Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Phyllocnistis unipunctella at Shipley Station

More half-term leaf-mining this morning resulted in this Phyllocnistis unipunctella on a Black Poplar in the car park of Shipley Station.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Coleophora lusciniaepennella, Stigmella salicis, Stigmella trimaculella

I went back to Ben Rhydding Gravel Pits to establish exactly which species of willow the Stigmella salicis larvae are mining. I am now confident that this is Salix cinerea. I did also find vacated mines on Salix caprea where I also found another Coleophora lusciniaepennella case-bearing larva.
This morning I found a new species for me in the form of Stigmella trimaculella on the roadside poplars opposite Otley Garden Centre.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Stripping the Willow

I had a productive hour at Ben Rhydding Gravel Pits this morning searching a couple of willow trees for leafmines. I even found a pale brown tortrix moth on the under-surface of a leaf but clumsily failed to pot it.
I think the case-bearer is probably Coleophora lusciniaepennella which is a new species for me.

The contorted mine with larva still present is likely to be Stigmella salicis.
The empty cone formed at the leaf tip could have been made by Caloptilia stigmatella?

Friday, 15 October 2010

Grete Herball

Fungi ben mussherooms; there be two manners of them, one manner is deedley and slayeth them that eateth them and be called tode stoles, and the other doeth not.
These fungi were photographed in Middleton Woods, near Ilkley, today.
To see some much better fungi photographs, have a look at Dean's site here.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

A Comma emerges

The long promised sunny spell finally arrived on Sunday 10th October and after watching a Comma nectaring on my Sedum spectabile I noticed another one emerging from its chrysalis on the Hop.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Strange Goings-on!

Garden Spiders (Araneus diadematus) are abundant in the garden at present and have started to build web bridges between their shrubbery and my car each morning.
An idiot moth has laid eggs on a sock drying on our washing line. Commonest things being commonest, I suspect the species to be a Large Yellow Underwing and have released the young larvae into the weedy part of the lawn.
I have just watched a Red Admiral butterfly displace a Small White from an Edelweiss flower. That's a first for me, here in West Yorkshire, but it's probably not an unusual scenario in the Austrian Alps!

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Grey Dagger Caterpillars

I discovered last year that Grey Dagger caterpillars are easily found on isolated Rowan trees like this one on Barden Moor.
I returned to the same tree last weekend and took this photograph.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Comma pupates

A Comma caterpillar, from my garden Elm, pupated today. The discarded larval skin can be seen close to the point where the pupa is attached to the twig.

Chrysalids of this species typically last 10-20 days.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Holly Blues and Harley Davidsons

The August Bank Holiday in Baildon brings both Holly Blues and Harley Davidson motorbikes.
I've also just seen a Large White butterfly that seemed to be the size of a dinner plate!

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Masked Mugwort Muncher

Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) can be found in unmanaged grassland and its distinctive flower-spikes are easily seen on road verges. Yesterday, whilst driving along the M62, I noticed that Mugwort grows alongside the motorway almost to the highest point at Junction 22.
This "masked" caterpillar was found on Mugwort growing at Apperley Bridge VC64 on 23rd July 2010.
It grew quickly over the next couple of weeks before pupating and emerging as a Silver Y moth (Autographa gamma) on 21st August.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Back Home

I arrived back from the annual holiday in France last weekend. This moth with the spectacular antennae emerged from a caterpillar that I found wandering across the supermarket car-park at Mondeville2 in Normandy.

Don't panic! The moth was released in France. I wouldn't want to import trouble. Having said that the French are not averse to gypsies leaving France.
Whilst on holiday, my Rosebay Willowherb beetle larvae pupated and then emerged as adults. The appear to be Flea Beetles of the genus Altica and could be either lythri, palustris or oleracea. Apparently these three species are difficult to tell apart.
I kept having to "rescue" Cinnabar moth larvae in the garden of the rural gite where we stayed. These were devouring their Ragwort foodplants and then wandering-off across the gravel drive in search of more food.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Baildon Moor

I spent half an hour on Baildon Moor this morning watching Meadow Browns, Ringlets, Small Heaths and Small Skippers (Thymelicus sylvestris) nectaring on ragwort, thistles and tormentil.

The Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus)seemed to favour tormentil but was easier to photograph on ragwort.


I also tried to photograph some micros in the heather but only the Diamond-back Moth (Plutella xylostella) was easily identifiable.
The orange underside of the Small Skipper's antennae are just visible.It was also nice to see four Small Tortoiseshell's on one garden Buddleia and Large Whites are abundant at present.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Northern Eggar, Mompha raschkiella and Beetles

The first of my Barden Moor, Northern Eggar caterpillars has produced this male imago. I photographed it this morning and it presumably took advantage of the afternoon sunshine to zoom off back towards the moorland.

My remaining caterpillar has yet to pupate.

The second photograph shows a mine in the leaf of Rosebay Willowherb which I think was made by the larva of Mompha raschkiella.

The final picture shows five beetle larvae devouring a leaf of Rosebay Willowherb (Epilobium angustifolium).

It will be a challenge to work out which species of beetle this is!

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Butterflies and Moths this weekend!

I seem to have spent a lot of time this weekend seeking out Rosebay Willowherb (Chamerion angustifolium) in an attempt to find leafmines of Mompha raschkiella. It is Dean Stables's fault for publishing a photo on his blog! I'm also looking for Mugwort at the moment and Phyl Abbott (Plant Atlas of Mid-west Yorkshire) suggests that this often grows with Nettle and Rosebay Willowherb in unmanaged grassland.

On a nettle-patch between Jerrison Wood and Spring Wood at Esholt I saw the greatest concentration of Commas that I have ever seen in one place. There were also Red Admirals, Large Whites, Ringlets, Meadow Browns and Gatekeepers.

I will try to remember to return here at the end of August to search for Comma caterpillars which I have only ever found on elm.

I could only find vacated mines on the willowherb apart from one which seems to contain several tiny beetle larvae.

I will have to keep searching the Rosebay Willowherb in the hope of finding a tenanted mine.

Stopping the car by yet another stand of Rosebay Willowherb, near Menston, I noticed this Yellow Shell (Camptogramma bilineata).

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Meadowsweet and Field Maple

Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) has burst into flower during the last ten days.

A remarkable variety of insects can be seen plunging into the fragrant flower plumes. I found this longhorn beetle near Askwith. I think it might be Stenocorus cursor.


I was actually, rather optimistically, looking for the leafmine Stigmella ulmariae which would have been a first Yorkshire record! Perhaps I will have more luck at the end of September. I did find a few dipterous mines.
At a woodland edge, opposite the church at Denton, I opened a folded leaf of Field Maple (Acer campestre) to find a caterpillar of the tortrix moth, Acleris sparsana.
What appeared to be a French Partridge was skulking nearby, and a sizable flock of Greylag Geese (Anser anser) are resident at Denton Park.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Pandemis corylana on Alder Buckthorn

On 27th June 2010 I found a small green caterpillar in a rolled leaf on my Alder Buckthorn (Frangula alnus).
Despite suspecting it to be the ubiquitous Epiphyas postvittana, I kept the larva which soon pupated.
On the 13th July 2010 I was pleased to discover that a pristine Pandemis corylana had emerged.
Otherwise known as the Chequered Fruit-tree Tortrix, the larvae of Pandemis corylana are known to feed on a wide variety of trees and shrubs.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Antler Moth

The Antler Moth (Cerapteryx graminis) seems to live life in the fast lane. I found a couple of larvae on Barden Moor on 21st May 2010 which were racing around the ground on a very hot day. I had presumed that they were either looking for fresh foodplants or a pupation site.
This moth emerged this morning and is photographed on Bog Myrtle where it rested for only a few minutes before flying around the garden, in broad daylight, at break-neck speed.


This Cat's-ear (Hypochoeris radicata) is a weed in my lawn but it is so bright and cheery that I have been mowing around it for the last couple of years!
Selfheal (Prunella vulgaris) is another lawn resident. I noticed this morning that you can actually buy this in the garden centre!

Saturday, 10 July 2010

The Enchanted Wood

I visited Middleton Woods, near Ilkley, this morning and discovered a plant that I have been searching for; Enchanter's-nightshade (Circaea lutetiana). It is not a particularly rare plant and grows in moister woodlands and beside shady tracksides at low altitude.

I was hoping to find leafmines of Mompha langiella but no luck this time.

There are lots of old and rotten trees here and when I last visited, ealier this year, I found nesting Great Spotted Woodpeckers (Dendrocopis major).

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Bolton Abbey Railway Station

I have been visiting Bolton Abbey Railway Station for many years and love to see the Common Blue butterflies (Polyommatus icarus) flying amongst the various species of wild orchid.

There is a fenced-off area of wildflower meadow adjacent to the car park which is home to strong colonies of both the Common Blue and the Six-Spot Burnet moth (Zygaena filipendulae).
Grasshoppers and Soldier Beetles were also much in evidence this morning.
The Shaded Broad-bar (Scotopteryx chenopodiata) was actually flying on the verge of the Burley-in-Wharfedale bypass where I stopped en route.

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

White-letter Hairstreak (Satyrium w-album)

Both my White-letter Hairstreaks have emerged this week.
This is the best photograph that I managed to achieve yesterday evening before this second individual flew off to the top of my garden elm tree.
A superb little butterfly!

Saturday, 26 June 2010

White-banded Drone Fly (Volucella pellucens)

I took this photograph yesterday afternoon whilst looking for Currant Clearwings on my blackcurrant bushes. I think it is the White-banded Drone Fly (Volucella pellucens).

I only realised that it was a hoverfly after seeing a photograph of a similar insect (Leucozona lucorum) in the British Wildlife magazine that arrived this week. In the magazine Roger Morris (joint organiser of the Hoverfly Recording Scheme) has written an article about web-based natural history recording. He comments that weblogs and networking sites represent a new form of natural-history society. The Yorkshire Naturalists Union (of which I am a member) also gets a mention in the article where it is given as an example of the traditional natural-history society, maintaining a database and having a network of county recorders. What a shame that, even after studying my YNU list of recorders, I am not immediately sure who I could email this photo to with the essential labels: locality, date, grid reference and recorder's name.

The Yorkshire Naturalists Union's Lepidoptera Group has made advances in the collation of electronic records of both butterflies and moths. Howard Frost should be given credit for devising the Butterfly Conservation Yorkshire Branch members' network of Vice-County co-ordinators which enables butterfly records to be uploaded via the Levana program. Charlie Fletcher has been the main catalyst behind the success of Yorkshire's Mapmate-based moth recording system. Harry Beaumont and Philip Winter provide a wealth of experience and knowledge and are able to advise when photography alone is insufficient for reliable identification of specimens.
I suspect that the Pyralid moth photographed here is Scoparia ambigualis. It emerged from the moss on my coal bunker yesterday. I suppose that another possibility would be Eudonia truncicolella, another moss-feeder which Harry has identified for me before now. To be sure of the identity of this moth I could have sent the specimen to Harry or Charlie but can anyone have a stab at it from the photo?
Post Script: It didn't take long for Charlie Fletcher and Tony Davis on the Yorkshiremoths yahoogroup to confirm that this moth is indeed Eudonia truncicolella. The pointed forewings are the give-away sign.