To get to Allen hide B and I had a short stroll along the edge of a meadow. The path was lined with tall grass and nettles. Maybe it was his height, maybe his 20/20 vision or maybe B is just more observant than me, but I have never seen such a variety of insect life as I did on this occasion with B pointing them out. There were bugs, beetles, spiders and flies in every shape and colour you could want.
Some of them we’ve tentatively managed to identify. Others are a mystery.
Maybe a soldier beetle – possibly Cantharis pellucida
Perhaps a snipe fly, also known as the down-looker-fly because of this typical head down perch. It darts from its perch to snatch other insects in mid-air.
A seven spot ladybird making a delicate transition between grass blades.
I’ve drawn a blank on this one.
Cardinal beetle – Pyrochroa serraticornis
Another as yet unidentified..
Click beetle – probably Athous haemorrhoidalis (no I’m not making that last bit up, nor do I know why). Click beetle because of the loud click they make when they jump.
Weevil – Phyllobius pomaceus . “The scales clothing this weevil can be golden green or bluish green. Abundant on stinging nettles, where the larvae feed on the roots.
We saw no end of these – they were indeed ‘abundant on stinging nettles’.
“Look Dad, here’s two which are mating.”
Keine ahnung. (Rather dapper I thought.)
A yellow dung fly?
We saw lots of these: nettle leaves apparently partially eaten and rolled with a web inside.
B suggested that some sort of spider might be the culprit. Since then, I’ve discovered that there are species of saw-flies and of weevils which roll leaves up. But at present, my favourite candidate is the caterpillar of the nettle tap moth. “The larvae usually spin a web on the upper surface of the nettle leaf which draws the leaf into a folded shelter”. (Source)
Spiders, I’m afraid, are even more of a mystery then insects.
But with so many bugs about, the spiders were out in force too.
One of the weevils we saw looked to be seconds away from becoming dinner.
I think that this…
…is a wolf spider, carrying a silken egg-sac full of her young behind her. It looks like she has dinner already in hand.
As does this, mainly hidden, spider…
Finally, even with B’s keen eye, we walked past this….
….from a distance it was very convincingly disguised as a dead leaf.
Up close, it’s stunning.
I think, that it’s a beautiful golden y, Autographa pulchrina. But it could be a plain golden y. Autographa jota. Even after consulting this superb online identification guide I’m not 100% confident.
The prize for identification goes to B however. After our walk, and a hurried tea, I went out again (to help put up bunting through the village for the jubilee, ardent monarchist that I am), but I left B with my field guide hoping that he would enjoy browsing through it. When I cam home, he had written on the blackboard we have on our kitchen wall….
It’s a sawfly. A rather striking, mostly black fly with white tips to its antennae and apparently a bulbous white nose (although that’s actually white around it’s mouth). I’d taken several photos, but sadly none came out too well. I’d also flicked through the book, but without B;s success.