This little orange firecracker is a Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary Boloria selene, a male I believe, photographed on the 9th June at Bentley Wood. This was one of the first butterflies I photographed last May when I got my macro lens and I can’t tell you how much I was looking forward to viewing the results. Particularly as this was a new species for me. What a disappointment then to discover the vast majority were either blurred or just slightly out of focus. To be fair I did manage to get a few decent shots, one of which was shortlisted for the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust’s 50th anniversary photographic competition, but believe me that was more down to luck than judgement. Read more
My recent trip to Cyprus was a little disappointing. Although I did get to see many hundreds of butterflies they proved remarkably difficult to photograph. For starters it was way hotter than expected, peaking at around 37 degrees. It was clear I’d misjudged the timing by 2 weeks to a month – the majority of the wildflowers were burnt to a crisp.
During my recent trip to Cyprus to photograph insects and butterflies I saw a lot of lizards. It was a bit of a herpetologist’s dream. In England we only have two lizards, the Viviparous and the Sand Lizard. In Cyprus there are eleven. The largest of which is the Starred Agama Laudakia stellio, also known as the Sling-tailed Agama, Star or Spiny Lizard. The Agamids, a very ancient order of reptiles are represented by only one species in Europe although there are over 300 world wide. However, there are many recognised subspecies throughout the mediterranean, particularly on the islands. Ladakia stellio cypriaca is endemic to Cyprus. Read more
I really look forward to seeing these handsome little chaps each year. The Red mason bee Osmia bicornis is a species of solitary bee often seen in spring and early summer, usually from late March to early June, although this year due to the very cold weather they’ve been a little late. The males appear first, up to two weeks before the females and so like the male pictured above they spend a fair bit of time preening and sunbathing before the girls arrive.
These are extremely friendly bees. The male has no sting and the female will only sting if handled very roughly and even then the sting is very mild in comparison to the sting of a wasp, bumblebee or honey-bee. So these are good bees for children to get up close to and observe. Read more
I took this photo of the Hoverfly Helophilus pendulus last September. Hoverflies seem to enjoy the sunshine and can often be found sunbathing. I believe this is the female. This species which is often found in gardens can be identified by its yellow face and black stripe between the eyes and the distinctive longitudinal stripes on its thorax. Read more
I came across this acrobatic beetle whilst walking along the banks of the river Rede in Northumbria in June 2008 whilst looking for Dippers. It’s a type of Longhorn flower beetle Judolia cerambyciformis found mainly in hilly and mountainous areas – this specimen was photographed on the edge of Keilder Forest. The larvae feed on the roots or the rotting wood of deciduous and coniferous trees before pupating below ground. The adults are between 7-12mm in length and are usually encountered on flowers from May to August. It’s a nationally scarce species so it was an unexpected bonus to find it. The species gets the name longhorn or long-horned from its very long antenna which are often longer than the body.
I came across this rather attractive black and white moth whilst walking in Keilder Forest in Northumbria. It’s a Clouded Border Lomaspilas marginata. Although it’s a night-flyer it can often be found resting on undergrowth during the day. Most often in woodland and with a preference for damper localities. Read more
One of the more unusual day flying moths I’ve encountered on Morgans Hill is the Mother Shipton Callistege mi which has a very distinctive cream-edged dark brown central blotch on each forewing which is said to resemble the face of an old hag or witch. Look and you’ll see a beady eye, long hooked nose, downturned mouth and knobbly chin. Read more
When I saw my first Small Blue Cupido minimus I was surprised at just how tiny it is. The wingspan of our smallest butterfly can be as little as 16mm, so it’s well named. It’s rare though, being no more than locally common even in its strongholds of Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Dorset and the Isle of Wight. Here in Wiltshire up on Morgan’s Hill I’ve only come across it in one sheltered spot and even there it’s largely confined to the base of one steep bank. Read more
I took this photo of this tiny little wasp in my garden back in early July but afterwards really struggled to identify it. My well-thumbed Guide to the Insects of Britain and Europe failed me. I didn’t even get to a genus, although I was pretty sure it was some kind of Digger Wasp. I had a look on the BWARS site, the website of the Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society http://www.bwars.com but blanked again. Read more