Wildlife at the Autumn Equinox
The autumn equinox has passed and cooler blustery days are upon us. Buzzards and Red kites still soar in the sky and our smaller birds are feeding up to survive the winter. Meanwhile, many of our small creatures are also preparing for winter and taking advantage of our uncut vegetation and last of the flowers. Ragwort provides late stage nectar and Ivy, in full flower, provides for a wide range of insects. Other flowers just hanging on, include Honeysuckle, Creeping thistle, Dandelion and Black knapweed. Autumn though, is the time for spiders and here are a few.
Walking the Village Green over the last few days provided some thrills (or at least to those liking smaller things). Just through the kissing gate by the bus stop and in the long grass by the hedge to the right was a bright yellow blob and which turned out to be the Four-spotted orb-web spider Araneus quadratus, a species I had never seen before (image 1). Not only that, but further around the village green was another large yellow spider, this time the rather scarce Pyramidus variety of the Marbled orb-web spider Araneus marmoreus, another species I had not seen before (image 2).
The common Garden-cross orb-web spiders Araneus diadematus were making their large spiral webs across the brambles (image 3). While on the subject of spiders, this Lace-weaver spider Amaurobius similis turned up on our bathroom wall. Apparently one of our most common spiders and so they are probably in your house too (image 4).
A real pleasure were two Small copper butterflies (a male and a female) feeding on ragwort. These were the first small coppers I have seen all year and good to see that they are still with us, even in vastly depleted numbers; here is one of them (image 5). Bright orange butterflies sunning on the brambles are Comma butterflies (image 6).
Ivy is in full flower at the moment and providing food for a wide range of insects such as many hover flies, wasps and bees. In particular, the Ivy bee with its striped abdomen that emerges right on time for the ivy flowers (image 7) and a real sign of autumn. Almost the last of the bumble bees are the Carder bees feeding on brambles and ivy (image 8). Brightly coloured Knot-grass caterpillars are becoming common and will have to pupate soon to survive the winter (image 9).
Finally are the bush-crickets. Several species of these grasshopper-like insects but with long thin antennae are still about and including this Dark bush-cricket, one of our larger species (image 10).