Friday, 9 December 2011

Parasitic Hymenoptera

This Cryptine Ichneumon is Charitopes carri (Roman) and was one of several seen exploring the crevices of a Sycamore trunk during the last week of October.
It will have been looking to oviposit into the cocoons of lacewing larvae.
There are some excellent parasitoid photographs on Charlie Streets's Moths of Calderdale site.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Pnigalio mediterraneus

After reading an article in British Wildlife entitled "The Horse-chestnut Leaf-miner and its parasitoids", I decided to investigate what was happening on my own tree.
Preliminary results have led me to believe that I have a healthy population of Cameraria ohridella with assosciated populations of the chalcid parasitoids Sympiesis sericeicornis and Pnigalio mediterraneus.
The insect in the photograph is a female Pnigalio mediterraneus.

Friday, 17 June 2011

White-letter Hairstreak and Ectoedemia minimella

There were a few sunny spells this morning and, during one of them, I was lucky enough to be able to find this White-letter Hairstreak (Satyrium w-album) on a local elm.
I also received a letter from Harry Beaumont today:
A specimen from my excursion to Timble Ings, last Saturday, turns out to be Ectoedemia minimella rather than the Stigmella sp. that I had suspected.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Assembling Northern Eggars

On Friday 3rd June 2011 I discovered that a female Northern Eggar had emerged from a caterpillar found on Barden Moor last year.
Having read about "assembling" I took the moth up to Baildon Moor in the late afternoon sunshine and placed it carefully on a clump of bilberry.
Within a couple of minutes, a male arrived swiftly followed by another, and then another.
The two surplus males soon did the decent thing and allowed the first arrival to complete his courtship.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Another one bites the dust............

Everything seemed to be going well for this little caterpillar of the Pale Brindled Beauty (Phigalia pilosaria) found on an Ash near Grassington.
A cocoon has now appeared which belongs to one of the Microgastrinae group of parasitoids.
It is likely to be a Glyptapantales sp. or perhaps Protapantales with Cotesia a fainter possibility.
Hopefully time will tell.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Dotted Border pupates

A caterpillar that I found feeding on oak in Hawksworth Wood on the 14th May has now pupated.
The distinctive colouration of the pupa has now enabled me to identify the caterpillar as that of the Dotted Border (Agriopis marginaria).
Now the challenge is to try and keep it in the hope of the adult being the flightless female which I have never seen.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

The Grinning Egg

I thought that I had found some moth eggs on the undersurface of an elm leaf this morning but then realised that I had been caught out like this before!

Remember the story of the Ova with smiley faces?

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Ichneumon pupa ex Dun-bar larva

I have been rearing a caterpillar of the Dun-bar (Cosmia trapezina) found on Beech at Hawksworth wood on 14th May 2011.

Yesterday, I looked inside its container to find that the caterpillar's innards are now contained within the pupa of an ichneumon wasp. Mark Shaw has since identified this for me as Scirtetes robustus.

It will be fascinating to see what the resultant parasitoid imago looks like.

Monday, 2 May 2011

The Oxford Bee Company and Orange Tips

Very blustery weather has predominated over the last couple of days but the continuing bright sunshine is appreciated by most of us.

There is a profusion of Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata) growing by the roadsides and many of these stems are now dotted with the bright orange eggs of the Orange Tip butterfly.

Red Mason Bees (Osmia rufa) are busy cementing up the cardboard tubes of my Oxford Bee Company nesting box.

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Campoplex sp.

Another parasitoid, this one emerging in a container full of teasel heads collected from the Knaresborough bypass.

I am assuming that the host was a larva of the tortricid moth Endothenia gentianaeana as these seem to occupy most of the teasels here.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Grass Wood

Grass Wood, near Grassington in North Yorkshire is an area of ash woodland with an under-storey of hazel and bird-cherry. Yesterday morning I had chance for a brief foray into the wood and on the south-east facing part of a sycamore trunk I noticed a patch of lichens. Closer examination of the lichen revealed a couple of resting micro-moths that I recognised as belonging to the Phyllonorycter genus. These could well be examples of "Nut Leaf Blister Moth" (Phyllonorycter coryli). There are actually two of them on the lower photograph here, demonstrating their camouflage!

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Spring Sunshine

Beautiful Spring sunshine again today. I decided to wait in the garden in the hope of seeing my first Orange Tip and Holly Blue of the year. The first butterfly to catch my eye was a Speckled Wood which seemed to be admiring its own reflection on a dead laurel leaf. A couple of Large Whites flew through and a Comma stayed for a couple of minutes. No Orange Tips yet but a Holly Blue showed interest in one of my topiaried trees. I'm not good at Ladybird identification so if anyone can recognise these three............
I am thinking they could be Harlequin (Harmonia axyridis), Pine Ladybird (Exochomus 4-pustulatus) and Orange Ladybird (Halyzia 16-guttata).

Friday, 8 April 2011

There's no hiding place!

There has been an emergence from one of the cases of Narycia duplicella collected from the Laund Oak in mid-March.

Not a moth, but a splendid parasitoid male Diadegma sp.

I am hoping that Mark Shaw or Klaus Horstmann will be able to determine the exact species.

The remaining case seems to contain a live duplicella larva.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Emorsgate Seeds

There is something therapeutic about sowing wildflower seeds whilst partaking of the appropriate refreshment!

I have been impressed with the mail-order service provided by Emorsgate Seeds.

Now I can just sit back and enjoy the results.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

A Lichen-feeder on the Laund Oak

I went to visit The Laund Oak, near Bolton Abbey, this morning, a tree which is more than 800 years old!
I was lucky to find the sun shining and a Chiffchaff sang nearby as I watched a Common Buzzard fly over the adjacent hillside.
The south facing bole of the tree is covered in a myriad of lichens, closer inspection of which revealed a couple of grazing case-bearing moth larvae.
Narycia duplicella is, no doubt, under-recorded in Yorkshire and this site may be one of the most westerly records so far.
A case is shown in the lower left-hand corner of the bottom picture here, the middle picture illustrating podetia of one of the Cladonia genus of lichen.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

With frogs for their watch-dogs

There are signs of Spring in the pond. I visited Timble Ings last week and frogs were very active in the shallows, even at mid-day.
Today, I pulled a few leaves out of one of my tiny garden ponds and was surprised to find three Palmate Newts (Triturus helveticus) had already returned to the water. I shall have to purchase some more Water Forget-me-not (Myosotis scorpiodes) which I have found to be their preferred vegetation for egg-laying in previous years.
The flowers in the photograph are those of Primrose (Primula vulgaris) but I almost included my first lawn Daisy (Bellis perennis) of the year which cheered me up this morning.
The Song Thrush has returned to the garden.
Why the title? I noticed in the stats section of the blog that lines from poems attract the most visitors!

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Hibernating larvae of Olethreutes mygindiana

The beauty of Cowberry is that it is an evergreen and therefore easily distinguished from Bilberry at this time of year.
On Wednesday 2nd February 2011, I climbed up to my favourite Cowberry patch on Barden Moor to look for the hibernating larvae of Olethreutes mygindiana.
I soon found a couple of hibernacula consisting of spun-together leaves and each containing a solitary reddish brown 5-6mm long caterpillar.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

The Outside Light

I have had an outside light installed at the back of my house with the intention of monitoring the insects that it attracts.
The bulb is a 15W low energy model. I have heard that low energy bulbs emit more UV light than the old-fashioned filament types and should therefore bring in more moths.
My first project for 2011.