Saturday, 27 July 2013

Creepy-crawly

With the warm weather, one invariably gets a dramatic increase in the numbers of insects.  At the moment, the butterflies and moths are doing pretty well having been decimated over the last few years.  On our walk around the local farmland this morning, we spotted several Gatekeepers (Pyronia tithonus).  These small, brown butterflies are still relatively common in the UK, particularly among tall grasses which grow close to hedgerows, trees or scrub.
As Adults, they favour Brambles and Ragwort as their food source, but their larval form feeds mainly on various grass species.
Along the old Nutbrook Canal, we spotted a rather beautiful insect, a male Banded Demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens).  Easily told from the female by the dark 'thumb print' marks on their wings, these broad-winged damselflies are also rather common in the UK, but still wonderful to see flitting around the water.
Finally, another 'creepy-crawly', but not an insect this time.  The arachnids are not my favourite class of animal, but this colourful little creature caught my eye as she was protecting her eggs on our grape vine.  With the tricky name Araniella cucurbitina, it is sometimes called a Cucumber Green Spider.  This is a female.
The rotund body of this little charmer, is bright green with paler, yellow streaks and a series of small dots over the abdomen.  Common in the south of the UK, it is not so often seen the further north you go, although its range has expanded further into Scotland since the 1980's.
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