Elephant Hawkmoth

Steve Horton kept an Elephant Hawkmoth pupa over the winter and the adult emerged on 17th May 2016. Steve is perplexed with the apparent ‘eyespot’ that seemed to follow him as he moved. He’d not seen this before and wondered about the anatomy of the compound eye. Is this just the result of reflections from some of the facets, or something else?

Elephant Hawkmoth, 17 May 2016 ©Steve Horton

Elephant Hawkmoth, 17 May 2016 ©Steve Horton

Wood Ants

Wendy Carter has sent these excellent photographs of Wood Ant (Formica rufa) workers carrying smaller live ants. Although this has been documented before, it is not clear why this behaviour occurs. The ant being carried is not struggling, so presumably it is not objecting to a lift back to the nest!

Wood Ant carrying another, Ribbesford Wood, 10 April 2016 ©Wendy Carter

Wood Ant carrying another live ant, Ribbesford Wood, 11 April 2016 ©Wendy Carter

Reeves’ Muntjac

This Reeves’ Muntjac buck was photographed by a remote camera at Callow Hill at 6 o’clock in the morning. Only the male Muntjac deer have antlers and these are cast in May and this one has recently lost one – it had 2 the previous night. The camera was erected after Muntjac droppings were found. It was left out for 2 nights and 5 mammals were recorded using this small animal path – Badger, Fox, Grey Squirrel, Rabbit and the Muntjac.

Reeves' Muntjac buck, Callow Hill, 13 May 2016

Droppings from a Reeves' Muntjac, Callow Hill, 9 May 2016

 

Crop circles in Wyre!

Ian Wallace writes: “While looking for caddis larvae in Wyre on the 8th April this year I noticed several small bulls-eye circles, about a centimetre across, cut through the fine silt layer on the top of a submerged stone at the mouth of the Park Stream (SO 7547 7661).  After a bit of thought I realised I must be looking at the marks left by one of Wyre’s commonest caddis, Agapetus fuscipes. The larva has flat ended mandibles that scrape over the rock surface to detach diatoms, algae and organic silt which they swallow as food. One of the greatest problems for the larva is to avoid being swept away by the current, so they always have one end of the case anchored to the rock by a few silken threads. That enables them to pivot round the anchor point, the bulls eye of the marks, as they feed. They might only work part of the circle. After clearing an area they will then attach the free end of the case before detaching the original anchor so they can swing round to make a little forward progression. There has to be just the right combination of silt depth and current speed and density of individuals for these mysterious circles to appear, made by little Agapetus as it harvests its crop of diatoms.”

Agapetus fuscipes feeding marks, Park Brook, 8 April 2016 ©Rosemary Winnall

Agapetus fuscipes feeding marks, Park Brook, 8 April 2016 ©Rosemary Winnall

Live Agapetes fuscipes showing evidence of grazing, Park Brook, 4 May 2016 ©Rosemary Winnall

Agapetus fuscipes, Wyre Forest, 21 April 2016 ©Rosemary Winnall

Agapetus fuscipes outside case, Wyre Forest, 21 April 2016 ©Rosemary Winnall

 

Rare Tinodes caddisfly larvae

We were pleased to meet up with Ian Wallace in Wyre this April and to obtain permission for him to visit a few stream sites on private land around the forest so that he could check for the presence of some rare caddisflies. Ian was very pleased to find both Tinodes pallidulus and Tinodes rostocki, both nationally rare species, in Bavaney Brook above Furnace Mill.

Ian Wallace in Bavaney Brook pleased to have found 2 species of Tinodes, 8 April 2016

Tinodes pallidulus galleries, Bavaney Brook, 8 April 2016

Brimstone moth and Brimstone butterfly

Mick Farmer has sent me his attractive photographs of a Brimstone moth (Opisthograptis luteolata) and a Brimstone butterfly (Gonepteryx rhamni) both of which were found in his Bewdley garden recently. The moth flies at night and there are 2 generations a year. The caterpillars feed on leaves of Blackthorn, hawthorns and a few other species, and they overwinter either as caterpillars or as pupae. The Brimstone moth caterpillars feed on Alder Buckthorn in the Wyre area so it is always worth planting one or two of these shrubs in your garden to attract this beautiful daytime flyer. The adults hibernate overwinter.

Bimstone moth, Bewdley, 29 April 2016 ©Mick Farmer

Brimstone butterfly, Bewdley, 3 May 2016 ©Mick Farmer