On Friday the foreast for today looked dry and sunny but, by this morning, showers were forecast from 1pm. Unfortunately the rain arrived about 11.30 and persisted the rest of the day. However we managed to reach the stretch of the Dyke with the Lizard orchids before the rain set in. It was very windy so not ideal for flower portraits but managed a few Lizard orchids and a Pyramidal. The butterflies were mainly resting out of the wind and rain like this Ringlet.
Friday, June 27, 2014
These are the images that I took on the last two mornings at Kingcombe Lodge. The Blue-tailed Damselfly has 5 female forms.The top is one of the immature forms, rufescens, which has a salmon pink thorax (violacea has a violet thorax) . When mature the female has 3 colour forms: typica is blue like the male, infuscans has an olive green thorax and brown tail spot and infuscans-obseleta has thorax in pale brown with a blue tail. Difficult to see what evolutionary advantage of maintaining all these variants! The reeds have a large population of Long-jawed Orb Web Spider, here seen catching a Damselfly and spinning its egg cocoon on a leaf. The Grasshopper and the Midge were warming in the early sun.
Thursday, June 26, 2014
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
While we were in Dorset, we noticed many flies that at first appearance were just resting on leaves but on closer inspection were dead. They were attached in an invisible way to the leaves as if in a trance.
I have now found the answer. They were infect by Entomophthora muscae, a fungus that releases millions of spores; if they land on a fly hyphae grow into its brain to control its crawling activity. The fly crawl upwards until it latches onto something high – eg one of the upper leaves of a nettle.There it adopts the pose in the images above while the fungal hyphae permeate its body, stick its feet to the leaf and digests its internal organs. The fungus then produces sporangia which erupt from the fly’s body and distribute its spores into the air.
Truly the stuff of science fiction.