Sunday, 12 March 2017

Silver-washed Fritillary

The Silver-washed Fritillaries are commonly found in southern England and Wales, and also parts of Northern and Southern Ireland.

Habitat    
They prefer sunny woodland rides but, can also be found on disused fields/meadows surrounded by trees and sometimes in gardens.

 Flight season
From the middle of June to late August and, are single brooded.

Food
They nectar on a variety of flora, including Thistles and Tufted Vetch, and their favourite, Bramble Flowers.

Adults
The undersides of the wings are similar in both sexes but, the male has four very distinctive sex brands/bars on the upper forewing [they look like three joined-up H's] which are absent on the female's forewings.

Male Silver-washed Fritillary nectaring on Bramble Flowers
Clearly showing the four sex brands/bars
Male Silver-washed Fritillary on Tufted Vetch showing the undersides of it's wings
which are similar to the females
Female Silver-washed Fritillary

There are many aberrations to this species, and some are quite incredibly beautiful.

A rare and unusual male Silver-washed Fritillary aberration
Another beautiful male Silver-washed Fritillary aberration
Courtship
The courtship is probably the most energetic of any butterfly, with the male chasing after the female down woodland rides and continuously looping the female, [continuously flying over the top of the female, then dropping back behind her and repeating this over and over again].

A male Silver-washed Fritillary [top] just completing half the loop
on a female in the courtship ritual
Eggs
Once mated the females lay their eggs [ova, ovum] on the moss covered bark of north facing Oak Trees, with Dog Violets close by. The eggs when first laid are a light yellow in colour, turning a bluey-grey after about two weeks and hatching a further week later.

A freshly laid Silver-washed Fritillary's egg thats been attached to
the Moss growing on the bark of an Oak Tree
A Silver-washed Fritillary egg after two weeks
This particular egg has not hatched, but has been sucked dry
by another insect
Hibernation
When the tiny larva hatch, and have eaten it's empty egg shell, they immediately bury themselves deep into a crevice in the bark of the Oak Tree, hibernating there throughout the winter months. They emerge again in the Spring.

All photographs are the copyright of Nick Broomer
























Thursday, 9 March 2017

Gymnosoma rotundatum, Ladybird Fly

The Ladybird Fly is very rare in Britain and is only found in the southern counties of Surrey, Sussex and Kent.

They fly between the end of May and September.

Habitat, woodland clearings, parks, gardens and heathland.

They feed on nectar of a wide variety of flora.

They are a parasite, and lay their eggs on the bodies of various Sheildbugs. On hatching the tiny larva bore their way inside the Sheildbug body, until they are ready to pupate, when they bore their way out again and, pupate in the soil.

Ladybird Fly on Wood Spurge

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Ringlet

The Ringlet is one of Britain's commonest butterflies and can be found in meadows,  woodland rides and gardens etc. The males are slightly smaller and darker on the undersides of it's wings, than the females. They are single brooded, their flight season lasts about eight weeks, between the middle of June and, the middle of August. The females are believed to drop their eggs whilst in flight over lush grasses such as,  Tor-grass and Cock's-foot amongst others. It is one of the few species of butterfly that can be found flying in damp, drizzly weather. It overwinters as a larva, resuming feeding in early Spring.

Male Ringlet
Male Ringlet
Female Ringlet
Female Ringlet
This female Ringlet has an Ant partly up her abdomen and,
she was quite distressed and uncomfortable

Ringlets copulating, the female is on the left

















Sunday, 5 March 2017

Southern-wood Ant

A Southern-wood Ant, a closer view....



Photograph is the copyright of Nick Broomer.

Goldcrest

Britain's smallest bird and is commonly found throughout most of Britain. It is more easily seen hunting for insects in the winter months. In the summer it can be observed in gardens where they nest in a wide variety of Conifer Trees. The suspended nest is made of moss, lichen and spider's webs, and lined with hairs and feathers. There are normally two broods a year.

Goldcrest perched on the side of a Conifer Tree at the end of my garden, where it nested.

Rhingia campestris, [Heineken Hoverfly]

One of our commonest Hoverflies and, is very distinctive with it's pronounced snout. It is found in many different habitats including sheltered woodland rides where their numbers can be quite numerous. They fly between early April and October, sometimes into early November. They feed on a wide range of flora, where the males feed on nectar and, the females on the pollen.

Male

The photo below depicting the unusual feeding habit, with it's extra mouthpart, rather like that of a hoover bag.

male




All photographs are the copyright of Nick Brooomer

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Small Copper

Even though the Small Copper can be found throughout most of Britain, it's numbers have fallen drastically over the last few years, becoming very rare in some areas.

The females are slightly larger than the males and, the male's abdomen is thinner than the females,  [best way to determine the sex of this butterfly] otherwise the sexes are alike. Normally in August an aberration form of this species can be found called Caeruleopunctata [mainly in the females] where there is a row of blue spots toward the bottom of each of the upper side of the hind wings and, there is also a very rarely seen aberration Albino form. There are 2-3 broods each year, flying between the beginning of April and the end of October.

The males can be found overlooking their territory on a favourite perch [whether it is on the ground, a flower, grass stem etc]  and, every now and again dashing off at high speed looking for females for which to mate with or, fighting off intruders. They use various flowers to feed on, including Fleabane, Ragwort [one of their favourites] and Thistles etc.

The females lay their eggs [ova, ovum] on Common and Sheep's Sorrel, even sometimes on Dock Leaves. They overwinter as a caterpillar.

Male Small Coper on Ragwort

Male Small Copper on Ribwort Plantain, overlooking his territory

Female Small Copper, form Caeruleopunctata

Female Small Copper



All photographs are the copyright of Nick Broomer