Author Archive

27th October 2009, Tuesday

Wildlife going down the drain?

drain

It was raining, and I wanted to get into the shed, so I made a dash for it. As I was unlocking I noticed a strange shape in the drain. It looked as if some leaves had gotten in there. I looked a little closer to see if it might need attention. I then recognised what I was looking at. I took off the drain cover and looked closer still.

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29th June 2009, Monday

Rare longhorn beetle

Mesosa-nebulosa

I was on my way to do a survey for Butterfly Conservation’s Rother Woods Project. To get to the survey location I passed through Brede High Wood. Always looking around, wherever I am walking, I spotted, sitting on bracken at the side of the path. Not having see this particular beetle before, I clicked off a few photos, and continued on my way. With help from Maxwell V L Barclay, Head Curator, Coleoptera Department of Entomology, The Natural History Museum, I now have a name for the beetle. It is Mesosa nebulosa and is classed as Rare RDB3. The beetle is associated mainly with oak and is thought to prefer the top most branches of Oak trees. The larvae develop in dead wood, and therefore, require deadwood to be left within the woods. So this is another pat on the back for the Woodland Trust and its management of the area it has recently purchased. The Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre have no previous records for this beetle.

17th April 2009, Friday

Currant Pug

On 6 Sep 2008, I collected a caterpillar from a hop plant – Humulus lupulus in the garden, most likely a Currant PugEupithecia assimilata. When the caterpillar was fully fed, and it was time for it to make its pupa, it failed to do so. Having a good idea why this was I decided to keep the caterpillar for a while longer. Looking at the caterpillar now my suspicions are proved correct. The caterpillar contains about 50 parasitic fly larvae. The caterpillar has been almost completely consumed by the larvae, leaving little more than an outer layer of skin. The parasites look as if they are ready to emerge at any moment.

Currant-Pug

7th October 2008, Tuesday

Robin’s Pincushion

Bedeguar-gall

…or the Bedeguar gall, Diplolepis rosae,  is a spectacular gall and quite commonly seen on Dog Rose hedging. I spotted this strange object in a hedgerow close to Brede Waterworks.  The ’causer’ in this case is probably a gall wasp (Diplolepis rosae) which lays its eggs in either the leaves or stem of the dog rose. One gall may contain several grubs, each in an individual chamber. Subsequently, other insects may invade the gall in order to parasitise the gall wasp grubs. The gall grubs will overwinter inside the ‘apparently’ dead gall, to emerge next Spring.

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2nd October 2008, Thursday

Merveille du Jour

Merveille-du-Jour---Di

It can be fun to rear caterpillars, and captivity makes for a safer environment for them. I thought you might like to see some photos of one of my latest. On the 14 May 2008 I found 3 caterpillars while out walking in Brede High Wood. They were on the trunks of Oak trees tucked into the crevices on the bark. I took them home and fed them on Oak leafs. One made a pupa on May 24, and the other two on the 25. Over the last few days they have just emerged, and they are truly beautiful. They are called Merveille du JourDichonia aprilina. I have released them all back into the wild, where I hope they will find mates and start the process all over again.

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