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.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

There's something in the water

Last week there were lots of families pond dipping outside my office (or perhaps having a competition to see how many thousand tadpoles they could catch, it was hard to tell). Amongst the usual suspects they caught a larva that the leaders were unfamiliar with and they brought it for me to have a look at. I had an inkling that is might be a larva of one of the china-mark moths but they live inside a case made from leaves of water plants and this was free-living. I picked some lily leaves and brought it home where it now resides in a miniature pond (aka a Sainsbury's minestrone soup container!). The next morning it had cut out a piece of leaf and sewn it onto another leaf and was clearly a china-mark larva.

The larva is quite big and I suspect that it is Brown China-mark Elophila nymphaeata but I've never seen and of the china-mark larvae before so will retain it to breed through the adult.

 Keeping it in the soup container was interesting because each day there was a smattering of wet droppings on the lid of the container. The larva clearly fires its droppings upwards with some force! I suppose this makes sense in the wild as it means the water immediately surrounding the larva doesn't get polluted.

The larva has now cut out a second piece of leaf to make a case which it attached to the side of the container above the water line and it has presumably pupated.

On Wednesday evening I called in briefly at Farlington Marshes where I found a number of the hoverfly Eristalinus sepulchralis, a new species for me. It is found in marshes where there is lots of rotting vegetation or the ground is enriched with cow dung. The spotty eyes are just visible in the photo.

Also there was a fully grown Oak Eggar larva wandering in search of somewhere to pupate.

More Wood Warbler news tomorrow!

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