Poor old Gilbert is getting restless. Despite the fact that there is more interest in wildlife than ever before, it seems that most of the so-called conservation organisations are losing interest in species. Instead they prefer to babble on about landscape scale conservation and ecosystem services (whatever they are). Could this be because most of their staff don't have any knowledge about species if they don't have four legs?
This is my attempt to encourage an interest in good old-fashioned natural history.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Insect days

Last Friday I had an insect day. That's what teachers get loads of days off for isn't it? Started off in a wood near Dorking where I was looking for the UK BAP Priority Species Lampronia capitella.

The larvae feed on currants and are consequently subject to chemical onslaught in many gardens. The reduction in the number of people growing currants is probably also an issue. It was saddening to read in a recent Norfolk Moth Group newsletter that an eminent lepidopterist found this species in his garden and promptly sprayed his currant bushes. What hope is there when even someone who should care is not willing to sacrifice a few currants for such a rare species?

The weather was really good and I saw lots of insects for the first time this year including the stunning cranefly Ctenophora pectinicornis. Ok, I'm willing to concede 'stunning for a cranefly'! Go on google it and check out the males antennae (males have a swollen end to the abdomen rather than a pointed end). Sadly this is the one Ctenophora that I've seen before but on Monday I found a female C. flaveolata egg laying in loose sand at Broxhead Common. Also new for the year was the impressive Wasp Beetle.

Later in the day I called in at Chiddingfold Forest and saw my first Wood White of the year.

On Sunday evening I called in to Yateley Common briefly. No Nightingales were heard but I found the larvae of Incurvaria pectinea (closely related to Lampronia capitella) which mines the leaves of birch before cutting out a section of the leaf and dropping to the ground where it feeds on dead leaves.

I also found the larval case of Coleophora hemerobiella which feeds on hawthorn. This case was fixed for pupation.

More catching up to do but need to get an early start on the Wood Warblers in the morning, assuming that it doesn't pour with rain all morning again (thanks weather men for not predicting that at all!).

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