Friday, 30 May 2014

7-spot Ladybird

The Ladybird life-cycle
Like all insects, Ladybirds go through three stages of growth before becoming adult. The life-cycle is quite short and at a temperature of around 25C, the egg to adult stage can be completed within a month. Ladybird ovae (eggs) are small, with even the largest species such as Eyed Ladybird producing eggs of around 1mm length.

Ovae are yellow/orange and are laid in conspicuous groups on a variety of surfaces and usually within a good supply of aphids. A female Ladybird can lay several hundred ovae, with the female Harlequin being capable of laying up to 1000 ovae during her lifetime.

Ladybird larvae vary. Most species show differences in size, but all are marked differently. In some closely related species, these differences can be subtle and closer examination is required to determine species accurately. Most Ladybird larvae generally feed on a diet of aphids, but some species are vegetarian, eating plant material and mildews. The pupal stage is short (shorter at high average temperature) and pupae are fixed in a wide variety of sites. Certainly, 7-spot Ladybird larvae will make use of posts, plant stems and walls as a pupation site

All photos were taken in my garden and you can find out more about ladybirds HERE

Vagrant Hoverfly Eupeodes corollae

I'm not 100% certain on the ID, as it could be Eupeodes luniger. Both are common & widespread in the UK and can be found in gardens. These were taken yesterday in my Essex garden.

This Hoverfly bears a resemblance to a wasp being then protected from predators. This is in fact a harmless insect.

The abdomen shows yellow markings on a black background. The eyes are hairless.
The lateral yellow marks are close but do not join on the female. Those of tergites 3 and 4 are coma-shaped and thin. These yellow marks join near the end of the male's abdomen. They are wider and more square-shaped on tergites 3 and 4.

The Vagrant Hoverfly has a very quick lifecycle and there can be 6 to 7 generations in one year.
Each female can lay 1000 eggs and each larva can eat 800 aphids. This is why this is a very useful insect already employed to protect some plantations.

There is a possible confusion with Eupeodes luniger and with other species of the same genus. The yellow marks on tergites 3 and 4 show a small black border on the sides of the abdomen on Eupeodes luniger. This border is missing on Eupeodes corollae. Female Eupeodes luniger has a small Y-shaped black mark on the forehead.

If you are sure which species it is please do let me know, I believe it is a female Vagrant Hoverfly!

Text information can be found here

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Cooksmill Green Open Garden

Cooksmill Green is a small hamlet in the Essex countryside, four miles to the west of Chelmsford near the villages of Roxwell, Highwood and Writtle.

The gardens of 1 Chapel Close were open to the public yesterday, as was the congregational church.

Fabulous garden, great to explore, with a number of hidden areas, either around a corner, behind a hedge etc.

And a cracking Bently

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Rainham Marshes in Full Song!

Spent a few hours today walking around Rainham Marshes reserve. Bird song was everywhere, there were Blackcaps, Chiffchaff, Whitethroats, Reed & Sedge Warbler and even a Garden Warbler add all these along with Cuckoo to our resident Dunnocks, Wrens, Robins and blackbird and it felt like I was in musical heaven. I honestly sat in the cordite and listened and really didn't want to move on.

Sedge Warbler
 Came across this male Wheatear who seemed to be enjoying himself sat, well almost lying in the sun.

Reed Bunting
Along the northern boardwalk Reed Bunting and Bearded Tits showed fleetingly.

Bearded Tit

Some species were already feeding young!


Four Marsh Frogs enjoying the sun

Marsh Frogs
 And I believe this is one of a number of Rudd feeding just below the surface, please let me know if it isn't!