Sizzling, speedy, spunky, shimmering, sassy, spry, salient, sensational, shapely, striking, snappy, sparkly, spellbinding, splendiferous! Okay, I got a bit carried away but Small coppers are special.
For those who don’t live in Britain, we’ve had some wild weather over the past few days, with torrential rain at times and some very high wind gusts. I was starting to go stir crazy so, as soon as it began to clear around midday today, I headed out for a walk.
I was wondering if I would spot anything unusual the wind had blown in … and I did! This blast of sunshine, a Clouded yellow, an occasional migrant to our shores, was flying around in the east paddock at Cosmeston.
This stunning creature might look like a bee but it’s actually a sawfly, a harmless creature that does not sting and is so-named because the female’s genitalia are capable of ‘sawing’, in vegetation, a hole in which she then lays her eggs.
This particular sawfly may be Abia sericea, a sawfly whose larvae feed on scabious plants, particularly Devil’s-bit scabious, which is very abundant where I spotted this glistening creature.
Finally yesterday I found what I’ve walked many miles, worn out a pair of shoes, sweated buckets to find …my first Jersey tiger moth of the year. And it was worth every ache in my poor old feet!
Though the text books and web sites haven’t yet acknowledged it, we locals are positive we have a colony now established along our piece of the south Wales coast, and the records logged in Aderyn, the Wales biodiversity database, confirm it. These tigers have been recorded every year for over ten years at local sites, including Lavernock Nature Reserve and in gardens in the neighbouring towns of Sully and, latterly, Barry.
Jersey tigers are beautiful moths: triangular shaped, stunningly patterned with black-and-beige stripes, with vibrant orange underwings only usually seen when they’re flying, and a pale apricot body.
They’re currently only seen, as their name suggests, on the Channel Islands, in certain spots along England’s south coast and in London, and in our little area in Wales.
p.s. A Butterfly Conservation staffer from south Wales has since told me that this moth’s establishment in our area is not disputed and that it probably became established around 2012-13 but that it just takes time for websites to update their records.
I had to stay home for a delivery for part of the day yesterday but finally managed to get out for a local ramble mid afternoon. When I returned home, despite having closed all the windows and locked my front door, I found an unexpected visitor sitting on my toilet seat.
I knew it was a cricket of some kind (long antennae – though this little one has lost one of its antennae, so not a grasshopper) but I wasn’t sure which it was. Luckily, I found an excellent ID chart that I could download (from Orthoptera.org.uk here) and this list of features fit my visitor perfectly: long wings; pale green colour; 1.5-2cm; nocturnal and attracted to light, sometimes found indoors. It’s an Oak bush-cricket (Meconema thalassinum) and it has now been relocated outdoors.
I’ve been spending a lot of time over the past couple of weeks staring at Hemp agrimony flowers. I’ve not yet found what I’ve been searching for – you’ll be the first to know when/if I do – but, in the meantime, here are just a few of the lovely creatures I’ve spotted nectaring on these pretty flowers: a Dingy footman moth, a Six-spot burnet moth and a Gatekeeper, a Painted lady, a Red admiral, a Ringlet, a Speckled wood and what might be a Willow beauty moth, but the jury’s still out on that one.
I spotted this Common field grasshopper sitting on a gravestone in St Augustine’s churchyard yesterday. I see a huge number of grasshoppers and crickets but usually only as they’re hopping rapidly away from me. So, I was intrigued as to why this one didn’t jump away.
Looking closer, I noticed it had suffered some damage along its right side and had lost its large back leg on that side, so it was no longer able to leap. Luckily, it was still able to scuttle off into the grass – otherwise, it would have been a sitting target for a hungry bird, and that might well be how it got injured in the first place.
Oviposit: verb; a zoological term, relating especially to insects, which means to lay an egg or eggs. According to the Oxford Dictionary, the word first came in to use in the early 19th century and is a combination of ‘ovi’ for egg and ‘posit’, from the Latin verb ponere, meaning to place.
Today, at Lavernock Nature Reserve, I was eating my lunch while sitting on the bench near the dragonfly pond, when this female Emperor dragonfly came along and began ovipositing, carefully manoeuvring her body to place several eggs beneath each lily pad before moving on to the next. All the while, her mate was patrolling overhead to ensure no one interfered with this important process.