Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Spring Invertebrates

Spring is well and truly here, even if at the time of writing the wind is howling from the north and bringing with it hail storms and biting temperatures! A lovely period of settled conditions last week saw a plethora of sub-tropical migrants arriving on the island, from Redstarts and Ring Ouzels through to Grasshopper Warblers and Tree Pipits. We have been busy ringing a lot of the migrants on the island recently, particularly Willow Warblers, Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps. It has been great to catch several birds with foreign rings on too - a Chiffchaff with a French ring, a Blackcap with a Portugese ring, and many more birds with have been ringed elsewhere in the UK.

Anyway, one of the fantastic things about the spring conditions we experienced last week is the multitude of insect life that has been emerging. Bumblebees have been busy collecting pollen from pussy willows and celandines; Green Tiger Beetles have emerged in their splendid iridescence of green, pattering along the banks in search of unwary Ants; moths like Common Quakers and Hebrew Characters have been populating the moth traps; Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock butterflies have been fluttering about the island too. It's all kicking off!

Here are a handful of images of some recent insects...

Green Tiger Beetles, Cincidella campestris, have to be one of my favourite British bugs - they're just stunning! I was lucky to come across a number of rather sluggish individuals a couple of weeks ago, which allowed for some great photo opportunities. Usually the adults are incredibly hard to capture, skittering along on their legs at a fair speed!

It was great to see this Zebra Jumping Spider, Salticus scenicus, perched atop a gate one afternoon. Although a common species on the mainland, I haven't seen any on the island before - according to the Spider Recording Scheme the last record on Bardsey was in 1987!

I came across these amazing eggs on a gorse flower a few days ago - it turned out that they belong to the classic 'stinkbug' Piezodorus lituratus, also known as the Gorse Shieldbug

An adult Gorse Shieldbug

The moth traps haven't been incredibly busy of late, but there have been some smart visitors among the Common Quakers, Hebrew Characters and Early Thorns

This Water Carpet was another smart visitor to the trap, and only the second ever recorded on the island

Apologies for the arachniphobes out there - an Amaurobius sp. 

These parasitic wasps have made frequent appearances in the moth trap - this is an Ichenumon wasp probably of the species Ophion scutellaris

Although the pussy willows are looking stripped of their pollen now, last week they were bright yellow with the stuff. Buff-tailed Bumblebees, White-tailed Bumblebees (above) and Common Carders have been buzzing about the island, with the queens busy starting up their colonies for the season

A Black Ant investigating what all the fuss is about with pollen, on a Lesser Celandine

It was fun to find this stunning little Weevil a few days ago, although I am not too sure what species it is!

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