May 2012

Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) - Wicken Fen, Cambridgeshire

Once the weather eventually warmed up a bit, I spent most of my weekends in May down in Cambridgeshire photographing insects and flowers.

Four-spotted Chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata) - Wicken Fen, Cambridgeshire

My main targets were the early emerging dragonflies and damselflies.  Species such as Large Red Damselfly, the first of the Odonata to emerge in the spring, and Four-spotted Chaser are very common and widespread species that can be found throughout the UK.

Hairy Dragonfly (Brachytron pratense) - Woodwalton Fen, Cambridgeshire

Hairy Dragonfly and Variable Damselfly have much more disjunct distributions and in Britain they are mostly confined to southern England and Wales, although they do also occur in a few sites in Argyllshire and Dumfrieshire in Scotland. 

Variable Damselfly (Coenagrion pulchellum) - Woodwalton Fen, Cambridgeshire

The bright scarlet eyes of the Red-eyed Damselfly render the species unmistakable this early in the year.  The only other British blue damselfly with red eyes, the Small Red-eyed Damselfly, doesn't begin to emerge until late June and early July.

mating-pair of Red-eyed Damselfly (Erythroma najas) - Wicken Fen, Cambridgeshire

Woodwalton Fen was swarming with millions of mosquitoes in the cool, but sunny early morning.  Luckily, Culex pipiens is not a particularly anthropophilic species so there wasn't too many attempting to suck my blood and I escaped with only a couple of bites.

female Culex pipiens mosquito
Woodwalton Fen, Cambridgeshire

male Culex pipiens mosquito
Woodwalton Fen, Cambridgeshire

Alder Flies are common early spring insects around emergent vegetation. The 3 British species are inseperable without resort to microscopic dissection of their genetalia.

Alder Fly (Sialis sp.) - Woodwalton Fen, Cambridgeshire

Scaeva pyrasta - Woodwalton Fen, Cambridgeshire

St. Mark's Fly (Bibio marci) - Woodwalton Fen, Cambridgeshire

Green-winged Orchids (Anacamptis morio) - Upwood Meadows, Cambridgeshire

Also in Cambridgeshire was this beautiful meadow full of Green-winged Orchids. The green veins in the "wings" of the flower that give it its name are clearly visible in the photo below.

Green-winged Orchid (Anacamptis morio) - Upwood Meadows, Cambridgeshire

Green-winged Orchid (Anacamptis morio)
Upwood Meadow, Cambridgeshire

Early Marsh Orchid (Dactylorhiza incarnata)
Wicken Fen, Cambridgeshire

Moth-trapping continued to be very poor this spring.  I ran my light trap only twice this month once the night-time temperatures finally crawled above 10°C and even then I only caught a total of 14 species of macro-moth.

Green Carpet (Colostygia pectinataria) - Attenborough, Nottingham

Green Carpet and Common Swift were the most abundant macro-moths in trap with about 10 individuals of each on both of the nights I ran the trap.

male Common Swift (Hepialus lupulinus)

female Common Swift (Hepialus lupulinus)

There was a better variety of micro-moths coming to the light with about 20 species in total.

Caloptilia syringella - Attenborough, Nottingham

Caloptilia syringella is commonly found in privet hedges and it can be a garden pest as its larvae create mines within the leaves often turning large areas of the hedge brown.

Argyresthia trifasciata - Attenborough, Nottingham

The tiny Argyresthia trifasciata was the commonest moth in the trap this month.  It was first discovered in Britain in 1982 but has since spread widely and is strongly associated with gardens where its coniferous food plants, especially Leyland Cypress and junipers, are present.

April 2012 2012 Diary Index June 2012