Archive for April, 2020

In the Garden 28 April 2020

April 28, 2020

The range of moth species coming to the trap is increasing. A few days ago there were two resplendent Early Thorns.

Early Thorn

Early Thorn

I have looked at some small insects in the past two days. Rosemary picked some broom from the garden to bring indoors

Broom

Cytisus scoparius cultivar

and found it contained some very small critters (c 1.5 mm from nose to tail) which Stephen Moran tells me are early instar nymphs of a mirid bug, either  Heterocordylus tibialis (most likely) or H. genistae. I am instructed to photograph the grown-ups, keeping the legs in focus, in about six weeks’ time after tapping them off the foliage into a net or washing up bowl. I have put a note on my calendar for June: Handle broom.

Heterocordylus cf tibialis

Heterocordylus cf tibialis

Whilst clearing drains I found some moth flies (which are also known as drain flies, I see) that are different from the moth flies I usually see. Tony tells me they are probably Psychoda surcoufi, but these have to be dissected to be sure which species they are. A couple of days later the one I usually see (Pericoma sp.) turned up in the polytunnel – also needs dissection for full determination. (I may, of course, unwittingly see several species.)

Larger insects have included Dark-edged Bee-fly (Bombylius major) and the metallic green tachinid fly, Gymnocheta viridis. I see both of these at this time of year, every year.

No new weeds flowering in the garden, but between here and the shop, Bluebell and Cuckooflower have joined Wood Anemone, Marsh Marigold and Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage in flower.

A little later: I really should have gone out into the garden and THEN written this post…..  also flowering: Annual Meadow-grass, Cuckooflower and Early Dog-violet.

In the Garden 22 April 2020

April 22, 2020

I think this is the way forward for naming my posts as I am pretty much confined to my house and garden. In my last post I forgot to mention Luzula campestris (Field Wood-rush) amongst the flowering weeds:

Luzula campestris (Field Wood-rush)

Luzula campestris (Field Wood-rush)

and now I can add Veronica peregrina (American Speedwell), not a very pretty thing and a pernicious weed flowering and seeding profusely for much of the year.

Veronica peregrina

Veronica peregrina (American Speedwell)

It is our fault for accidentally bringing it with us from Lancashire decades ago.

Yesterday and today have seen a number of moths in the polytunnel: Clouded Drab, Early Grey, Early Tooth-stripe and Flame Carpet, but today there was Clark’s Mining Bee (Andrena clarkella) a smart-looking beastie that I have not recorded here before.

 

I had another spiny-winged fly which may be the same as the last – Heteromyza commixta – but I await expert opinion. Later: Apparently it is a female Gymnomus sp. but apparently females of that genus are not reliably told apart. (Thanks, Ian.)

Spiny-winged Fly

Spiny-winged Fly

In the Garden

April 20, 2020

Ten days ago I saw my first social wasp of the year, a queen Common Wasp (Vespula vulgaris) like this one from a few days ago that posed rather better:

Vespula vulgaris

Vespula vulgaris

Now there are large numbers of workers pollinating our gooseberries.

Gooseberry flower

Gooseberry flower

Weeds in the garden that are flowering include Lesser Celandine (Ficaria verna subsp. fertilis), Dandelion (Taraxacum sp.),  Daisy (Bellis perennis),  Common Field-speedwell (Veronica persica) and Wavy Bitter-cress (Cardamine flexuosa).

The bumblebees were first on the Hellebores and the Lungwort (Pulmonaria officinalis) but also had an interest in Scilla sp. They soon moved on to a spring-flowering Erica and are now all over the various flowers in the garden.

This hoverfly Eristalis pertinax appeared several days ago and has been patrolling the same patch of the garden every day since. It alights on my shirt or even on my hands while hammering when I was remodelling the fruit cage.

Eristalis pertinax

Eristalis pertinax

Moths are now coming in large numbers – there were 38 in my moth trap last night. There is a massive preponderance of Hebrew Characters at the moment with 30 of the 38 being that species this morning.

I have had Peacock and Green-veined White butterflies in the garden and elsewhere on the island Katie has seen Small Tortoiseshell and Green Hairstreak.

Peacock on Sallow

Peacock high up on Sallow

By way of other interesting flies, I had a spiny-winged fly Heteromyza commixta determined by Ian Andrews who runs the recently started Heleomyzid Recording Scheme.

 

Additionally, yesterday there was this tachinid in the polytunnel which is very likely Botria subalpina, a fly I have had in April in 2015 and 2019. This fly was found for the first time in the UK by Murdo in 2012. (Later: Confirmed.)

Botria subalpina

Botria subalpina (probably)

Garden Wildflower Hunt

April 11, 2020

BSBI is running a Garden Wildflower Hunt to offer botanical recorders, wildlife enthusiasts and the general public a chance to improve/ practice their plant identification skills while at home. BSBI says, “We hope to gather data which will help us understand more about the distribution, ecology and phenology of the wild plants in our gardens. Our definition of ‘garden’ includes balconies, paved yards, planters and window-boxes, so almost everyone should be able to participate.”

The Garden Safari Continues

April 10, 2020

Soon, I shall write something about plants, given the title of this blog. Meanwhile here is a Square-spot Rustic larva from leaf litter below the Blackcurrants:

Square-spot Rustic

Square-spot Rustic Larva

Two Hebrew Character moths from the moth trap:

Hebrew Charcter x2

Hebrew Character x2

I get lots of these looking like the right-hand specimen, but the larger brown form on the left had me baffled.

As last April, there is a Black-headed Gull on the sea in front of us:

Black-headed Gull

Black-headed Gull

Insects

April 2, 2020

The moth trap yielded just two moths the night before last, but one was a species I haven’t had before: Yellow Horned Moth.

Yellow Horned Moth

Yellow Horned Moth

The other was a Red Sword-grass and I also caught a gnat that is Sylvicola probably S. cinctus:

Sylvicola cf. cinctus

Sylvicola cf. cinctus

and a crane-fly, Tipula rufina – my second sighting of this species in a few days.

Tipula rufina

Tipula rufina

My crane-fly records are spread through most of the year:

Tipula records

Tipula records

The vast majority are from Raasay but also include some from Skye and the Small Isles. (The T. pagana is awaiting final confirmation.) (Later: Confirmed.)