Saturday, 11 July 2009

Saturday 11th.July 2009

'After the Lord Mayor's Show' , is the only way I can describe today's weather . I feel really sorry for people who work all week , then , hoping to get out and see what's about , find very little because of the weather .
In between showers , I managed to get out this afternoon , just for a walk on the Common . I didn't bother with the Ash tree , and just had a general look around . Having found the eggs and the caterpillars , I had a look for thechrysalis of the Brimstone , without success , before having to shelter from the next shower . Very few butterflies were on the wing , but I did manage to get a shot of a female Gatekeeper , a bit larger than the male ,and lacks that sex brand on each of the forewings . She was keeping her head down , well away from where I have been finding the males . I also found a single Holly Blue , nectaring on
Bramble flower . Without the sun , it refused to open it's wings , but when it flew off , no real dark markings were seen on the forewing , so it was probably a male , only the 3rd. or 4th. that I have recorded this year . Whilst passing , I checked the Small Tortoiseshell eggs on the Nettles , and everything is fine there . Not far from there , I came across an impressive growth of Pleurotus cornucopiae , on the trunk of a dead Oak tree . That was basically it , until I got back near the car , and noticed red and orange on the head of a gone over Hogweed . A closer look confirmed that they were 3 Ladybirds . All 3 were totally different in colouration . The middle one was the easiest to ID , as it had 7 spots , a native . The one on the left , black with four orange spots , sounded very much like the one Ken/Halling mentioned last night , and I think as well is a Harlequin Ladybird . The one on the right is a positive Harliquin Ladybird , with that W or M , depending how you look at it , black marking on the white plate behind the head . These are two of the 3 most common colour/spot combinations found , the other being black with two red or orange spots , but there are 20+ different combinations . These insects originate in Asia , and were introduced to control aphids in greenhouses etc . First recorded in the SE in September 04 , they have now reached the north of Scotland . Being larger , they out compete the 46 native species , and when food is scarce , will turn to butterfly eggs and caterpillars , Lacewings , Ladybird larvae , and even the Ladybirds themselves . to my mind , another case of man messing with nature , and now we will pay for it .


Ken Browne. said...

Hi Greenie.
Nice Photo's. It seems as if there is a huge amount of Ladybirds about at this moment in time. I went to see if the young Sparrowhawks were still there today,there was no sign of them so I am assuming that they have all left the nest, unless the smallest one/ones were lying low in the nest. As I was saying, again there was a good number, and variety of Ladybirds about. I have never seen so many. It is great to get such close views of them. I wonder why there are so many Harlequin's about this year?
Have a good weekend.

Warren Baker said...

As Ken says, it looks a good year for lady birds Greenie, especially Harlequins, I saw scores of LB's on a group of nettles, much like the ones you show.

Anonymous said...

Same story with the ladybirds here on the IoW, Greenie - I found dozens on Hemlock yesterday.
I wish I could find some of the interesting butterflies you see so often.

Greenie said...

Ken/Warren ,
When you consider that the Harlequin Ladybird can go from egg to adult in 2/3 weeks if the temperature is around 25C , then after 5 days , that adult is capable of laying 1000s of eggs . Combined with aphids , their main food source , also exploding in those temperatures , it's not surprising that we have so many at the moment , given that really hot spell we had .
Still not as many as when we were 'invaded' by Ladybirds , about 15 years ago , or so .

Greenie said...

Rambling Rob ,
Keep looking , you will find them .
You have species on the Island that we don't get here - Glanville Fritillary , I'd love to see that .

Anonymous said...

Oddly enough, I did find the Glanville Fritillaries just up the coast a bit back in May, see here -

- but it's all those other great fritillaries, hairstreaks and White Admirals of yours I'm missing. As you say, 'Keep looking'.

Meanwhile I find your blog an excellent read.

John Young said...

Hi Fred, some great posts as always, loads of interest. Put another post on my blog today but don't worry that will be it for a while and plenty of July left to enjoy. Cheers, John