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

 

Grey Wagtail

This Grey Wagtail was watched unobserved having a good preen in Dowles Brook. Its distinctive undulating flight, and bobbing tail when on the ground, are common to all wagtails. But the grey back and yellow chest and under-tail feathers show that it is a Grey Wagtail. This species is commonly found along watercourses.

Grey Wagtail, Dowles Brook, 30 July 2016 ©Rosemary Winnall

Southern Wood Ant Formica rufa

Southern Wood Ants are commonly found in the Wyre Forest and in sunny places their large nests can be large and conspicuous. There may be up to 400,000 individual ants in one nest, almost all of which are worker ants. Winged males and new queens emerge between April and August and Kevin McGee has sent this excellent photograph of one of the queens he found in Wyre recently.

Formica rufa queen ant, Wimperhill, 5 June 2016 ©Kevin McGee