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Monday, 25 June 2012

I itch! (Buggy photos 3)

No sooner than summer is officially here, and I'm a complete itchy mess due to my 'friends', the harvest mites (aoutats, chiggers) coming out to play. I hate the bloody things with a vengeance as it doesn't matter how many layers of clothing I wear, they will still get me. They are not flying insects and you can't see them with the naked eye. They don't even suck blood or inject venom into you. Oh no, these little lovelies feed on your flesh by sticking a feeding tube into you, injecting you with a flesh dissolving enzyme and then schlurping bits of you up like soup, leaving you with a lovely itchy red scabby mark. They also have a tendancy to go for your sweaty bits, so inside your bra strap (if you wear one that is) or knicker elastic. Lovely isn't it? If you've just moved to Brittany, or France, or even anywhere in the countryside and you've suddenly been scratching like mad and blaming the poor dog or cat, or even wondering if you've got an infestation of bed bugs, I suggest you read up about this horrible creature here, before you start DDTing the dog or your house, rather like I did my first summer here.

I am of course liberally slathered in insect repellant, but having forgotten our long daylight hours and the fact that regular strength Jungle Formula only lasts about 6 hours, the buggers have got me. It doesn't help that whilst taking photos I have been stalking through long grass and doing a lot of kneeling down or sitting in it. Oh how I suffer for my art.

So it seems only fitting to make another buggy post of some of the more pleasant insects I've been coming across. Of course, some of them are not particularly nice to the creatures that they or their own larvae eat - but so long as they leave me alone, quite frankly I don't care!

(All these photos are much better viewed when clicked on and seen full screen size. Unless you are looking through a mobile phone sized screen!)

Hawthorn shield bug (Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale)
(Is it just me, or did anyone else do a double take at that second word and think hemorrhoids?)

(Probably) Red Tailed bumble bee (Bombus lapidarius) on coriander flowers

Marmalade hoverfly (Episyrphus balteatus), Female,
on a cranesbill geranium flower

Marmalade hoverfly (Episyrphus balteatus), Male,
on a foxglove

The larvae of the Marmalade hoverfly feed on aphids, and the adult is a pollinator, so they are very welcome beneficial insects in the garden.

I think this is a Drone fly, Eristalis tenax, which is a hoverfly, on Verbena bonariensis

Ichneumon wasp, a parasitic wasp. Harmless to humans, not so nice to the insects
whose homes it lays its eggs in.

Ichneumon wasp

Mating Gendarmes, as they are known in France, or Firebugs
(Pyrrhocoris apterus)

Common yellow dung fly (Scathophaga stercoraria) again (it's everywhere!)

A Moth! No butterflies around at the moment so much excitement
was had seeing this in the woodland.
It's a Yellow Shell moth (Camptogramma bilineata)

You probably think I've become an entomologist overnight, with all those latin names and stuff. Actually I've either googled the ID if it is simple, or been helped by other people far more knowledgeable than me. If it's just plain, haven't got a clue then I'll tell you!

Haven't got a clue, on an Oxeye Daisy

Haven't got a clue, on an Erigeron flower (the size of
a lawn daisy, so you see how small these beetles are)

Very probably the Varied Carpet Beetle (Anthrenus verbasci). I mentioned them in
an earlier Buggy Photos post. You DON'T want them in your house. Outside they are happy pollinators though.

Little hoverfly (probably Syritta pipiens) on Erigeron.

This next one has to be one of my favourites, because I thought I was taking a nice photo of a pretty Zantedeschia (arum lily) flower and hadn't noticed what was lurking in it until I zoomed in on it. Gave me quite a shock!


That's all for now folks. Believe me, I am actually doing some gardening, not just stalking wee things around it. I'll do an update on the veg patch early next month, cos there really isn't a huge amount to say about it right now. It's not like it changes much week to week, or that I've got a red tomato to brag about. Fat chance!


  1. It's a whole other world isn't it!

    1. Certainly is! Thanks for commenting, Ladybug xx :-)

  2. Aaiieee I think we might have harvest mites round here. Never heard pf them before so you may have solved my mystery... I was being bitten quite ferociously by something so I was sure someone (ie a cat or dog, though not entirely ruling Jamie out) had fleas but I treat them for it so I was a bit baffled. I am so prone to any snacking type of insect. Have you been to the North West of Scotland? In August? At about eight in the evening? Talk about flesh crawling. Ooh I'm all itchy again now. And stunning photos by the way... that parasitic wasp is quite an elegant cove, ain't he?

    1. No haven't been there during summer because I've heard all about their midges! I hope you haven't got harvest mites, but if you do then keeping covered in lovely chemicals should help! The bites start itching either late evening or first thing in the morning after you have been outside working the day before, if that is any help, and they are quite small and red and always have a scabby bit, and the red bit lasts for ages leaving you looking like you've had a bad case of measles. The ONLY good thing about them is that I can't see the little buggers, cos I think I'd be sick if I could!

  3. Hey Mandy, I usually spray a little quirt of essential oils on my skin before going out to the garden... works like a charm! Let me know if you want my recipe. Miss Lady Bug

    1. I may need more that a litte squirt and would probably end up smelling pretty strong!!! It's always worth a try so would love to know your recipe. If you don't get notified of this reply I know where to find you!

  4. Good bugs. If it wasn't hammering down (again) I would have been inspired to go bug hunting.

    1. Thanks Nick! Too windy for any photos here today which is just as frustrating.