There was a good turn out of Society members at our field meeting on Sunday 10 June at the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust reserve at Thorpe Marsh. We were well rewarded with a wide variety of interesting bird, plant and insect species as we walked around flower filled meadows, woodland, becks and lagoons. A check list with images attached included a recently emerged black-tailed skimmer dragonfly, caterpillar of the yellow-tail moth feeding on sallow, yellow barred long horn moth, wasp beetle and common cudweed, a low growing annual plant growing in a clinker track (a former railway). Other sightings included adult garden chafer beetle, adult cinnabar moth, caterpillar of vapourer moth, male and female forester moths, banded agrion damselfly various hybrid orchids, buzzard, together with whitethroat, oystercatcher and cuckoo all calling in the background. Thorpe Marsh extends to 77 hectares and is packed with a variety of habitats and as we discovered it is developing into a very valuable home for a wide range of wildlife.
The next field meeting is on July 15 at Epworth Turbary Nature Reserve and further details are available by checking the Outdoor Meetings on this website.
Yellow tail moth caterpillar
Yellow barred long horn moth
Black tailed skimmer
Colin Booker and I visited Carlton Marsh nature reserve today. It was my first visit and I was impressed by the range of things to be seen.
Golden bloomed grey longhorn beetle (Agapanthia villosoviridescens)
Early in the walk, we found a golden-bloomed grey longhorn beetle – minus one horn (antenna) – on hogweed. This is the second species of longhorn beetle that I have seen in one week and it may be an indication of how these species are expanding their ranges northwards.
Another insect seen was a large hoverfly, for which my suggested identification is Cheilosia illustrata.
Fly killed by Entomophthora fungus
We also spotted a fly, on the underside of a leaf, which had been infected by an Entomophthora fungus. This fungus causes the fly to change its behaviour so that it walks up a plant. It then dies but it doesn’t fall from the plant because fungal hyphae grow from its feet to attach it to the plant. Spores of the fungus are then carried away on the breeze.
Mignonette (Roseda lutea) & musk mallow (Malva moschata)
There was a wide range of plant species to be seen.
Wild carrot (Daucus carota)
Wild carrot is a common plant but the flower head is very attractive when viewed closely.
Greater knapweed (Centauria scabiosa)
I was walking around Fitzwilliam Country Park this afternoon when I spotted lots of metallic black/blue beetles on the leaves of an alder. I think the alder is Italian alder (Alnus cordata).
Alder Leaf Beetle on Italian Alder
I believe that the beetles are Alder Leaf Beetle. This species has been absent from the UK for about 60 years and it began to be recorded again in about 2004. It is likely that it was reintroduced to the British Isles by the plant trade.
Alder Leaf Beetle (Agelastica alni)
There were many beetles on this and other trees, singles and mating pairs. You can see holes in the leaf in the picture above. This species causes significant damage to alder and can reduce leaves to skeletons. It was recorded at RSPB Old Moor in 2012 and it has been recorded at Wintersett since 2013.
The weather has been a bit cool but I have put out the moth trap on a couple of nights this week. There was a threat of some overnight drizzle, so I used my usual arrangement of a tripod and umbrella to protect the mercury vapour bulb, which might shatter if exposed to rain.
The catch was much lower than I would expect on a summer night, only two moths on each occasion. The first night produced early grey and a male muslin moth. The second night gave another early grey and a powdered quaker.
Clockwise from left: Early Grey, Muslin Moth and Powdered Quaker
All of the three are common but it was the first time that I had caught powdered quaker in my garden. This brings the total number of macro-moths found in the garden to 89 but I think there is further to go because I regularly log new species.
The moth trap regularly brings in species that I have not seen previously in my garden. Last night, a new species was the satin moth (Leucoma salicis).
White satin moth
At first glance, this is similar to the yellow-tailed moth (Euproctis similis) but there are several differences, including size.
Another new species seen was campion (Sideridis rivularis).
The vapourer moth is very common but it hasn’t turned up in my moth trap until last night. This species has flightless females.
Recently, I’ve been making the effort to identify some of the tiny micro-moths. Starting on the left and moving clockwise, the following picture shows bee moth (Euzophera pinguis), golden brown tubic (Crassa unitella) and gold triangle (Hypsopygia costalis).
The bee moth is one of several species that cause problems for beekeepers by damaging the combs in beehives when they are in storage. The larvae of the golden-brown tubic feed on fungi and dead bark, whilst the larvae of the gold triangle feed on dry vegetable matter, such as hay and straw.
Each year, the grassed area around Wakefield Cathedral is the place to spot tawny mining bees (Andrena fulva). During the past week, they have created many small “volcanoes” as they have excavated their burrows.
Burrows of Tawny Mining Bees
Sunny weather has brought the bees out but a chill in the air has slowed some of them down, making them easier to observe and photograph.
Tawny Mining Bee
In this picture, taken using a mobile phone, it’s possible to see not only the large compound eyes but also the simple eyes (ocelli) on the top of the bee’s head.