Big Butterfly Count, bee grabbing flies, other insects and moths and some summer seed heads and fruits.
4 Gatekeepers (Hedge Browns)
4 Large ‘cabbage’ Whites (image 1)
3 Meadow Browns
2 Red Admirals
1 Holly Blue and
1 Small Tortoiseshell.
There were more species but these were the butterflies I counted in just 15 minutes. Sadly, for the meadow browns, the village green had just been cut for hay (image 2) and the meadow browns were flitting over the short grass looking for egg laying locations. Hopefully these, and other grass feeding species, had laid their eggs safely low to the ground. Shame that I did not find any small coppers, peacocks, marbled whites, or ringlets in my 15 minutes although they do occur. More information on the Big Butterfly Count can be found on: https://butterfly-conservation.org/news-and-blog/the-2023-big-butterfly-count-has-begun and it would be good to get many Stroud entries for the survey. All you do is count the butterflies you see in one place for just 15 minutes and enter the data on the website. The results are published later in the year.
Other insects on the village green have included two Conopid Big-headed Fly bee parasites. The waisted bee-grabber, Phylocephala rufobes, (image 3) sits on flowers and waits for a bee to arrive and the ferruginous bee-grabber, Sicus ferruginous, (image 4) which will chase after bees. In both cases they lay their eggs between the bee’s body segments where the fly larvae feed on the internal tissues until the bee dies and when the flies pupate and finally emerge to start the cycle all over again.
On hogweed flowers in our garden, I found the strangely named Gasteruption jaculator (image 5). This strange female wasp is a parasite of hole-nesting solitary bees such as those found in bee hotels. Gasteruption has a long white tipped sheath which protects the long ovipositor and which the wasp uses to cut into bee nest holes and lay its eggs on the bee larvae. Instead of bees emerging, Gasteruption emerges instead.
I must mention this female hornet mimic hoverfly Volucella zonaria (image 6) that I found on the flowering Buddleia bush beside the walkway that leads to Petersfield’s main Tesco. This large hornet-like hoverfly enters wasps nests, laying its eggs in the nest debris and where the larvae develop (but apparently not in hornet nests). They were first found on the south coast in about 1940 and have since spread, supplemented by migrants from the Mediterranean and eastern Europe.
Moving away from insects, we were pleased that our wildlife camera picked up a tawny owl at the end of garden (image 7). Our garden seems to be full of baby birds with young starlings, blue-tits, great-tits, dunnocks, chaffinches, house sparrows, blackbirds and crows. The boar badger at the sett we have been monitoring, has been digging out old bedding and bringing in new bedding (image 8).
Young squirrels chase each other and feed from within our ‘squirrel-proof’ bird food cage (image 9). They also steal our hazel nuts cracking them open to get to the protein-rich kernel within (images 10 and 11). Thrushes find white-lipped snails (yellow with spiral black markings) and bash them against our path and our wildlife refugia ‘tins’ to get to the tasty morsel inside (image 12).
Daddy-long-legs (or cellar) spiders (image 13) are growing ever larger indoors, constructing their webs in room corners and which spiders use their long legs to catch much larger house spiders.
Reedmace is developing its brown flower heads in the Seven Stars pond (image 14) and looks as if it about to take over the whole pond to the exclusion of much open water. Our wild service trees are forming their fruits that were one-time called ‘chequers’ and used to brew alcoholic beverages (image 15). While wild service trees are native to the UK, I have never seen a wild tree in Stroud. Our two trees came from the Hamble valley where they are common. Field maple trees are forming their winged fruits, but I notice that those in our hedge are developing fungal spots (image 16).
A few moths that have turned up in the trap recently. The beautiful golden-Y is certainly a rather wonderful moth when seen in daylight or camera flash reflecting off its scales (image 17) but why it should be so bright when it flies at night I do not know. In contrast, is the drinker moth which would never be seen on the ground as it looks so much like a dead leaf (image 18). Finally, here is a head shot of the brilliant green large emerald moth (image 19).