Thursday
Aug032017

Best books about ladybirds

I couldn't find this book on my bookshelf when I did the piece about the orange ladybird the other day. However, it has now resurfaced and a quick check finds a mention of the translucent edging. 

This is probably the most comprehensive book about ladybirds in the UK at a reasonable price. 

 

Haven't seen this book 'in the flesh' yet, but it looks like it updates the background information in the previous book and takes a wider perspective.  However the contents page doesn't say that it includes species accounts of the British ladybirds, so maybe it complements the previous book rather than replacing it.

 

I have the 1989 edition of this book, which is clearly out of date.  So I can't comment on this 2013 version except to say that as it has many of the same authors as the other books, it's probably worth having.  It's at least more pocketable for use in the field.

 

Wednesday
Aug022017

Peacock Butterfly

Luck often plays a large part in wildlife photography.  You can put yourself in the right place, at the right time, but you can't make the critters do what you want them to.  But sometimes . . . . 

And on this occasion, the butterflies performed wonderfully.  The nectar must have been flowing well, and the butterflies were hungry/thirsty.  Large whites, peacocks, meadow browns, and even silver-washed fritillaries (three of them) were almost lining up to be photographed.

This peacock shows the dark underside that makes it virtually impossible to detect in a dark place - one of its three defences against predation.  A second defense is the gaudy in-your-face colours and eye-pattern of the upperside (just visible here), that give the predator the impression of a much bigger creature looking back at it.  The third is a squeaky noise as it opens its wings - enough to scare off the odd inquisitive mouse.


Tuesday
Aug012017

Orange Ladybird

I was looking for butterflies when a bright orange dot overhead caught my attention.  Hard to tell at first, whether it was an insect or a bit of leaf.  But as it got close to the ground, it made a change of direction, and landed in the nettles, joining another orange ladybird already there.  I managed a couple of quick photos before they disappeared amongst the prickly stems and leaves.

One of the great things about digital photography, is putting something greatly enlarged on the screen later, and seeing details you would otherwise have missed.  In this case, it was the transparent outer edge of the wing cases.  Is it normal?  Is it a sign of age?  Or what?

I googled orange ladybird pictures, and it does seem to be normal for this species.  Maybe for some others too, but I didn't look at all species.

The orange ladybird is a vegetatarian, feeding principally on mildews on the leaves of deciduous trees, particularly sycamore (this one could have come from the sycamores above the nettle patch).  However, it well feed on honeydew and occasionally on small aphids, particularly in the spring and early summer before mildews have developed on the young leaves.

Another thing on this photo - the ladybird hasn't quite got its back wings folded away, and you can see there had been a lot of damage.  Perhaps this is why its flight was so erratic.

Monday
Jul312017

June observations in Pembrokeshire

Friday
Jun162017

Ants and Aphids

Ants attending aphids on a sea beet plant alongside the Cleddau Estuary.

And some more information about ants and aphids here