Saturday, 26 July 2008

Roesel's bush-cricket

Roesel's bush-cricket, Broom, 25th July 2008 by Steve Blain. Found this beastie in my bathroom so released him outside. Unfortunately he'd gotten a bit dusty, so sat around cleaning himself before hopping off in to my garden.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Tanner Beetle

Tanner Beetle Prionus coriarius , The Lodge, 23rd July 2008 by Steve Blain.

Come into my Parlour!!

Species ? Agelena ?
On top of hebe bush. Quite spectacular.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Chicksands Wood - 15th July 2008

One of two fresh-looking White-letter Hairstreaks seen today in the wood...

Photo by Keith Balmer

Monday, 14 July 2008

Cardington Lock - 14th July

The seal waited below the lock for the boats heading downstream to leave it, then swam in before the gates were closed. Here it is riding the current as the lock filled, before exiting on the upstream side when the next lot of boats were about to enter...

Photo by Keith Balmer

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Grey Seal

Grey Seal, Kempston Mill, 13th July 2008 by Steve Blain. More can be found here.

Crime pays!

A fascinating drama developed over a two hour period on Cooper's Hill this afternoon (13th July). Firstly I watched this Ammophila sabulosa drag this caterpillar over seven metres to its burrow.

Once the debris that had hidden the hole had been cleared the caterpillar was dragged in:

Once an egg had been laid on the prey the process of filling in the borrow began:

Then a fight broke out, I suspect between two females, rather than an attempted mating:

This lasted a full minute:

and the winner, the original wasp, continued filling the burrow for another forty minutes:

Both the wasp and I then left the scene. I returned 11 minutes later to find another wasp digging open the burrow, and four minutes later exhume the caterpillar:

This was chewed around the head for four minutes (I'm not sure why) and inspected, presumably to find and remove the egg laid by the first wasp:

It was then re-buried in the same burrow:

And filled-in again, taking another forty minutes, and finished with a few twigs:

This was an intra-species crime and the DNA of the thief will prevail in this case. Was the thief the same wasp that had fought earlier and had bided its time for over forty minutes to take the spoils? Fascinating. You can see why the Ammophila genus has been much studied.

Pictures by Keith Balmer

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Recent colonist visits Suburbia - Bombus hypnorum

Found lurking around the flowers near my pond at the bottom of the garden on Saturday 5th July. Wychwood Avenue, Luton. So I imagine this is a new insect tick now becoming available to anyone. This is the slightly larger of two bees seen, the smaller was around on occasion right through the day but not when it got wet on Sunday.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Hanging by a thread

This Episyron rufipes (probably) at Duck End NR on 1st July really struggled to drag this spider away from its web, pulling this way and that, until finally released. (A second wasp even briefly joined in at one point). The spider was then dragged through a nearby gorse, where the eight legs frequently caught on the spines, until the "right" location was reached, where it was left suspended while it went off to dig a burrow.

Pictures by Keith Balmer

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Tool-using Wasp?

At Duck End Nature Reserve this afternoon (1st July) an Ammophila sabulosa found this caterpillar and dragged it back to her burrow. She then spent some time enlarging the burrow before dragging the caterpillar in.

During the enlargement process she briefly wielded this pebble seemingly like an hammer bashing the opening before discarding it and digging again with her feet and jaws...

Once the caterpillar was housed the hole was filled in, using her head as a vibrating ram - I could hear her buzzing as she packed the material hard. Small pebbles were finally arranged over the surface.

Pictures by Keith Balmer

Sharpenhoe Clappers Butterflies - 1st July

In today's heat the butterflies were really wizzing around, and the male Dark Green Fritillaries were in constant motion looking for females. The following were captured during a rare pause and reduced wind...

The Marbled Whites weren't very obliging either. These are the best I could grab...

Pictures by Keith Balmer