Sunday, 30 May 2010

White-letter Hairstreak larva

I found this White-letter Hairstreak caterpillar feeding on Wych Elm at Hollins Hall Hotel, Baildon today.
I think it is almost full-grown with a length of 15-16mm so I should hopefully be able to keep it until it pupates with the possibility of an adult emerging in about a month.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

A surprise Bright-line Brown-eye (Lacanobia oleracea)

I was surprised to find this Bright-line Brown-eye in my emergence tank yesterday. I had forgotten finding a caterpillar of this species climbing the inside of my shed door on 20th September 2009.

I am not sure which foodplant this polyphagous larva had been eating but there is plenty of choice in my weed-filled garden! As can be seen from this photograph the caterpillar is quite distinctive.

This morning an Esperia sulpurella was on the inside of the patio door. The larvae of this species feed on dead wood and the adults fly in the day-time during May and June. I have rarely used my light trap this season and am enjoying finding things to photograph as they turn-up.

Water Avens (Geum rivale) is one of the wildflowers that I determined to familiarise myself with this year. It is not uncommon and grows beside streams and in areas of damp woodland.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

A Parasitoid of Ectoedemia weaveri

A parasitoid has emerged from one of my Cowberry mines. The exit hole is clearly visible in the cocoon of Ectoedemia weaveri.
I am unsure if this is a chalcidoid or a braconid so have emailed the photo to Mark Shaw and Dick Askew for advice.
Watch this space!

Friday, 21 May 2010

Stonechats and Strawberries

After this Rhopobota ustomaculana emerged yesterday, I decided to revisit Barden Moor and try to photograph the Cowberry in flower.

I made the ascent to Lower Barden Reservoir, this morning, in warm sunshine and was surprised by the numbers of Wild Strawberry flowers growing alongside the path. These seemed to be providing the main nectar source for the abundant Green-veined White butterflies, one of which I saw being grabbed by a spider (look underneath the butterfly!)
I also spotted a couple of Small Coppers and a Peacock.

I finally found a Cowberry flower but think that they will be more in evidence in another fortnight or so. A pair of Stonechats were frustratingly out-of-range of my camera on the east bank of the reservoir.

A couple of these 2cm long caterpillars were found crossing the track at two separate locations. I wonder if these might be Antler Moth?

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Back to Barden

I spent 30 minutes on Barden Moor yesterday afternoon (National Moth Night) in sunny, but breezy, conditions.

A pair of Lapwings chased me along the path presumably warning me away from their chicks.

I didn't venture too far up the hill, this time, but spent some time looking in the heather for larvae and was rewarded with the find of another Northern Eggar caterpillar.

I then noticed a small micro-moth, low down amongst the heather, which I briefly potted to photograph. This is Argyrotaenia ljungiana which can be common on moorland and heaths in all five Yorkshire vice-counties.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Parasitism amongst the Sage

On the 11th April 2010 I noticed a dead noctuid caterpillar lying on top of a Sage leaf in my front garden.

The cause of death was easy to establish as there was an obvious Apantales-type cocoon tucked underneath the rear end of the caterpillar. I also recognised the caterpillar as being a half-grown Noctua fimbriata (Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing), presumably a sibling of 75% of the cast starring in my home-made Christmas card last December!

I kept the caterpillar and cocoon in a container and when the adult parasitoid emerged on 30th April 2010, I posted it to Mark Shaw in Edinburgh.

Mark (an Honary Research Associate at The Royal Museum of Scotland) kindly identified the parasitoid as Cotesia hyphantriae (Riley), quite an isolated species in its genus, that is known to overwiner in low-feeding noctuids. He also emailed the caterpillar photograph to Jim Connell (working on caterpillar ecology in Austria) and received confirmation that the caterpillar was, indeed, Noctua fimbriata.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Here's Juno

My first Phyllonorycter junoniella emerged this morning from one of the Cowberry mines collected from Barden Moor, VC64.

Surprisingly this was from the leaf that hadn't fallen from the plant.

The smaller photograph shows the empty pupal case which has been extruded from the leaf.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Phyllonorycter junoniella pupa

This morning I noticed that one of the Cowberry leaves, mined by a Phyllonorycter junoniella larva, had fallen from the plant.
Opening the mine revealed a yellow pupa which wriggled when disturbed.
The adults are usually on the wing in June and July so I anticipate a wait of at least a fortnight before this one emerges.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

And after April, when May follows,

Mountain Avens (Dryas octopetala), now in flower, is a rare plant in Yorkshire where it occurs on limestone scars and in short turf near Arncliffe.
According to Wikipedia it is the national flower of Iceland and is therefore presumably tolerant of volcanic ash!
The leaves of this many-branched evergreen have silvery undersides and were thought to resemble oak leaves. Dryad was a wood-nymph in Greek mythology.
Although this plant could host Stigmella pretiosa, I suspect that there would be more chance of finding a first Yorkshire record of this rare leaf-miner on the much commoner Water Avens (Geum rivale).
I saw my first Speckled Wood of the year in the garden today.