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

Monday, 29 June 2020

Special Brew

What can I say: the weather has turned pants, LCFC are playing with 22 left feet, and apparently the City is a thriving Covid hot-bed. It's enough to make you want to get up and head to the nearest pub on Saturday .... if they open, who knows. 'A pint of lager and a dose of Covid please mate' .... a proper Special Brew. Think I'll stick to the home bar for a while yet.

Seeing as nothing happened at the weekend, here's a few from the last couple of garden trap outings - starting with a garden tick ....

Cydia fagiglandana - 112th Tortrix, 379th micro, 703rd moth for the garden

Plain Golden Y

Peppered Moth

Buff Arches

Leopard Moth - I always think these look like sheep-moth hybrids

Poplar Grey

Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing

Grapholita janthinana

Saturday, 27 June 2020

Look at my furry balls ....

.... of fruit ....

I wonder if anyone remembers me commenting that we had a Peach sapling, flowering well but apparently not being pollenated. Well, either it was or my intentional dabbling with a paintbrush was entirely fruitful. What I completely forgot about in the intervening weeks was that lots of leaves were affected by a leaf-curl issue - a quick internet search reveals the obvious - Peach Tree Leaf-curl caused by Taphrina deformans.

Yesterday after work, I managed to head down the lane for a brief bit of peace after a week of intense heat in the factory and early-mornings empty the trap. I had intended to swish about umbelifers with my net but they'd pretty much all gone to seed. I swept through grasses ending up with masses of grass seeds and grass-loving bugs, and I also swept some Knapweed and Creeping Thistle, both of which yielded similar-looking large dark aphids. I tend to ignore aphids unless I am sure that they are on a particular host plant, and both of these were too coincidental to check out. Bugger me, there is a Large Knapweed Aphid (Uroleucon jaceae) and a Large Thistle Aphid (Uroleucon cirsii). I had a couple potted which matched, though I have not bothered trying to photograph them. I pointed the camera at a couple of bits, nothing exciting ....

Ruby Tiger on it's favoured ragwort

Closterotomus norwegicus

24-spot Ladybird

Other new news came this evening - the Longitarsus sp. I swept from Viper's Bugloss has been identified as Longitarsus exoletus.

Today has been a mix of heavy rain this morning and warm sunshine this afternoon, constantly accompanied by blustery wind. A bit frustrating that the first two weekends after going back to work properly look set to be not good for getting out. Still, at least the fish tank got cleaned out for a change. I'm hoping I might get a chance tomorrow, but my targets were odonata and a couple of  butterflies that are unlikely to enjoy dull windy weather!

A brief spell in the garden this afternoon with the camera had me chasing a couple of hoverflies around. That I managed to get any shot of this one in the wind was some feat!

Scaeva pyrastri - one of two knocking about on Spirea

Still a couple of Merodon equestris knocking about, and a Platycheirus sp. that I've not checked out yet.

Thursday, 25 June 2020

Brown-tail On the List ....

.... tra - la la - la la

Ha, bet you can't stop singing that now. Anyways, bleary eyed early this morning I had enough wits about me to give this a second glance and bung it in a pot for later .....

Smallish, very fluffy thorax, no black mark at tornus .... must be a Brown-tail? ....

Checking it properly early this evening after work, and yes - it is. New for the garden list too.

The trap has been quite busy the last couple of nights, though apart from the above nothing unexpected. Heart and Club is now annual, Coronet has quickly become common, micros relatively thin on the ground though. Tonight likely to be good too, then I expect tomorrow will be more thunderous downpours. I'm hoping to get out at the weekend though, one day or the other - I have local targets in mind.

Marbled Beauty

Beautiful Hook-tip

Minor agg. - a nice looking individual I reckon

Heart and Club

Crambus perlella

Double Square-spot


Monday, 22 June 2020

Yeah, Right!

I managed to look at a couple of small beetles last night; a weevil that I'd not got around to and a flea beetle that I'd forgotten about.

The weevil was, in the end, straightforward. It always helps when you manage to sweep them from a particular plant, and this one came from Meadow Crane's-bill. Imagine my joy when Googling 'weevil on meadow crane's-bill' brought up identical black weevils with a small raised 'neck' called Meadow Crane's-bill Weevil ....

Zacladus geranii

The flea beetle was not straightforward. I actually had four in a pot that all came from sweeping Viper's Bugloss at Ketton Quarry. I was checking for Mogulones geographicus but ended up with a net absolutely heaving with lots of what appeared to be the same flea beetle. As far as I can tell they're one of the Longitarsus spp., and a bit of trawling shows up a species pair that could well be in eastern VC55 on Viper's Bugloss - L. aeneicollis and L. nasturtii, either of which would I think be new to VC55 ....

I can hear you shouting from here: 'Longitarsus - yeah, right!'. I could be way off in all respects - either not Longitarsus, or just one of the polyphageous spp. Internet images of the Longitarsus spp. seem to be all over the place which does not help. Anyway I got a couple over to Graham Finch today who is hopefully much better placed to get an ID one way or another.

Sunday, 21 June 2020

Par(helophilus) For The List

It's been a quiet weekend on the poking around for inverts front. Too much time spent catching up on some Zs or watching football that is lacking excitement and atmosphere. Yesterday I managed to nip out for the briefest of brief forays to Misterton Marsh, south of here on the way to Lutterworth. I'd been there all of 30mins when the threatening skies just started to offload water.

Still, all in all though it was a successful 30mins as I managed to sweep another hoverfly tick from umbelifers. I knew immediately that it was one of the Parhelophilus spp. - smaller and darker overall than Helophilus, almost browny-orange rather than yellow looking. It was potted and retained to check which one and what features to confirm. When checking the book, it was clear I'd need to look at a feature on the hind femora, and there was no way that was going to happen whilst it was flapping about in the pot and the feature would not show on a typical photo either. Sorry fly, again! Before dispatching it though, I was able to check and confirm it was male - otherwise it would have been pointless as the key feature to separate the two main contenders is a male-only feature. The eye-spacing on these spp. is not the same as most hoverflies so despite the eyes being spaced apart, this is a male (per the large genital capsule on the undercarriage).

This hairy tubercle on the underside and near the base of the hind femora is key, confirming Parhelophilus frutetorum
(vs P. versicolor which does not show it).

I managed to photograph a couple of other hoverflies on umbelifers too before the shower.

Cheilosia illustrata - several of these seen.
They're hairy, black and white like bumbling Pandas on the flower heads.

Riponnensia splendens - now I know what I'm looking at, they seem to be fairly common

Other bits seen included ....

Early-instar Cinnabar larvae

Loads of Leptopterna dolabrata

Not only have I used the new editor, I've managed (so far) to produce this post using the new Microsoft Edge browser which installed itself on my PC with the last update. I stopped using Internet Explorer for blogging a few years ago as there seemed to be compatibility issues. Firefox has been fine, and I'll probably still use it unless I start to notice any advantages whilst using Edge for other applications.

Friday, 19 June 2020

Bugs and Buds

I've finally managed to crack a couple of hemipteran puzzlers that I've been mulling over all week. Both were swept and potted at Ketton Quarry on Monday, and both popped their clogs in respective pots before I could even attempt a photo. Luckily there were both big enough that they were not going to shrivel away to nothing in a couple of days. It's not often now that I find a bug and can't resolve it having gone through the British Bugs galleries, but both of these stubbornly refused to be identified until I had a lucky moment last night and a eureka moment this evening.

First up, this dark Mirid with bright red cuneus, bright green underneath and (although they fell off) longish 'Phytocoris like' hind legs. I could not pick out anything similar in the British Bugs galleries, then last night whilst flicking through Facebook I noticed a photo of the exact same bug on the UK Hemiptera group. Here's a lazy photo of my dead hind-legless bug ....

It's a male Closterotomus trivialis, which currently isn't featured on the British Bugs gallery. It was added to the British list as recently as 2008, when adults were found on a small number of cultivated Hypericum plants in a north London garden. They still don't seem to have spread; the NBN atlas maps is pretty devoid of dots - except there is one for Leics., a 2018 record from a garden. It must be spreading, and whilst info seems a bit sparse I wonder if the abundance of native Hypericum spp. at Ketton Quarry is relevant. Needless to say, it's a new one for me.

The other bug that has been bugging me is this; a smallish, entirely all dark and quite hairy thing ....

Earlier this evening I had one more trawl through British Bugs and realised why I was missing it: this is a macropterous form of Orthocephalus coriaceus, a widespread but local bug of grasslands. No VC55 dots on the NBN maps, and no previous records as far as I can tell. And again, new for me.

Great stuff. I seem to be quite lucky lately in that although I'm limiting the number of specimens collected to check out quite a good percentage of them have been new for me and significant for VC55.

Here's a few flower buds from the same visit to fill the page a bit ...

Yellow Bird's-nest

Deadly Nightshade

Hedge Woundwort

Bladder Campion

Common Spotted Orchid

And because I can, another Stenurella melanura - Ketton Quarry seems to be a good site for this longhorn in VC55 .....

Thursday, 18 June 2020

Lightning, Man!

Another attempt with the new editor. I've logged comments and feedback, and so far had fuck all feedback from Google / Blogger / whoever. I suspect the aim is to make the editor better for on the hoof blogging by phone users, and fucking useless for more conventional blogging. I think I can work around everything except the labelling at the minute - which I will try again when I've finished typing and aligning pictures etc ....

So far this evening, it's the first day since Monday that we've not endured late evening torrential rain and thunderstorms just before dusk. We have plenty of rain today though, just without the cracks and humidity. Consquently the moth trap has not been out since Sunday night. Here's a couple from that trap, and a couple of screen captures from a short bit of vid I managed to catch of some of the lightning on Tuesday evening.

Large Tabby
The third garden record, singles in July 2006 and July 2010

Coronet - a particularly smart individual

Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Pot Luck!

Remember I mentioned that I nipped out for a walk on Sunday afternoon, after a day of heavy showers. I took no net, but managed to pot by hand a selection of diptera, sawflies and one ichneumon from umbelifer flowers. Turned out to be a bit of pot(ting) luck in all respects; of the six specimens that I selected for pinning, five are new to me. One of those may even be new for VC55.

I can't claim any credit for the ID of this Tachinid, I had a wild guess and Chris Raper promptly put a better name to it ......

This is Linnaemya picta, only added to the British list in c2008 and has been spreading with a big surge in the last year or so. Can't see any dots for VC55 on NBN Atlas maps ....

Some of the facial bristles are key to separating from Linnaemya tessellans.

The other dipteran tick was this small-ish hoverfly, Riponnensia splendens. The facial dusting, metallic bronze thorax and dull mat stripe along the abdomen, along with size at c7mm, separate it from similar species.

A couple of sawfly ticks were these ....

Arge melanochra
Hind femur black and black smudge at the stigma not across wing help separate from the ubiquitous Bramble Sawfly (Arge cyanocrocea)

Cephus pygmaeus
Antennal segments thickened towards tip, bifid claws, hind tibia dark (not yellow) help separate it from Cephus spinipes

Finally an ichneumon that looks great, like many do, only to find it could be one of several species. However concensus reached that it is Ichneumon suspiciosus based on antennal characters, notably the antennal tyloids on segments 7 to 15.