Yesterday Wyre Forest Study Group members braved the cold rain and ventured out into Earnwood Copse, following an ancient sunken track down through the woodland. 2 micromoths Diurnea fagella were spotted on tree trunks, as was the attractive harvestman Megabunus diadema. A Larch Ladybird and spiders Diaea dorsata were found in conifers, and down at the stream water crickets Velia caprai were swimming around on the water surface in the eddies. In open areas near the stream Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage was flowering well. But the Sallow catkins were still closed, waiting for warmth and sunshine.
The Green Shieldbug, commonly seen in gardens as well as the wider countryside, overwinters as an adult. Although usually conspicuously green, in the autumn they darken and become well-camouflaged as they hibernate amongst dead leaves. When they become active again in the spring, they gradually return to their green colouration.
These 2 pond skaters appear to be feasting on the leaf hopper Cicadella viridis. It reminds me that we haven’t got a lot of pond skater records for Wyre and should aim to rectify that in the near future.
Jon Cartwright photographed this adult Gorse Shieldbug on gorse at Fastings Coppice in May this year. It will have overwintered and bred this spring. Now, in July, we can find the late instal nymphs which should be mature by the end of the month. The sexually immature late summer adults have purplish coloration, but when they emerge from hibernation they are usually yellow-green.
This strange-looking homopteran is about 10mm long and can be found infrequently in Wyre’s woodland. The very long pronotum and ear-like projections are distinctive features. It feeds on plant juices, overwinters as a nymph and has a 2 year life cycle. The adults can be found between April and August.
The Juniper Shieldbug has, in recent years, started feeding on a few introduced conifer species, and is increasing its range. I counted 16 on my garden Lawson’s Cypress tree in sunshine on 11th October 2014 at Bliss Gate. As well as a few adults, there were nymphs at different stages of their development, all apparently feeding on the the green developing cones. I am wondering if these will become adults before the winter, or overwinter as nymphs? On 30th October all I could find was a single adult.
It is worth examining the seed heads of Spear Thistle at this time of the year for this attractive lace bug, Tingis cardui. An adult and nymph can be seen here. A similar species can be found on Creeping Thistle earlier in the year.
Jon Cartwright spotted this Bronze Shieldbug eating a Peacock butterfly caterpillar in Wyre recently. The adults of this species always have an orange band on the penultimate antennal segment. The young nymphs feed on plants, but the adults predate insect larvae, especially caterpillars and beetle larvae.
At this time of the year any patch of Hedge Woundwort is worth checking for the Woundwort Shieldbug (4-7mm), although it might also be found on White Dead-nettle and other labiates. The adults breeding now have overwintered, and the new adults will be found in August.