Monday, 30 May 2016

Holly Blue ovipositing, unusually on Cotoneaster

This Holly Blue laid several eggs on a Cotoneaster in my garden, which is very unusual.

Female Holly Blue making a dummy run at laying an egg
on this Cotoneaster leaf
After the practice run, the female decides to do it properly and starts depositing several eggs on the flower buds of the Cotoneaster.

The Holly Blue ovum on the flower bud of the Cotoneaster flower.

A close-up of the Holly Blue ovum.

Broad-bordered Bee Hawkmoth

The Broad-bordered Bee Hawkmoth is a day flying insect and can be found feeding on Bugle one of it's favourite nectar foods, on a hot summers day. Photographed in Oaken Wood, Surrey B.C. butterfly reserve, United Kingdom.

The ovum are laid on the undersides of wild Honeysuckle leaves.

Freshly laid Broad-bordered Bee Hawk-moth's ovum


Butterflies of Oaken Wood, B.C. reserve, Surrey

Oaken Wood is a small area within the Chiddingfold Wood complex and, is Butterfly conservation's reserve for Surrey, England, U.K.

The Wood White is one of the reserves flag ship butterflies, and is a rare species in Britain. It has two broods a year. The 1st brood fly from late April to the end of June and, the 2nd brood, from early July to late August.

1st brood Wood Whites copulating

2nd brood Wood White, female

 Please go to the 2.6.2016 for more information on the Wood Whites of Chiddingfold Wood.

And the 4.9.2015 for the life cycle of the 1st and 2nd brood Wood Whites.

Green Hairstreaks are building in numbers after a few bleak years and fly from late April to June

Small Coppers have become a rarity in this wood  and, are very rarely seen. This is a male Small Copper [which is smaller than the female] feeding on Fleabane, commonly found locally.

Brimstones are on the other hand, are doing well and, can be seen flying tirelessly up and down the woodland rides. Brimstones only have one brood but overwinter as a butterfly.

Here a male is trying to mate with a female, but the female is rebuffing the male, while another male is sitting to one side, waiting....

The Comma another hibernator, has fallen in numbers over the last couple of years, but can still be found in small numbers

The Green-veined White is regularly seen, with males continually seeking out females along the sunny woodland rides.  In the photo below is a 2nd brood male.

The Dingy Skipper is found in small numbers but, are increasing in number

Male Dingy Skipper

The Grizzled Skipper can still be found here, but for how much longer? As the population of this lovely little insect has fallen drastically.

Male Grizzled Skipper

Small Whites are also seen within Oaken Wood, but their numbers fluctuate yearly.

A newly emerged Small White female
Large whites, again can be found in small numbers.

Another of our hibernators, the Peacock is frequently seen here.

Male Peacock

As is the Small Tortoiseshell.

Female Small Tortoiseshell

The Small Skippers are found just about everywhere, and a lovely little butterfly thats so full of energy.

Male Small skipper
Again, the Large Skippers are found in very good numbers.

Female Large Skipper

Essex Skippers are also found here albeit in small numbers.

Male Essex Skipper
Speckled Woods are also present in average numbers, especially along the woodland rides.

Female Speckled Wood
Ringlets can be found everywhere, along the rides and footpaths.

Male Ringlet

Marble Whites are doing very well here and are spreading throughout the Chiddingfold Wood complex.

Female Marbled White

Meadow Browns are another butterfly that is found here in very good numbers.

Male Meadow Brown
Red Admirals frequent the wood on a regular basis, normally being seen feeding on Bramble Flowers and, taking salts from the damp ground, Horse droppings etc.

Male Red Admiral extracting salts from a discarded Snail shell

White Admiral another butterfly that can easily been seen here , even though numbers had fallen, but seem to be making a recovery.

Male White Admiral
Purple Hairstreak numbers have fallen drastically over the last few years, but can be found low down on very hot days. One off the hardest butterflies to get a photo off.

A 1st instar Purple Hairstreak larva

Brown Hairstreaks are very rarely seen here even though the eggs are found quite easily.

Male Brown Hairstreak
Small Heath is another butterfly that seems to be making a small comeback after a few barren years.

Female Small Heath
Silver-washed Fritillaries are found in excellent numbers, flying up and down the woodland rides on a sunny day.

Male Silver-washed Fritillary on Bramble flower, a favourite  with this species for nectar
Holly Blue is not so often seen, but can be found in very small numbers.

A freshly emerged male Holly Blue
Male Orange-tips can be seen flying up and down the woodland rides looking for females.

Male Orange-tip on Wood Spurge, a plant that attracts a lot of woodland insects
Common Blues are found in good numbers, but only with the 2nd brood. The 1st brood are practically none existing for some reason.

Female Common Blue
Brown Argus are very rarely seen here, but 3 were seen on the same day in early August of 2015.

One of the Brown Argus that was seen last year
Purple Emperor the star of this wood, and the one all butterfly enthusiasts want to see and photograph.

Male Purple Emperor taking salts

The photo everyone wants...


Monday, 23 May 2016

Southern Wood Ant

Southern Wood Ant

Southern Wood Ant on Wood Spurge, a favourite plant amongst nectar loving insects

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Early purple Orchid

The beautiful Early Purple Orchids are in flower between the months of April, May and June. It is found throughout the British Isles.

                                                                         Smile please

Butterfly ovum [eggs] Part one

The female Wood Whites ovum are laid on several species of plants, including Bird's-foot Trefoil, Bitter Vetch, Tufted Vetch and Meadow Vetchling. The ovum are laid singly on isolated plants rather than large clumps of these plants. They are laid anywhere from 50mm [2"] off the ground to just over 1200mm [just over 4"] depending on the time of year.

A pair of freshly laid Wood White ovum that have yet to dry.

Two very freshly laid ovum on the underside of a Bird's-foot Trefoil leaf
When the ovum finally dries they are white in colour.

A white Wood White's ovum on Meadow Vetchling
Then turning yellow after about five days.

A Wood Whites ovum having turned yellow
About 24 hours before the tiny Larva emerge from the ovum that was laid by a 1st brood Wood White female, turns a light pink in colour. This colouring of the ovum only happens with the ovum that are laid by 1st brood females.

A light pink coloured ovum, this coloration only applies to the ovum
laid by 1st brood female Wood Whites. The small black spots that are visible through
the transparent membrane/skin of the ovum are found on the larva's cheek
throughout the larval stage, and the red V shape that is also visible is the
Caterpillars mouth

However, ovum that are laid by the 2nd brood female Wood Whites, are orange 24 hours before the larva emerge. Because the membrane/skin of the ovum is transparent this is the colour of the larva inside the egg. This colouring only occurs with the ovum/larva that are laid by 2nd brood females.

A Wood White 2nd brood ovum 24 hours before the larva emerges

And finally the tiny orange 1st instar larva still inside the ovum.

The ovum of the Speckled Wood is laid on various types of common grass, including Cock's-foot and False Brome, usually in warm sheltered places with very little or no sun by females laying late summer. Eggs being laid in May can be deposited in much sunnier places than ones laid later in the season.

The ovum is white when laid and stays white for the duration of this stage, [even though they sometimes seem to have a lightish green tint to the colour of the ovum. This can be caused by light refraction] until about 24 hours before the larva emerges, when you can see the larva through the transparent membrane/skin of the ovum. Which has a black head and, a white body covered in black spots.

A speckled Wood ovum thats seems to have a slight green tinge to it,
this is most probably caused by light refraction.
A closer look at an image of the white ovum of the Speckled Wood.

And 24 hours before the tiny caterpillar emerges from the ovum.

The tiny larva is easily seen through the transparent membrane/skin of the ovum 24 hours
before emerging

This period lasts about 10-14 days depending on the time of year, whether the egg was laid in early or late summer. These times can also vary because of weather conditions, hot, cold etc.