Buff Tip moth caterpillars (Phalera bucephala)

Buff Tip moth eggs are laid in batches on various deciduous tree species. The caterpillars feed gregariously in the summer and often defoliate whole branches. The ones shown here are feeding on Hornbeam.

Buff Tip moth caterpillars on Hornbeam, Bliss Gate, 6 September 2016 ©Rosemary Winnall

Platycis minutus

This small beetle (5-8mm) has been seen in the Wyre Forest again this year. At first it looks like a small cardinal beetle, but unlike these it has distinctive yellowish tips to the antennae. It is a Notable B species. The larvae feed inside rotting wood, and the adults are usually found on vegetation not far from deadwood.

Platycis minutus, Wimperhill, 5 September 2016 ©Rosemary Winnall

Little Black Puddings (Dasineura pteridis)

These galls are commonly found on Bracken in the summer and autumn. They are caused by the larvae of a Cecidomyiid gall midge which cause these black, shiny, and rolled swellings to occur on the fronds. The mature larvae leave the galls to pupate in the soil, and there are two generations a year.

Little Black Pudding galls, Dasineura pteridis, Wimperhill, 6 September 2016 ©Rosemary Winnall

Pine Sawfly (Diprion pini)

This summer a group of these sawfly larvae have defoliated the top of a small ornamental pine tree in my garden in Bliss Gate. They have been recorded here since 2014. There are still a few larvae present in the middle of September, but they will soon all have moved down into the soil where they spin overwintering cocoons in which to pupate. They will emerge as adults during next May or June.

Common Pine Sawfly (Diprion pini), Bliss Gate, 24 August 2016 ©Rosemary Winnall

Sneezewort Achillea ptarmica

It was good to find Sneezewort flowering in a meadow near Button Oak recently. We don’t find this plant growing very often around Wyre. It grows in damp grasslands. The smell of the flowers is supposed to make you sneeze, although it was the roots that used to be collected to treat toothache apparently.

Sneezewort, Button Oak, 24 August 2016 ©Rosemary Wnnall

Oak Bracket Inonotus dryadeus

This large and impressive bracket fungus (up to 40cms wide) is usually found on live oak trees, although it can grow on other deciduous trees, generally appearing near the base of the trunk and always attacking the heartwood causing whiterot. The robust humpy fruiting brackets appear in early autumn when they weep an amber liquid from depressions on the upper surface.

Oak Bracket, Inonotus dryadeus, Button Oak, 24 August 2016 ©Rosemary Winnall

Oak Bracket, Inonotus dryadeus, Button Oak, 24 August 2016 ©Rosemary Winnall

 

Garden Snail, Cornu aspersum

Garden Snails (previously Helix aspersa) are commonly found in our gardens and countryside. They are best observed on a damp warm evening after rain. These 2 were found mating on a plant pot in the greenhouse. Like all Pulmonate snails, they are hermaphrodite (each having both male and female gametes), and exchange sperm during a process that can last several hours. After about 2 weeks each snail will lay up to 80 white eggs, usually in soil under logs and stones. The young snails take up to 2 years to mature. Although these snails are valued in some countries and collected to eat, they are not welcomed by gardeners in Britain!

Garden Snails, Bliss Gate, 20 August 2016 ©Rosemary Winnall

Garden Snails mating, Bliss Gate, 20 August 2016 ©Rosemary Winnall