Monday, May 16, 2011

Cycles of Abundance

As spring drifts into summer new insects appear on the scene, briefly flourish and then give way to another species. Recently we've had a virtual plague of St. Mark's flies, whose mating flights are beautifully described by Mark Cocker in today's Guardian Country Diary. This week, in my area at least, it's time for a mass emergence of this...























.....little metallic green weevil that seems to be on every stinging nettle leaf. It's Phyllobius pomaceus (identified with the help of B.N. Davis's excellent Insects of Nettles (Richmond Publishing Co. 1991)). This little weevil breeds on nettles, feeding on the leaves and at the moment every nettle bed has scores of them mating amongst the forest of stinging hairs on the host plant's leaves. They have a short season as adults and will have vanished again by early June, when their larvae feed underground.




































This one has strayed onto a hawthorn leaf, overhanging the nettle bed.

6 comments:

  1. Another good reason for growing some nettles in the garden, then - didn't know they were popular with coleoptera.

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  2. There is a distinct lack of nettles in this area.

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  3. That first photo is fantastic! A look into a world so green, so sparkly - I love it.

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  4. Hi Rob., as far as nettles in gardens go, they're more likely to attract beetles than breding butterflies. Ken Thompson at Sheffield University (who has written an excellent book on wildlife gardening called No Nettles Required) has found that butterflies like small tortoiseshells and peacocks rarely breed on nettles in gardens - they prefer large, rank patches of nettles in the wider countryside.

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  5. Hi Toffeeapple, I've got a few in my garden, which I sometimes discover (painfully) when I'm weeding

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  6. Hi Wilma, at this magnification you begin to notice what a forest of hairs small insects have to negotiate

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