Saturday, 27 March 2010

Hoverfly and Clearwing

I don't know the name of this small hoverfly but there were plenty of them in the garden today, making the most of the unexpected mid-day sunshine. Is it Eupeodes luniger?

I had noticed plenty of insect activity around the catkins of Kilmarnock Willows at the Otley Garden Centre this morning where honey bees and bumble bees were much in evidence, so I decided to check my own tree.

Bombus terrestris bumble bees are visiting the heather and also investigating possible nest sites in the dry stone wall.

The smaller photograph shows the light brown head and dull white shoulders of a Currant Clearwing (Synanthedon tipuliformis) larva eating the pith of a blackcurrant stem in my back garden.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

A tortrix larva on Cowberry.

When I brought my Cowberry plant to the Bramham meeting a couple of people pointed out that the leaves on one of the plant tips were spun together into a hibernaculum.
Today, I decided to have a look inside and, sure enough, a rather active, small, dark tortrix larva was revealed as the industrious occupant.
A text search of the UKMoths website leads me to believe that it is likely to either be Rhopobota ustomaculana or Olethreutes mygindiana. According to Sutton and Beaumont; the first species is said to be "Recorded among cowberry on the Pennine moors in vice counties 63 to 65 where it is locally fairly common." The latter is also described as "Locally common on the higher moors."
I will rear the larva through to the adult and, having just read the description in Jozef Razowski's Tortricidae of Europe I am expecting it to be Olethreutes mygindiana.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Spring has sprung!

Lesser Celandine Ranunculus ficaria is a common weed in my garden and is one of the earliest of Britain's wildflowers to appear in the Spring. I have been waiting for it to appear this year and there was a solitary bloom in the sunshine today.

William Wordsworth wrote:

There is a flower, the lesser Celandine
That shrinks, like many more, from cold and rain
And, the first moment that the sun may shine
Bright as the sun himself, 'tis out again!
I have also found a couple of beetles today, only one of which I can identify with any confidence. The Varied Carpet Beetle Anthrenus verbasci was flying around my lounge and, after reading of its larva's predeliction for soft furnishings, I released it onto a crocus outside!
The unidentified wood-boring beetle is an inhabitant of a decaying sycamore trunk. It is 3mm in length; Could it be one of the Anobiidae?
And finally, a Red Kite Milvus milvus flying over the Tranmere Park housing estate in Guiseley. They seem to be getting closer and closer to my home in Baildon.

Friday, 12 March 2010

1128 Ancylis myrtillana and Green Shield Bug

On 10th March 2010 I found that this fine specimen of Ancylis myrtillana had emerged from its over-wintering case constructed from a folded over bilberry leaf.

I had found the larva (see smaller photo) on Bleara Moor in the far North-west corner of VC63 Map Ref: SD918457 on Friday 18th September 2009 i.e. National Moth Night. I wonder how many specimens of this species were recorded on that date?

The third photograph shows the newly-emerged moth adjacent to its case.

Yesterday morning was bright and sunny and, amongst the garden sage, I found my first Green Shield Bug (Palomena prasina) of the year. I didn't immediately recognise it because it still sported the bronze colouration adopted by this species during hibernation.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Water Shrew and Cowberry.

Last night my cat, Ziggy, brought home a Water Shrew Neomys fodiens which was a surprise as my garden "pond" really amounts to no more than a puddle!

I am not sure of the status of this small mammal in West Yorkshire. Ziggy normally specialises in House Mice.

The Water Shrew is larger than other shrews, this one being more than 10cm in length. The ears on this species are entirely concealed but bear a tuft of white hairs as can be discerned on this photograph.
I have spent the winter preparing a list of leafmines to look for in 2010 and I took advantage of today's fine weather to ascend Barden Moor (VC64) in search of Cowberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea). I managed to locate some hosting the under-recorded mine Ectoedemia weaveri.
Now is a good time to look for the evergreen Cowberry, before the much more frequently found, Bilberry comes into leaf.