Dark Green Fritillary, Argynnis aglaja

In recent years Dark Green Fritillary butterflies have started to breed in sunny open habitat in the Wyre Forest. The caterpillars feed on violets and the adults are on the wing from mid-June to mid-August. Care is needed to distinguish this butterfly from the slightly larger Silver-washed Fritillary.

Dark Green Fritillary female, Wyre Forest, 14 July 2017 ©Brett Westwood

Bilberry Bumblebee Bombus monticola

We were surprised and delighted when Carol Taylor found 2 Bilberry Bumblebees in a meadow near Button Oak recently during a Study Group field meeting. This is the first record for Wyre, the nearest known bees being at Stiperstones in Shropshire. One of the bees was carrying pollen which proves nesting in the locality. The bees are known to feed on Bilberry early in the season, and favour Bird’s-foot Trefoil in June and July, later feeding from Bell Heather. If anyone spots this species elsewhere in the Wyre Forest area, we’d be pleased to hear! Our 2 bees were released to continue their foraging where they’d been found nectaring on Bird’s-foot Trefoil.

Bombus monticola, Button Oak, 7 June 2017 ©Rosemary Winnall

Bombus monticola, Button oak, 7 June 2017 ©Rosemary Winnall

 

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

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