Posts Tagged ‘Galls’


May 23, 2021

It is still cold so plants are late in flowering and insects on the wing are few in number much of the time. However, it has still been possible to find interesting things…..

A single leaf of Dryas octopetala (Mountain Avens) from Gualann na Leac on Raasay had a gall and leaf spots.

Dryas gall and leafspot

The leafspots are caused by the fungus Isothea rhytismoides but the gall causer is less certain. Following the key on Plant Parasites of Europe leads one to the chytrid Synchytrium cupulatum but a paper on nematode infections of Dryas in Perthshire has some similar looking galls caused by nematodes:

Nematode galls on Dryas

I shall have to go and get the leaf and dig into the gall.

New 10 km square records have been made for Hedera hibernica (Atlantic Ivy), Hyacinthoides x massartiana (Hybrid Bluebell), Prunus avium (Wild Cherry or Gean) and, by David H, Scutellaria galericulata (Skullcap).

I seem to have an aphids day yesterday. Following a lead from Murdo of HBRG I went to check for aphids on Viburnum opulus (Guelder-rose). He had found the aphid Ceruraphis eriophor at Strathpeffer and noticed that there was only one dot on the NBN Atlas for this species. I have often registered that on Skye V. opulus is infested with aphids and indeed the first plant I looked at had these on it (awaiting final confirmation). Later: Confirmed

Ceruraphis eriophor on Viburnum opulus

Meanwhile, Neil had spotted some clumping of leaves on Acer platanoides (Norway Maple) in a garden at Dunan.

I suspect that this is caused by maple leaf-nest aphid Mimeuria ulmiphila, a taxon that appears on NBN but with no records. Someone is going to have to knock on the door and say “Please can we get a ladder to look at your rare aphids?”. Hope that goes well.

Elsewhere, this leaf spot on Epilobium montanum (Broad-leaved Willowherb) appears to be Venturia maculiformis which is probably common but if so, very under-recorded.

Venturia maculiformis on Epilobium montanum

I have converted my moth trap so that it can be battery-operated.

Moth trap at Brae, Raasay

Its first outing at Brae produced several moths I haven’t seen yet this year at home such as Early Thorn:

Early Thorn

Without the aid of a trap, I found a nice Scalloped Hook-tip at Fearns:

Scalloped Hook=tip

Early April

April 8, 2021

This sort of weather is not very conducive to field work.

However, some things are afoot. Through the Skye Naturalists’ Network on Facebook and with the help of Skye Gardening Society, I have had a number of people locating and inspecting Quercus ilex (Evergreen/Holm/Holly Oak) and Pyracantha coccinea in the hope of finding leaf mines caused by moth larvae.

The firethorn leaf miner Phyllonorycter leucographella invaded the UK 30 or so years ago and has spread north rapidly. It is found up to the Highlands but there are still vice-counties where it hasn’t reached or hasn’t been noticed, such as ours.  It makes rather silvery blister mines on the upperside of Pyracantha (Firethorn) leaves and no other species is known to use this foodplant.

The European oak leaf-miner or Zeller’s midget Phyllonorycter messaniella makes blister mines on oak leaves (and also on beech).  Unfortunately, on our native oaks, there are a number of other Phyllonorycter species that can be confusing, but P. messaniella is a specialist species on the evergreen oak, Quercus ilex.  On Q. ilex in Scotland, this is the only Phyllonorycter mine to be found. 

It turns out that both host species are pretty rare on Skye/Raasay and so far no mines have been found.

Gall on gall:

This is Salix cinerea subsp. oleifolia (Rusty Sallow/Willow). I think the rosette, which is a common gall locally, is caused by a dipteran of the Rabdophaga strobilina/rosaria agg. However, there is another gall on the leaf midrib, upper surface, which is probably caused by a sawfly – Euura pedunculi or similar. The divisions shown are millimetres.

I have sent away a couple of stoneflies and Seth is kindly looking at a scuttle fly for me using a new key to the genus Triphleba provided by Henry Disney at Cambridge who is “King of Scuttle Flies”. Henry says this is the right genus and sent the key. Even then, quite a few of the outcomes are “possibly the unknown (fe)male of…..” so Good Luck Seth.

Scuttle Fly

I will write a separate entry about spiders.

On the plant side, I have found a large colony of Tussilago farfara (Colt’s-foot) on disturbed ground not very far from home. There really isn’t very much of this on Raasay:

The resin glands on Abies alba (European Silver-fir) are apparent at the moment and contain a rich red resin.

Mines, Galls and Microfungi

October 13, 2020

By the front gate there is a small Hawthorn tree (Crataegus monogyna). Yesterday I spotted a small moth larva that turns out to be a young Light Emerald.

Light Emerald larva

Apparently this species overwinters as small larvae lying flat along stems of the food plant. As you can see the larva has a fringe of hair-like projections hanging down from the sides.

Also on the Hawthorn a couple of leaves had been spun together with silk and inside was another moth larva. The identity of this one has not yet been resolved.

Spun leaves

Before I left the premises I noticed a fungus on Solanum dulcamara (Bittersweet) which Bruce tells me is Alternaria solani.

Alternaria solani on Solanum dulcamara

This is not entirely good news as this fungus causes Early Potato Blight and we grow quite a lot of potatoes.

Moving on a couple of hundred metres to a strip of woodland by the Arish Burn, I noticed some leaf mines on Stachys sylvatica (Hedge Woundwort) caused by the true fly Amauromyza labiatarum.

Amauromyza labiatarum mines on Stachys sylvatica

and a little further on a Hazel (Corylus avellana) had leaf mines made by two different micro-moths.

Stigmella floslactella mine on Corylus avellana
Phyllonorycter nicellii mine on Corylus avellana
Phyllonorycter nicellii larva

Also there was a springtail, Entomobrya nivalis (sometimes called Cosmopolitan Springtail), though I almost missed it and have no worthwhile image to share.

A little further on there were galls on Ranunculus repens (Creeping Buttercup) caused by the fungus Urocystis ranunculi

Urocystis ranunculi galls on Ranunculus repens

I am grateful to various folks for identifying and confirming many of the species shown here: Bruce Ing, Roy Leverton, Murdo Macdonald, Stephen Moran, Nigel Richards and Mark Young.

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)


Rhagio notatus

Rhagio notatus Large Fleck-winged Snipefly


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.

In the Garden 19th May 2020

May 19, 2020

A fly I caught yesterday turns out to be Delia radicum known variously as the cabbage fly, cabbage root fly, root fly or turnip fly. Thanks, Laurence. Whilst pleased to have the first record in VC104 on NBN, I am less than fully delighted given we have just planted out all our Brassicas.

Delia radicum

Delia radicum

The Goat Willow (Salix caprea) out the front is developing galls that I suspect are caused by the gall wasp Euura pedunculi.

Euura pedunculi gall on Salix caprea

Euura pedunculi gall on Salix caprea

and not far away an alder (Alnus glutinosa) has the early stages of Alder Wrinkle gall caused by the fungus Taphrina tosquinetii. Compare the size of the infected leaf with normal leaves.

Taphrina tosquinetii on Alnus gluinosa

Taphrina tosquinetii on Alnus gluinosa

A spider in the polytunnel turns out to be a Toad Spider or Walnut Orb-Weaver (Nuctenea umbratica). Thanks, Katie.

Walnut Orb-Weaver

Walnut Orb-Weaver

In the Garden 12 May 2020

May 12, 2020

There are plenty of hoverflies about. Here are three that I have managed to name  – and thanks to those who have helped or confirmed, especially Seth.

The moth trap contained 17 moths of 12 species, though nothing I haven’t recorded in May before.

The trap also contained two black sexton beetles (Nicrophorus humator). This was on 8th May. The only other time I have recorded this species was on 8th May 2018 – from my moth trap.

Nicrophorus humator

Nicrophorus humator

In the garden, Herb-Robert, Tormentil and Thyme-leaved Speedwell are now in flower and by the front gate the mites have galled the alders:

Eriophyes laevis

Eriophyes laevis on Alnus glutinosa

though they do not seem to have received the memo that the galls “start off shiny yellow, becoming green then red, purplish or brown.” Maybe they have turned red in the cold.


August 22, 2019

As Skye Nature Group, we went back to Dorothy’s croft at Tokavaig on Tuesday and added quite a few tetrad records to NG61A and B including Ilex x altaclerensis (Highclere Holly). Reputedly this hybrid was developed at Highclere Castle (Hampshire) in about 1835, by hybridising the Madeiran Ilex perado (grown in a greenhouse) with the local native Ilex aquifolium.

Whilst I have seen it in gardens locally, this was the first record in the wild for VC104 – thanks to Seth for spotting it. I suspect I have ignored it elsewhere on occasions.

Highclere Holly

Ilex x altaclerensis

There was Scutellaria minor (Lesser Skullcap) in wet woodland:

Scutellaria minor

Scutellaria minor

and lots of other nice things such as Artichoke Galls on oak caused by the wasp Andricus foecundatrix:

Artichoke Galls

Artichoke Galls

A tiny cup fungus on an oak leaf:

Cup Fungus on Oak

Cup Fungus on Oak

and dog vomit slime mould (Fuligo septica) or similar:

Slime Mould

Slime Mould

Honeysuckle Moth (Ypsolopha dentella), knocked out of a tree by Seth, looks to be new to the vice-county:

Honeysuckle Moth

Ypsolopha dentella

Tormore & Fairy Glen

July 27, 2019

Skye Nature Group’s excursion to Sleat on Wednesday took us to Tormore and to Fairy Glen below Calligarry. These were in tetrads that had been covered pretty well for vascular plants but there were still a number of significant finds.

We added Atriplex prostrata s.s. (Spear-leaved Orache), Crocosmia pottsii (Pott’s Montbretia), Elymus x laxus (E. junceiformis x repens), Larix kaempferi (Japanese Larch) and Sagina nodosa (Knotted Pearlwort) to the list for the 10km square NG60.

Sagina nodosa

Sagina nodosa

We added a new site for Ammophila arenaria (Marram), the fourth on Skye in recent times apart from Glenbrittle Beach – all along a short stretch of the Sleat shoreline. There was also Leymus arenarius (Lyme-grass) – only the fifth Skye site in recent times – and Cephalanthera longifolia (Narrow-leaved Helleborine) and Ophioglossum vulgatum (Adder’s-tongue) were growing together at a known site.

The Cotoneaster integrifolius (Entire-leaved Cotoneaster) at Tormore was doing rather too well:

Cotoneaster integrifolius

Cotoneaster integrifolius

I was pleased to find galls caused by the mite Phyllocoptes goniothorax on Hawthorn. I saw lots of these on Colonsay but there are no records in VC104 on NBN.

Phyllocoptes goniothorax

Phyllocoptes goniothorax galls on Crataegus monogyna (Hawthorn)

Neil and/or Seth spotted some fine galls on Oenanthe crocata (Hemlock Water-dropwort) that look to me like those caused by the fungus Protomyces macrosporus:

Protomyces macrosporus on Oenanthe crocata

Protomyces macrosporus on Oenanthe crocata

but I await their views. Also there was a mass of pea galls on Rosa vosagiaca (Glaucous Dog-rose):

Rose Pea Galls

Rose Pea Galls


July 8, 2019

I spent a week on Colonsay with five other botanists refreshing my skills in sand dune and sandy soil habitats, amongst other things. An excellent week in which I learnt about several new galls, saw a Small Copper butterfly, which I have never seen on Skye/Raasay and found nice things in the local context like Atriplex laciniata (Frosted Orache) and Orobanche alba (Thyme Broomrape).

I made the most of my refreshed and new skills by going to Canna/Sanday on Saturday. On summer Saturdays it is possible to have over eight hours on the islands by catching the 0730 ferry from Mallaig and leaving Canna on the 1820.

This proved very useful as I re-found 1930s records in the Sanday dunes for Catapodium marinum (Sea Fern-grass) and Trifolium campestre (Hop Trefoil). In both cases these are only the second recent records for the vice-county, the others being on Rum and Eigg respectively.

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I also inadvertently made the first Canna/Sanday record and therefore the first NG20 record for several species including Botrychium lunaria (Moonwort), Carex remota (Remote Sedge) and Scrophularia auriculata (Water Figwort), the last looking like a recent import at the ferry terminal.

Even more importantly, I made the first VC104 record for Polygonum boreale (Northern Knotgrass), distinguished from P. aviculare by having oblong-ovate, petiolate leaves (and large nuts, but it is too early in the year for that to be apparent).

Polygonum boreale 2.JPG

This is a species that was thought to be restricted to the Northern Isles but has since been found in the Outer Isles and Tiree and Colonsay.

The dipteran Janetiella frankumi makes this gall on Rosa spinosissima (Burnet Rose):

Janetiella frankumi

Janetiella frankumi

Simon showed it to me on Colonsay, and there it was on Canna.

So much more I could write but I must get on with entering records into the database……

Colbost Point

August 24, 2018

Following on from my visit to Ullinish a week or so ago, I recently visited the next tetrad to the west which includes Colbost Point. Here there is “coral” beach like the more famous one north of Dunvegan, albeit on a smaller scale, but one that is rarely visited.


Near Colbost Point

and here there was Sedum acre (Biting Stonecrop) as reported in 1969.


Sedum acre (Biting Stonecrop)

Sadly, I didn’t find Sagina nodosa (Knotted Pearlwort), also reported in 1969 from “above the coral beach”. It should have been possible to find, though flowering is over, as Joanna demonstrated last week by showing me a piece she had found at Kinloch. Both these species are pretty infrequent on Skye.

Other nice species in a Skye context included a single very immature specimen of Cakile maritima (Sea Rocket) that is unlikely to set fruit and therefore will be gone by next year, Centunculus minimus (Chaffweed), Lythrum salicaria (Purple-loosestrife) and Mentha arvensis (Corn Mint).

Several plants of Plantago lanceolata (Ribwort Plantain) had galls caused by the nematode Ditylenchus dipsaci:

Plantago lanceolata nematode gall

Plantago lanceolata nematode gall

I think this is my first nematode record!