Nature Notes from Skye
(and occasionally other places)
Mon 6 Sep 2004
Knapweed is flowering prolifically at the moment and is greatly appreciated by bees. The two most frequent kinds are the Carder Bee, above left, and the White-tailed Bumblebee, which we've had earlier. I thought the creature on the right was a third kind of bee but it turns out to be a Hoverfly, Eristalis pertinax, which mimics a bee to deter predators. It was very numerous and, together with the two bee species, made up the majority of large visitors to flowers in the place where I was watching. The hoverfly is more wary than the bees, allowing a less close approach, and it seems to stay for a shorter time at each flower and to fly longer distances between flowers. It also often rests on a leaf in between visits to flowers.
Two more kinds of Hoverfly, the first is Syrphus vitripennis on Knapweed, the second is Helophilus pendulus on Devilsbit Scabious, which is another very popular flower with bees and hoverflies at present.
This is a female Ichneumon Fly on Angelica. The long tube at the back contains the ovipositor which is used to pierce through plant tissues to lay eggs on grubs inside.
This insect was on the same Angelica as the Ichneumon. The sides of the abdomen are yellow, but the back and belly both have broad black bands with narrow yellow bands between them. The back however is obscured by the dark-tinted wings. The insect clearly belongs to the Nematocera (which includes Craneflies and Midges), but I can't get further than that with it. [2010 note: this is Sciara hemerobioides!]
The nymph of the Birch Shield Bug, on Downy Birch, one of its main food plants. On the right, the larval leaf-mine of the moth Phyllonorycter nicellii on Hazel. There were many of these on a single bush. The upper and under surfaces of the leaf are shown. The larva spins two of the veins together on the leaf underside, to make a bulge on the upperside.
This mushroom season is approaching. This is the Brown Birch Bolete, it was close to a group of Downy Birch trees. I've moved back the vegetation to show the stipe in this picture. The Lesser Garden Spider, Meta segmentata, is the occupant of many of the webs that hang vertically across one's path at this time of year. Thanks to Beriel Mertens for this ID.
All photos and other content copyright © Carl Farmer