as I'd provisionally identified it as semipurpurella. There are only ten previous VC55 records; three I'm not sure of the validity and the rest are all from the same recorder where I am sure specimens will have been retained/checked.

Eriocrania salopiella - Fox Covert 18/04/2019

Even better, as effectively this is a VC55 first. There is one unconfirmed record that will certainly not be supported by a specimen or anything verifiable. Ironically, today around two hours before my gen dets came through Adrian Russell found leaf-mines of this species that he was banking on being the first confirmed record!

Eriocrania sangii (ish)- Fox Covert 18/04/2019

Or at least it probably is. Unfortunately this was a female so gen det not conclusive. I've seen sangii before so nothing lost with this one remaining unconfirmed.

Also amongst the gen dets, my garden Ocnerostoma friesei (another British Tick) was confirmed, and both of the following were new for me too ...

Phyllonorycter sorbi - Fox Covert 18/04/2019

Phyllonorycter lantanella - Fox Covert 18/04/2019

So all in all a very worthwhile batch of gen dets!

Monday, 20 May 2019

Another Tacky Tick

A new one for the garden, and me, in the trap last night ......

Tachystola acroxantha

The only one I've seen before was a partly emaciated and very dead specimen from a fly killer catch tray, which at the time was one of the first VC55 records. It's become quite common and widespread in the VC since then so probably a bit overdue.

In the same trap, another garden first - albeit just a form:

Clouded-bordered Brindle ab. combusta

And whilst I'm at it, this Muslin Moth from Saturday night is slightly abberrant, and I've seen a number of similarly marked individuals on various groups this year so perhaps an effect of the heatwave last summer?

Muslin Moth

An I guess I'll throw in this throw-away shot of a Common Swift. Not sure I've ever got a photo of this and most swifts that I'm happy with - they dither about a lot!

Common Swift

Sunday, 19 May 2019

A Five-tick Day

This morning I headed back over to Burrow Wood, the great bluebell wood near to Charnwood Lodge. I had only one intention, and that was to sweep through the bluebells in a very single-minded fashion trying to record a nice moth. I scored!

Hysterophora maculosana

I was lucky to pick one up after only three or four sweeps, but I then spent well over an hour sweeping through the wood - albeit sticking to the path - before I got another. On the way out of the wood I then netted another two in flight around bluebells in an open sunny glade. With only two previous records for VC55, both of singles, it's good to add another dot to the map. And another moth on my list!

The time spent sweeping bluebells was, though, amazingly productive. On every sweep there were masses of click beetles, loads of Phyllobius type weevils and a load of 'acorn' weevils, along with quite a few micro larvae (Eana incanana?) and a few macro larvae (??) and plenty of other bugs and beetles. It's not like there was lots of tall vegetation around the bluebells - this was all stuff actually on the bluebells.

I've potted a few clicks to try and check out, but I avoided most of the Phyllobius-type weevils apart from a small golden-green one and a couple that were brown and variegated. Turned out to be a good move as both were new for me!

Polydrysus tereticollis - two different individuals

Phyllobius argentatus

Showing femoral tooth, pale tibia, rounded scales and white hairs

I also had a plant tick in the wood. Whilst sweeping about I noticed these small yellow flowers, which I've worked out are ...

Yellow Pimpernel

I potted up a couple of acorn weevils, and confirmed both species were as expected ..

Curculio venosus - just about showing elytral 'ridge'

Curculio glandium

Showing the antennal club of Curculio glandium - narrow and tapered

Also in the wood was this stiltbug, which I actually found sitting out on hazel.

Metatropis rufescens

The other tick today was a garden hoverfly - Baccha elongata - and to be honest I think I've seen it here before but not logged it. No photo though, hopefully another one will come along when I am avec camera.

I have a few other bits but they'll wait so I don't overload this post, but before I get back to the microscopes and literature here's one especially for Seth Gibson: I don't even have to look for Scarce Fungus Weevil any more, this one landed on me whilst walking down the lane to the farm shop this afternoon!

(Really Not Very) Scarce Fungus Weevil

Clicks, bugs and cantharids waiting ......