Moth News

June 28, 2020

At Brochel I came across two micro-moths of interest. The first is a Bactra sp. that I have sent off for dissection as there is a chance that it is Bactra lacteana which would be exciting this far north, but perhaps more likely B. lancealana which we do have hereabouts. Later: Confirmed as Bactra lacteana – new to the vice-county.

Bactra sp

Bactra sp.

This is a poorly marked Glyphipterix thrasonella (Speckled Fanner):

Glyphipterix thrasonella

Glyphipterix thrasonella

It is described by UKMoths as “A rather distinctive species of Glyphipterix, with its silver and black markings against a bronzy forewing….” However, Nigel who identified it for me, says “I find these poorly marked examples much more frequently than the well-marked type”.

On a larger scale, I have been finding Mottled Beauty e.g. this one on the headlight of a friend’s car

Mottled Beauty

Mottled Beauty

and Silver Y which is easily disturbed from grassland but flies away fast and travels a long way. The only one I have managed to get a halfway decent picture of was this worn specimen:

 

 

Plant News

June 28, 2020

For obvious reasons, plant records have been a bit thin on the ground this year. As well as things already reported here, Neil has found quite a few new tetrad records and a very pleasing new 10 km square record for Carlina vulgaris (Carline Thistle).

He also sent me this image of Armeria maritima (Thrift or Sea Pink) with blue anthers

Armeria maritima

Armeria maritima with Blue Anthers

I read of thrift “There are five white stamens with cream or blue anthers and five white, linear styles.” However, I do not recall ever having noticed blue anthers myself.

My Hieracium collecting has continued and in the process, I have added new tetrads records for Gymnocarpium dryopteris (Oak Fern) (nice – only the sixth site on Raasay), Asplenium adiantum-nigrum (Black Spleenwort) and, slightly startingly as it is common, Agrostis stolonifera (Creeping Bent).

Gymnocarpium dryopteris

Gymnocarpium dryopteris

I was also pleased to find a good number of Draba incana (Hoary Whitlowgrass) plants above Screapadal – though I have known them there in the past.

Draba incarna and Dryas octopetala

Draba incana and Dryas octopetala

Miners and Rollers

June 28, 2020

One of the Brassica plants in the polytunnel had a leaf mine:

Using the key at the excellent website Plant Parasites of Europe I found it to be the larva of the Large Striped Flea Beetle that had been attacking the turnips.

I have been out on Raasay collecting Hieracium (Hawkweed) specimens for expert determination. For each one, I have taken photographs of it in the field before pressing it and then putting images and details on a web page for the expert to see in conjunction with the pressed specimens. Only once I had done that did I notice a very long mine on one leaf:

Hieracium mine

Hieracium mine

Unfortunately, the specimen has been pressed and put in the freezer for a time, so I am not sure that the larva/pupa, if present, will be in much of a state to help with the identification.

Not far from home I noticed a leaf-roll on Alder:

Rolled Alder Leaf

Rolled Alder Leaf

There is silk there, making a moth larva the likely candidate. There is one, Caloptilia elongella (Pale Red Slender), that causes a roll on Alder, but I am advised that the fold is too untidy for that and it is probably just a polyphagous species that likes Alder e,g, a Tortrix. (Thanks, Seth and Tony.)

However, at Screapadal I did find mines caused by larvae of the sawfly Kaliofenusa (Fenusi) ulmi on Wych Elm:

This is what I was looking for on Wych Elms three weeks ago when I found all sorts of other things instead.

Druim an Aonaich Again

June 22, 2020

There was so much more than orchids last Thursday. But firstly, a Frog Orchid

Coeloglossum viride (Frog Orchid)

Coeloglossum viride (Frog Orchid)

and secondly, Holly-fern

Polystichum lonchitis (Holly-fern)

Polystichum lonchitis (Holly-fern)

Insects included several sawflies of this type, which I feel sure are Abia sericea (Club Horned Sawfly or Scabious Sawfly), but I await expert confirmation. Later: Confirmed. Thanks, Jenni.

and an iridescent beetle, Plateumaris discolor (or possibly P. sericea, but these may be synonymous according to https://www.coleoptera.org.uk. (Thanks to Seth and Stephen M.) Note the large blunt tooth on the hind femora.

I also found a weevil that may be Phyllobius argentatus (Silver-Green Leaf Weevil)

Phyllobius argentatus

Phyllobius argentatus

There was a haar that didn’t lift until mid-afternoon but I was above it in bright sunshine most of the day

Haar

Haar

And finally, some Dryas octopetala (Mountain Avens) still in flower:

Dryas octopetala (Mountain Avens)

Dryas octopetala (Mountain Avens)

 

Orchids

June 20, 2020

A couple of days ago I drove 4 miles to Brae and then walked across the island to Druim an Aonaich, perhaps my favourite place on Raasay.

There were plenty of orchids in flower: Coeloglossum viride (Frog Orchid), Dactylorhiza fuchsii (Common Spotted-orchid), D. maculata (Heath Spotted-orchid), D. purpurella (Northern Marsh-orchid), D. traunsteinerioides (Narrow-leaved Marsh-orchid), Gymnadenia borealis (Heath Fragrant-orchid), Orchis mascula (Early-purple Orchid) and almost, but not quite in flower, Epipactis atrorubens (Dark-red Helleborine).

Dactylorhiza  traunsteinerioides

Dactylorhiza traunsteinerioides

Epipactis atrorubens

Epipactis atrorubens

There were, of course, lots of other excellent limestone-loving plants. The Dryas octopetala (Mountain Avens) had mostly gone to seed, but quite a few flowers remain. The Polystichum lonchitis (Holly-fern) was looking good but the single plant of Polystichum x illyricum (P. aculeatum x lonchitis) has now gone. It was on the bed of a burn that is usually dry because the water drains away through the limestone before reaching the cliff edge. I suspect that during a spell of heavy rain the burn will have flowed all the way to the edge and carried this rare hybrid over for a fall of perhaps 100m.

Meanwhile, Nick found Pseudorchis albida (Small-white Orchid) at Earlish, something he has been looking out for over the years as there was an old record:

Pseudorchis albida

Pseudorchis albida     Image: N.Hodgetts

In the Garden 16th June 2020

June 16, 2020

I had planned another Hawkweeed expedition today as even at 9 am this morning XC Weather showed no rain all day. So far (13.30) it has rained all day, quite heavily at times. I will try again in a day or two.

There are a few new insects to mention. This small planthopper with a distinctive rear-end was on the outside wall of the house:

 

and this fly came indoors, perhaps from the rotting seaweed on the shore:

Neuroctena (Dryomyza) anilis 200614

Neuroctena (Dryomyza) anilis

The moth trap yielded 32 moths of 20 species including Scalloped Hook-tip and Nut-tree Tussock that I have never had before. (Thanks, Keith.)

Scalloped Hook-tip

Scalloped Hook-tip

Finally, this largish hoverfly from the polytunnel “with batman on its back” according to Seth, is Myathropa florea.

Myathropa florea

Myathropa florea

And while I am here, one of the hawkweeds I collected last week at Hallaig had a lot of aphids in the flowers, probably Uroleucon sp. (Thanks, Stephen M.)

Aphid from hawkweed

Uroleucon sp. (probably)

Things on Lime Trees

June 14, 2020

Following up on an article in the recent issue of The Highland Naturalist concerning inter alia the Lime Aphid, Eucallipterus tiliae, I went to look at the Lime (Tilia x europaea) trees in Raasay House grounds. I did find a very few aphids but not at a stage that I could identify. It was a bit impatient really, considering that the image accompanying the article was taken in mid-October.

Aphid on Tilia x europaea

Aphid on Tilia x europaea

However, I did find two sorts of gall, each recorded only once on NBN for the vice-county, both in Portree, one by Carl and one by Neil at rather different times.

This is caused by the dipteran, Contarinia tiliarum:

Contarinia tiliaru

Contarinia tiliarum on Tilia x europaea

and this by the mite Eriophyes leiosoma:

It seems likely that these galls and in due course perhaps the aphid, are waiting to be found on limes across the patch.

Lime map

Known Distribution of LIme Trees

A Day Out

June 14, 2020

I drove less than three miles to Fearns and walked to Hallaig a few days ago. It felt strange that the season had got so far on without me. I collected seven Hieracium (Hawkweed) specimens for expert determination, though I am not sure that I achieved much variety, nor anything scarce. Time will tell.

It was a cracking day for inverts, especially moths. Speckled Yellow had only been recorded on Raasay once before, in 1969. Had I realised that at the time I would have spent time getting a decent picture that wasn’t bleached like this one:

Speckled Yellow

Speckled Yellow

I also saw two Satyr Pugs. These are not common locally and I had not recorded one before.

Satyr Pug

Satyr Pug

This little chap is Pammene rhediella (sometimes called Fruitlet Mining Tortrix) and has few records locally according to NBN.

 

Curiously, the northern one on Rona in NG65 is by Stephen Moran in 2015 – I was there! And the one in the north of the island was found by Neil Roberts and myself on a kayaking trip last year.

Otherwise, there were beetles (Thanks, Ralph)

flies,

Rhagio notatus

Rhagio notatus Large Fleck-winged Snipefly

Galls

butterflies (Common Blue, Red Admiral and many Small Heath) and various other things like this planthopper (Thanks to Stephen M).

Anoscopus albifrons

Anoscopus albifrons

All in all, an excellent day.

Update 10th June 2020

June 10, 2020

A return to the elms on the nearby Arish Burn meant that I found this fig gall on the Wych Elm caused by the aphid Tetraneura ulmi:

Tetraneura ulmi

Tetraneura ulmi on Ulmus glabra

It turns out that Seth found this on the same day in Uig Woods on Skye. Following on from these discoveries of a gall with only four previous records post-1997 in the HBRG database, Neil also found it near Skeabost the next day.

Nearby I captured this splendid hoverfly, Baccha elongata flying low amongst nettles in wet woodland:

I passed by this clump of Meadow Buttercups looking a little odd – the folding of the petals giving a star-like appearance to the flowers:

Buttercups

Ranunculus acris

Up on the croft I went looking for spear thistles in order to find the Spear Thistle Lacebug (Tingis cardui). It appears to be very common on Spear Thistles – just needs looking for.

Tingis cardui Spear Thistle Lacebug

Tingis cardui    Spear Thistle Lacebug

The moth trap yielded 14 moths of eight species including this Notocelia cynosbatella (Yellow-faced Bell).

Notocelia cynosbatella

Notocelia cynosbatella Yellow-faced Bell

Judging by previous years I have about two weeks to seeing Yarrow Plumes in the garden.

Another Buggy Day – Plus a Lacewing

June 8, 2020

Yesterday started with my finding a bug in the bathroom with a distinctly roseate body.

Buggish 3

Bathroom Bug

More of this later. Then Rosemary picked some Broom from the garden and brought it indoors, at which point about 30 adult Heterocordylus tibialis fell off it.

This is the one I have been following from early instar nymph to late instar nymph and now to adulthood. It turns out that the roseate specimen above is also this species but a teneral adult – Stephen tells me that it takes a while for the black pigment to settle down after the final moult.

Neil had posted in Skye Naturalists’ Facebook Group about leaf mines on Wych Elm made by the sawfly Fenusi ulmi. I went and had a look at my local Wych and found no sawfly mines, but there was a small moth caterpillar that Roy tells me is probably Orthosia sp., but needs to grow a bit before he can identify it.

However, I also found Eriosoma ulmi (European Elm Leafcurl Aphid or Elm-currant Aphid) which causes galls on Wych Elm:

Now I am supposed to look out for the flower bug Anthocoris gallarum-ulmi which feeds on the aphids inside the gall.

This morning there was nothing interesting in the moth trap but this nice small lacewing, Micromus paganus, was nearby:Micromus paganus

Micromus paganus

I am grateful to Stephen for the determination of all species mentioned here.