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Friday, 11 September 2015

It's starting to feel a bit like autumn

I'm one of those people who refuse to accept that it is autumn before the due date, i.e. the autumn equinox. However all the signs are appearing, from the cooler mornings with dewy grass showing up tiny webs which I try not to step on, and larger orb webs visible when I let the chickens out early in the morning. After the rain some shroomy things have been appearing, though not like the amounts we'll get later on in real autumn. Robins seem to have returned; although I don't think they go away, they always seem absent during the summer and then appear to come back because they start singing when the others birds stop, and continue singing all through the winter. Thank goodness for Robins! The late summer butterflies are back and lovely and colourful, ditto the late summer damselflies and dragonflies I see here. And we are eating our pears and it won't be long before the first apples are ready - they are already looking plump and red on our best eating apple trees. 

Gathering pears - we have two more trees
but there are not many on them.

Looking for Wasp Spiders at home with a helper.
We didn't find any here.

The bit of lawn that was brownest is greening up nicely,
although half of that green is weeds!
Some bits have had to be mown already.

A fat fungi I've never seen before -
the stalk is more than an inch in diameter.

About four feet away this little one came up,
which after three days is now looking like the one above.
Any ideas anyone?

This is a nymph of the Striped Shield Bug (Graphosoma lineatum),
the red and black stripey bug.

This true bug I have no idea! All I know is that it's not the
Green Shield Bug (Palomena prasina) cos I found one in the garden
and checked out its underside..... I love the colours, whatever this is!
And before you ask, I have no idea why I did not take
a photo of its top side..... hmmm!

Back to those bug eggs again - this is the best I could do.
They do look like tiny bugs emerging, but as the eggs are 1mm wide,
I really can't do any better than this.

On the M. W. Walk, we came across this beautiful dragonfly.
It's a Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta) and probably a young male,
as the mature males tend to have a blue/brown abdomen.

I had to take a few photos as I've never seen this dragonfly before so here it is again.....
Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta)

At home the Western Willow Spreadwings (Lestes viridis, or Chalcolestes viridis) have appeared.
They are always happy to perch on vegetation near the pond.

Western Willow Spreadwing (Lestes viridis, or Chalcolestes viridis).

Another Harvestman, quite different from the one I showed last post.
I've never delved into Harvestman identification so I'm hoping JJ might know! :-)

Sawfly larvae on a small Alder tree by the pond.
This one in the foreground has just had a moult, and you can see the
discarded skin under the first three true legs on the twig.
Its head will darken up like the other one after a few hours.

On the same tree I found this tussock moth larva. It looks very like a Vapourer Moth (Orgyia antiqua) but the tail end is a bit different and not the normal dark colour. However I can't find any other European tussock moth whose caterpillar looks remotely like this, so maybe it isn't a final instar one??

Vapourer Moth (Orgyia antiqua) caterpillar - I think!

Vapourer moth (Orgyia antiqua) caterpillar - I think!

This moth was on a stinging nettle by the orchard -
it doesn't have a common name, only Latin, Carcina quercana.

Butterflies gorging on rotting plums - Red Admiral, Peacock, Comma and in the pic bottom left,
there are two Commas and a Red Admiral. I'm too lazy to add Latin names but you
European peeps know these butterflies well!

I'm adding a final photo but I'll keep it hidden from those who don't like spiders so you will have to click to see it. I had been doing a bit of gardening and whilst wandering around, felt something tickling my shoulder. I put my hand inside my T-shirt and felt something furry! Eeeks! I freaked thinking it might be a wasp or a bee, as I react badly to wasp stings and don't fancy being stung by anything, particularly right now; lord knows what would happen with my buggered immune system. So I hurriedly stripped off down to bra in the garden (not overlooked thank goodness!), turned my T-shirt inside out, and was hugely relieved to find it was 'only' a large Cross Orb Weaver! Phew. :-) Pic here.

After a lovely few days it looks like cooler wet weather is coming back again but at least I got out away from the house twice this week, and I'm meeting up with friends for lunch next week and desperately need to get a hair cut too (preferably before seeing friends...). So many things to do whilst I've got a bit of energy. Still not heard from the hospital as to when my last chemo will be, but quite frankly right now I don't care! 


  1. Always such an amazing journey through the beauty of your garden. I really love those Caterpillars

  2. Mandy, you album is so beautiful. What a delight. <3

  3. Fantastic photos as always. You are a very clever Lady <3 Sabine

    1. Thanks loads Sabine, I don't know about clever. I just spend a lot of time looking rather than doing. ;-) xx

  4. Oh what a lovely, bug filled post Mandy! Where to start? Well...I love those 'fat fungi' actually and am very jealous of you being able to find wasp spiders there ;-) That striped shieldbug is amazing, never seen that one of course.

    I think your bug that isn't a green shieldbug...could still be actually as I have seen them this colour underneath myself but tricky to be sure.

    We have just started to get a few dragonflies locally so it was nice to see yours and you still have damsels too. I did see just one blue damsel at Leeds Castle in the week but no more.
    I'm afraid I don't know your harvestman off the top of my head but you might start with Leiobunum spp as they seem to have black legs. Maybe L.rotundum?

    Those bug eggs? Hmm...well as was pointed out to me sometime ago when I found something similar, the little 'castleations' (sorry don't know correct term for those little spikes around the top of the eggs) mean they must be Picromerus, Rhacognathus, Troilus or Zicrona, assuming that you don't have any others that are different to us?

    Can't say I have seen any sawfly larva that still have a pale head like that but, will be sure to look out for them next year. Those vapourer cats are marvelous aren't they. I also saw one of these at Leeds Castle and it was on a reed overhanging the lake of all places.
    Anyhow, a super post as always that I really enjoyed reading through...

    1. OK sorry about the delay replying - I wanted a chance to look up some of these possible harvestmen and bugs. I think the harvestman is L. blackwalli, a female. Gosh there are a lot of different ones and although I have spent dozens of hours on spider ID, I've never looked at the Opiliones before! So thank you for that, JJ, and for your lovely comment.

      I'm going to look into those bug families. I always look at British Bugs site but haven't looked for any other bug sites as I usually find what I need there. Maybe the funky coloured bug was an instar rather than adult.... it would be helpful if the ID sites showed underneath markings as well as topside! Well I've seen your dragons and mighty fine they were too - saw some yesterday but couldn't ID them as they were just flying around. I'm thinking about getting some new waterproof wellies and having a look at what is in my pond in the way of aquatic insects and larvae, especially now I am getting Caddis flies and some small beetles? that look aquatic in the moth trap - would love to find their larvae. Thanks again JJ. :-)

    2. I've just looked up those bug species you mention and now I know what you are talking about re. the thingies on the top of the eggs. Funnily enough the best egg photos all appear on a blog called JJ's Photographic Blog, have you heard of that one? ;-)

    3. Ha! Well at least I was of SOME help then Mandy ;-) I should have looked into that harvestman for you excuse is that I thought it would be good for you to do so yourself. ;-)

      Good luck with the eggs anyhow. Oh! Pond life sounds like a great project...I have been considering doing similar at the local village pond myself ;-)

    4. No, it's good for me to look up the info, as it helps with learning! Obviously if you know something off the top of your head then that's great, but pointers are best (as I have the time to look right now). Cheers JJ. :-)

  5. Lovely post with some really gorgeous photos - I love the Vapourer moth caterpillar (what a beauty!). Still haven't seen many dragon/damselflies in our garden this year although currently getting lots of butterfly visits.

    Wonderful picture of the spider - so glad it wasn't something more threatening! And a very interesting picture of the Harvestman :) Fascinating bug although have to admit I don't know a lot about them!

    Hope you are still enjoying your moth trapping :)

    1. Hi RR and thanks for the lovely comment. I think September is a good month for dragonflies and butterflies - I'm still not seeing much in the way of small butterflies but the big showy ones are around, much more so than last year in late summer/autumn, which was disappointing. Thanks to JJ who commented above you, I've looked at some different harvestmen and there are loads of them! I knew very little about them.

      There's a funny story which follows the spider story - that's for the next post. I've loads of moths to share and still puzzling over lots of Noctuids, but at least I'm managing to ID the more attractive or different looking moths. And still enjoying it! :-)

  6. Fantastic photos Mandy. I did take a quick peek at the spider (I know what you're thinking but
    I'm just too curious for my own good and I can't see his eyes so it's not so bad) ;-) I love the catapillars.xx

    1. Bravo Deb! Glad your internet is working well enough to get this far too. I was thinking that the thought of having a spider inside one's clothes might just be a bit too much for some people, rather than the spider photo itself being shocking, but I didn't want to make it worse. :-) Thanks very much. xx

  7. Excellent photos as usual Mandy, you really do find some interesting creatures, even the spider.

    1. Thanks D-woman! As you have seen, sometimes they find me! :-)

  8. Ok. So curiosity got the better of me and I clicked on the photo!!!!! We had a Marbled Orb-Weaver here at the weekend and even I am prepared to admit it was very pretty. Gorgeous set of photos as always. Your pillar looks like a Vapourer to me too- I've seen pale colour variations before. And those baby bugs- shield bugs I guess? Hope all's well my dear xx

    1. Well done for looking, CT! I've just looked up Marbled Orb Weaver and it is pretty and I've never seen one of them before. Yes they were shield bugs - I think! They will forever remain a mystery I guess as to species.

      I'm doing fine (with a few days feeling tired in between burst of energy) and have got out a few times and meeting some friends tomorrow for lunch. So enjoying my time until the next chemo which I still don't know when it is will be! xx

  9. I do not know about France but in England the robins moult in the summer after breeding. They look very shabby and bedraggled and keep themselves to themselves until their red breasts (and flight feathers) have returned to their former glorry. Then they venture out again. I think the same is true of blackbirds which can look very shabby in August.

    1. Hi Charles and thanks for commenting and this info. I do see Blackbirds with their young during the summer and I saw one young Robin but no sign of parents nearby.