Autumn is a good time to look for plant galls in Wyre. The ball-shaped Cherry Galls are induced by the gall wasp Cynips quercusfolii and those of the Common Spangle Galls by another gall wasp Neuroterus quercusbaccarum. The adult gall wasps that emerge early the following spring are all females and go on to lay their eggs on the developing oak leaf buds. The galls that result are quite different, and from these the sexual generation of males and females emerge in late spring and early summer.
Common Spangle Galls and Cherry Galls on oak, Postensplain, 6 September 2017 Rosemary Winnall
This ladybird is not often recorded in north Worcestershire, but a few have been spotted in and around Wyre this month. August to October is the best time to see this species which is said to be extending its range northwards, probably in response to climate change. The colouration and numbers of black spots varies as its name suggests. Originally more commonly found around the coast, it is increasingly found inland, often in dry open areas, but not always in the same place from one year to the next.
Adonis Ladybird, Bliss Gate, 28 August 2017 ©Rosemary Winnall
This strange-looking plant, which can grow up to the height of 1.5 metres, may be found in still or slow-moving water. We find it in a few of our Wyre Forest ponds, track ditches and along sheltered banks of the River Severn. Each flowering spike has male flowers present above the female ones. The fruits, which can float, drop off when ripe and are viable for several months.
Branched Bur-reed, Longdon, 4 August 2017 ©Rosemary Winnall
This attractive cranefly is easily identified from the other Nephrotoma species because of its distinctive abdominal markings. It is known to like dry woodlands on sandy soil and this one was found on a path in Longdon Wood.
Nephrotoma flavipalpus, Longdon Wood, 2 August 2017 ©Rosemary Winnall
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
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
Frost and misty conditions provided some wonderful wintery scenes in Wyre for a couple of days in late December.
Frosty Wyre, Withybed Wood, 29 December 2016
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
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
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