Sunday, July 31, 2016

More Digger Wasps and Friends

Another visit to the sandbank produced a few more species including the Red-banded Sand Wasp with its prey - a moth caterpillar, the splendidly named Astata boops both male and female (with its prey - green shieldbug) and a Red-legged Spider Wasp (without its prey!). Great sightings of the beautiful little cuckoo wasp - identified on-line as Hedychrum nobile or H.niemalai but still no Cerceris wasps as hosts seen. A few more Bee-wolf flight shots and a single hoverfly reflecting the relative absence of hoverflies at the moment

Friday, July 29, 2016

Tourists in Cambridge

There have been several articles concerned about the numbers of tourists visiting Cambridge this summer though others see it as very good for business. It can be a problem for the tour guides who even resort to carrying steps to be heard by their group. Kings College attracts the largest numbers even though part is closed for organ rennovation. There are still quiet places to be found as in Clare College.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Strange Interactions in the Insect World

We spent the morning photographing  on a sandy hillside in Bedfordshire photographing the Beewolf Wasp, Philanthus triangulum, which preys on honey bees and various other insects. The Beewolf wasps sting their prey in a membranous location on the ventral surface and the venom quickly paralyzes major voluntary muscles, yet does not kill the prey. The Beewolf carries the prey back to a tunnel, which can be as much as 1 m long. Up to 34 lateral tunnels each ending in a brood chamber branch off from the main tunnel. Each brood chamber is stocked with one to six honeybees and the female lays an egg in each.
Minute red and green Cuckoo Wasps, either Hedychrum nobile or H.niemalai, which can only be separated by looking at a specimen, were flying around the tunnel mouths. It is reported that they use species of Cerceris wasp as hosts but we only observed Philanthus so will have to look more carefully at all the black and yellow wasps next time.
There were also Pantaloon Bees (a newly invented name apparently) Dasypoda hirtipes.They have the nickname from the large back-leg baskets which when full of pollen look like pantaloos. They are parasitised by the Miltogramma fly, which I also recorded.
Finally I photographed  the black and white Common Spiny Digger Wasp Oxybelus uniglumis, which carries its prey impaled  on the sting. This no doubt has a parasite of its own
So in the words originally of Jonathan Swift
"Great fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite 'em,
And little fleas have lesser fleas, and so ad infinitum.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Return to Gamlingay Woods

We met some friends from CCC for a morning walk in the woods hoping to see lots of Silver-washed Fritillaries. There were a few around but disappointing numbers. It was good to record the southern Hawker and White-legged Damselfly along with Large skipper, Peacock, Large White and Brimstone.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Afternoon In Gamlingay Woods

 In the afternoon on Thursday, we visited Gamlingay Woods - my first subject was a Hornet resting for a very short time before catching a hoverfly and off before the next frame. Silver Washed Fritillaries present but very active only occasionally resting to feed and not in the numbers of previous years. Other butterflies included the Large Skipper and a Specked Wood so worn you could see through the wings.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Lark Rise Farm Barton

We visited Lark Rise Farm, Cambridgeshire yesterday, a Countryside Restoration Trust Property, to hopefully photograph some of the specialities such as Small Copper and Small Heath. These were absent but did manage a selection of insects which give the feel of a warm dry meadow in summer (compared to our afternoon woodland venue (next blog entry). The Essex skipper has black underneath the antenna tips and the Small skipper has orange - otherwise very similar..

Ann Miles Photography - My Favourite Images of the Past10 years or so