Saturday, 7 August 2010

Insect

No blog entry yesterday, as Malcolm and I had the sad occasion of the funeral of our friend Moira to attend. But today, we set out around Shipley Park for a stroll along Slack Lane and through the farmyard of Head House Farm and the collection of old farm buildings associated with the area - now known as 'The Brook'.  From there, it was under the old Mapperley Branch Line of the mineral railways which I have mentioned before, then turning back along more old rail tracks and spoil from West Hallam Colliery and home again.
On one of the many, large Mugwort plants, which grow along these paths, I spotted (no pun intended) this spotty little creature. A Harlequin Ladybird (Harmonia axyridis succinea).
The Harlequin Ladybirds are very variable in colour and the pattern of spots on their wing cases (elytra). This can make it difficult to distinguish a true Harlequin from the many different species of native Ladybird. Help can be had from this website
Harlequins (or Multicoloured Asian Ladybirds), have staged a remarkable invasion of Britain and almost everywhere else in the world over the last few years and started to cause problems to our native species because they prey upon their eggs and larvae.
The spread of these little invaders can be seen from the maps on this page.
Another insect species seen this morning, this time on the many Knapweed flowers which adorn the parkland right now, was this Red-tailed Bumblebee. (Bombus lapidarius).
This individual was showing some wear and tear on the edges of its wings, but didn't seem too worried by that as it buried its head into the nectar-rich flowers. Like all bees in Britain, it is under threat and its numbers have fallen considerably over recent times. The exact causes for this are still a matter for debate. But for now, its nice to see them busy in the meadows around Shipley Park.
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