This first is a definite Good - our ladybirds which disappeared (seemingly to spend spring in the UK!) have reappeared. I first came across some eggs around the end of May on a small wild poppy that I was about to weed out, then the same kind of eggs on a dill leaf just close by. I didn't even know they were ladybird eggs at first; didn't really keep an eye on them and never saw any larvae, until just last week when I discovered a pupa right near where the eggs had been laid. And then I spotted a fully grown Seven-spot Ladybird (Coccinella septempunctata) on my spinach, still close to this same spot. And then my pupa eclosed.....
|Ladybird eggs on dill (top) and poppy (right), and the pupa on the left.|
|Some hours later with dried out wings and the spots now starting |
to be visible, making ID possible. The next day it was a bit
more orange and the following day it had gone.
|An adult Seven-spot Ladybird. In my excitement to take some photos I didn't notice |
it was eating an aphid (top right) which I obviously made it drop, poor thing.
I don't call many insects bad, but this one is. It's pretty but it is a serious agricultural pest. I have never taken a photo of one before because it's one of the few critters that I kill immediately. If you haven't guessed by now, it's a Colorado (Potato) Beetle. I've never had a bad infestation but I do keep my eyes open and look over my spuds every couple of days to check. They also feed on tomatoes and aubergines/eggplants as they are the same family as spuds, but here when I do find them, it's on my potatoes.
|Colorado Beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata) running around on my gardening glove.|
I do feel bad calling these True Crickets ugly, but they give me the creeps as they are too much like cockroaches for my liking! I haven't got this close to a living one before as I've usually only seen them dead or semi chewed by a cat. This one was trying to get away from me, I think, as it wouldn't keep still and was cornered up in a path between wall and wood edging.
|True Cricket of the family Gryllidae.|
And now on to a mix of critters. The following are not doing any real harm here although I'll have to keep an eye on what these bugs are up to when I plant out my winter brassicas! I found these eggs because, again, they were on dill and at first glance slightly resembled a tiny caterpillar so I had to check them out. A bit of research and I found that they were probably Shield/Stink Bug eggs, so I waited.... and sure enough they were.
Now I can't be 100% sure, but right next to this dill is a load of Ornate Shield Bugs (Eurydema ornata), who seemed to migrate to the young emerging plants of nasturtiums when I took out last year's winter brassicas in the early spring. Nasturtiums are a brassica and often used by us gardeners as a companion plant which attract both blackfly (aphids) and the two Cabbage White butterfly species to lay their eggs on, in an effort to keep them off our crops. You can see from the photos that they have really damaged the nasturtium leaves, and I certainly won't be letting them do that to my kale!
|Bottom left are Ornate Shield Bug (Eurydema ornata) nymphs on my nasturtiums |
and the rest of the photos are eggs on nearby dill and just eclosed nymphs,
and a few days later one wandering off (bottom right).
|Here are a mating pair of Ornate Shield Bugs (Eurydema ornata) and below |
some nymphs at various stages of development (called instars).
You can see how sucked of sap that nasturtium leaf is!
Whilst picking blackcurrants I was getting covered in black ants which was a bit annoying, but I was very pleased to see a small Vapourer Moth caterpillar drop out of the bushes! These are one of the Tussock family of moths and are really cool, but I wouldn't want to touch one with those long bristles, so I am glad it didn't actually land on me. It has a little friend too, a young earwig!
|Vapourer Moth (Orgyia antiqua) caterpillar and an Earwig nymph looking rather cute at this stage.|
Now this is an interesting situation I have been watching over the last few weeks. This is a groundsel plant, a weed that I'd normally hoe off, but it is one of the host plants for the Cinnabar Moth so once I'd seen the moths flitting about the veg patch I had to leave some of these weeds here. Now many more groundsel is springing up and nearly all of them have at least one caterpillar on. Some seem to move off in search of fresh food, but many stay put and this plant below is now almost defoliated, but with dozens of caterpillars still on it. They are cannibalistic when there is not enough food. I have moved a few of them onto other groundsel plants and some onto ragwort which is another one of their host plants, but they curl up when you touch them so are not easy to transfer as they fall off! Can you also spot the brightly coloured bugs on the plant?
|Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris) supporting two species of insect.|
|This bug Melanocoryphus albomaculatus also likes feeding on Senecio species; |
strangely enough a bug that is more at home around the Med area and is a lover of
hot dry places. Dry it can find in my garden though hot only sometimes!
|I'm finding plenty of eggs so not all these Cinnabar (Tyria jacobaeae) caterpillars are going |
to make it to adulthood as there is not enough food to go around.
|And here are the adult Cinnabar moths, but .... I found them like this, dead.|
They were obviously in the act of mating but what happened I have no idea!
Now these following bugs were found whilst picking raspberries, so technically outside of the veg patch but who cares! They are Dock Bug (Coreus marginatus) nymphs, and I was so happy to find them as I've never seen them before. They are so incredibly cute.
|Dock Bug (Coreus marginatus) nymph on raspberry leaf.|
|More nymphs of Coreus marginatus including a younger nymph which was much darker |
and sizewise seemed to be about 50% antennae, bottom left!
And now I'll finish with a few insects from my Pollinator Meadow, although the self seeded Phacelia next to it is actually occupying what will be my leek patch later on.
|All kinds of bee love Phacelia but I've never yet figured out why this bumble bee on the right|
has black pollen sacs, I've seen this a few times before and they look like big wax balls. ??
|Top left: Rose Chafer Beetle (Cetonia aurata).|
Top right: Common Red Soldier Beetle (Rhagonycha fulva).
Bottom: I think the same (unknown) solitary bee, with possibly a female Oedemera nobilis.