Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Rare Wasp?

I'm still waiting for confirmation but I believe this to be a female Odynerus melanocephalus a nationally "Notable A" species, seen today at Sandy Smith NR.

If anyone sees a wasp like this, with wings folded lengthways and white (rather than yellow) bands on the abdomen, please let me know, as it may be this species. It would be good to know where else it may be...

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Red Admiral sets sail

Greeted this morning by a fresh Red Admiral on the inside of my living room window. (Must wash it occasionally!). The caterpillar blogged on 17th May eating its last leaf has now passed through the pupal stage in just 11 days to become this fresh butterfly, now flying free in the great outdoors. The egg was laid just 36 days earlier.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Sleepy Bee

Another photo of a bee resting by clamping its mandibles onto foliage, this time a wind-tossed grass at Fenlake Meadows.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Ton Up!

Despite the recently gloomy weather construction of the wasp nest has continued. The entrance tube has now been shortened (still no idea what it was for) and work started on another layer of skin. I haven't watched the nest for a while so I don't know if this is still the work of the queen alone or if she now has workers to assist. (Its too cold today for any activity to observe).

Apparently this is my 100th Blog entry! Its amazing how time flies when you are having fun!

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Army or Air Force?

Soldier beetles made a fun target today on Maulden Heath despite the wind playing havoc with close focusing. This first one looks like a base-jumper...

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Daily dose

Needed my fix of macro but left it a bit late, diving into my front garden for the final rays of sunshine. Bombus pratorum workers were busy on the blue salvia making a colourful combination:

Then in deep shade spotted this amazingly coloured beetle with its head buried in a mint, so you'll have to make do with a close-up of its bum...

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Clutch of Eggs

Spotted this clutch of eggs on blackthorn at Mowsbury Hill this evening. After Andy and Melissa thought they weren't a moth's I then asked Bernard and Sheila if they had a notion. Bernard came up trumps with an identifcation of Troilus luridus, the Bronze Shieldbug...

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Nice syrup

On these cold gloomy days I've taken to grovelling around in the undergrowth looking for micros (honest officer!), David Manning then being kind enough to confirm my IDs, or provide them for those I struggle with (which is most!). These especially small ones at Mowsbury Hill today were confirmed as Micropterix aruncella.

At least they move more slowly in the cold weather, if only it was a bit brighter so that I didn't have to resort to ISO 1600!

Last Meal

Remember the Red Admiral egg posted on 27th April? Three weeks later the caterpillar is now getting through a leaf per day, finishing off one here...

Off to find another...

Then sewing the leaf into a tent inside which it then started to feed again.

(Wish it had done this on a sunny day. The gloom meant using flash, which this camera doesn't do well with macro).

This turned out to be the final leaf. It has now sewn up one more inside which it is starting to pupate exactly three weeks after the egg hatched, all this occuring on my living room window sill. (Some people have house plants I understand?)

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Sandy Smith NR insects

Despite the cold blustery overcast conditions managed to find a few interesting things at Sandy Smith NR today.

Alabonia geoffrella:

Male Oedemera nobilis:

Exuvia of a Chaser atop a horsetail:


Do bees sleep? Yes, well maybe, they certainly roost, sometimes communally. Here's a male Nomada hanging from the tip of a bramble leaf by his mandibles, waiting for better weather at Sandy Smith NR today. (Many bees grasp foliage in their mandibles when they roost out in the open like this). Imagine if it started raining, he would have a torrent in his face!

While photographing it in gloomy blustery conditions the sun briefly came out and he twitched his legs as though coming out of a deep sleep, then it clouded over and he went back to his Zzzzs.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011


Its funny, I had been expecting to ask if you knew the connection between these three photos (other than all being taken at Sandhouse Lane NR today):

The top one is Chrysis viridula, a cuckoo wasp of the ground-nesting species Odynerus spinipes and Odynerus melanocephalus.

The middle one is a chimney on top of a nest made by a female of one of these two Odynerus species, but I don't know which as I didn't see a wasp using it.

I was expecting to say that the bottom photo was a male of one of the two Odynerus species, but when I checked the ID it actually keyed out as Gymnomerus laevipes a species that nests in stems like bramble and has no connection with either of the other two photos after all!

It just underlines the need to check details closely and not jump to conclusions. (Hopefully I have these IDs right and won't find that I actually needed to check them even more closely...!)

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Nectar Thieves

Plants like comphrey have such long flowers that only long-tongued bees can reach the nectar. Some bees therefore cheat and bite a hole in the petals to get at the nectaries. These honey bees at Rowney Warren today weren't actually making holes, but were taking advantage of pre-created ones. I wonder which species of bee made them? These particular flowers weren't being pollenated anyway.

Old Warden Tunnel - TL113446

If you stand still and look carefully there's an awful lot to see. Everything below was found within a small portion of TL113446 today...

Silver-ground Carpet:

One of the Nomada species of cuckoo bees (difficult to ID without putting under a microscope). It is a female though (12 antennal segments):

A Chrysopa perla lacewing:

A Helophilus pendulus hoverfly:

Anaglyptus mysticus longhorn beetle:

Possibly the tiny Cocksfoot Moth Glyphipterix simpliciella on a speedwell flower:

Whilst at ground level took an arty pic of a species of Veronica (a speedwell sp.)

She's added a porch

My prediction of yesterday was wrong. The tube wasn't flared or joined to the new skin, but was actually extended into this very long tube. I've since read a little about this species and this is normal in these early stages, but no-one seems sure what it's for:

Saturday, 7 May 2011

New neighbours

A couple of days ago I spotted the beginnings of a wasp nest hanging from my eaves. There was an inverted "bottle-kiln" shaped covering with the entrance at the bottom. Construction of a larger outer skin had started.

I could guess the species from the shape but couldn't confirm it until today when I had a bit of time to watch. By now the outer skin was complete and work on re-shaping the entrance into a flared funnel was underway.

The queen walked backwards dribbling more liquid paper and shaping it with her mandibles. Round and around she went, first one one, then the other, and within a few minutes a few mm of soggy paper tubing had been constructed. You can see the damp ring on these two photos.

I'm guessing this flared entrance will next be connected to the new covering, but I'll have to wait and see. I wonder what happens to the old surface which is now inside. Is it removed and perhaps recycled into the next outer layer? Somewhere inside are cells in which the first-born will be developing. It's amazing what a single insect without any plans to work from can achieve!

The queen hasn't been bothered at all by me hanging out of the spare bedroom window photographing her. The lighting is terrible - shadowy eaves, bright sky. Still trying to discover the optimum settings.

I had a wasps nest inside the roof on the other side of the house a few years ago which proved to be no problem. I hope this one will be as benign...

The species? Dolichovespula media.