Posts Tagged ‘Tansy flask gall’

Autumnal ramblings and spiders

September 11, 2013

Monday saw me out on Crowle Moors again, where despite the weather which was sunny and pleasant there was a noticeable change in the temperature and humidity.  This change certainly registered an autumnal feel to the visit.   A number of butterfly species were taking advantage of late flowering plants to nectar and the blackberries too were visited for their sugary juices.  Nettle-tap moths Anthophila fabriciana too were quite numerous with around 50 present on the last flowering heads of Tansy plants on the northern reserve.  A ubiquitous species whose larval food plant is the equally ubiquitous nettle Urtica dioica. 

130909 A marmoreus CM hrk 648

 

It was certainly an arachnid day, with thousands of silken strands strewn across the vegetation. The taller bracken supporting sheet webs with lines up from the lower vegetation.  What was particularly interesting was the number of female Araneus marmoreus var. pyramidatus (below) at various intervals around the Yorkshire Triangle.  There was also a beautifully coloured Araneus marmoreus  (above), the metallic ‘golden’ markings on the rich metallic green abdomen.  Other species such as A. quadratus and A. diadematus making the usual quartet of ‘big obvious’ jobs hoping to trap unwary insects in their webs.  Harvey et. al. (1999) in the Provisional Atlas of British Spiders describe it as uncommon (see also species summary on the BAS website), but the Humberhead Peatlands particularly the Thorne Moors complex hosts both colour variants.  For a more in depth discussion see Kirk & Howes (2011) in Volume 8 of the Thorne & Hatfield Moors Papers.

130909 A. m. pyramidatus hrk 638

 

Readers may recall I reported the Tansy Flask Gall   in early August.  It is now about a month later and the same plants showed more infestations, this time as the image below illustrates they are on the stem and not in the flower heads.  This plant has at least four areas affected with a number of growths in each.

 

130909 galled tansy CM hrk 659

 

Other galls still evident are the common picture-wing fly induced growth on creeping thistle Urophora cardui below.  The gall causing species is quite a distinctive fly, see here for some good images.

    130812 Urophora cardui CM hrk 544

So, what interesting observations have you made on the peatlands, do let us know. 

Click on the images to enlarge them to see more detail of the species illustrated.

Galling

August 11, 2013

Last Monday was a rather changeable day in terms of weather.  Undeterred I arrived at Crowle Moors and parked up but then decidied that it might be wise to wear a waterproof jacket at least – by the end of the session I debated the wisdom of the action.  Despite the drizzle, butterflies appeared in moderate numbers particularly Gatekeepers or Hedge Browns if you prefer, but just to avoid any doubt Pyronia tithonus.

With the cooler weather there were not as many dragon and damsels active and the bees too were slow to appear.  There was no sign of activity at the entrance of the colony beneath heather roots alongside one of the tracks.

An interesting find were a few poor rain sodden Tansy plants, I’d noticed these in bud a week earlier and nothing unusual in that but as can be seen in the image below there are three growths protruding from the flower heads.  They are caused by the gall midge Rhopalomyia taneceticola (Dipter: Cecidomyiidae).

130805 Rhopalomyia tanaceticola CM hrk 522

As you marvel at the many intriguing and often complex relationships which all contribute to the interactions which deliver functioning ecosystems, you do wonder what of the future?  I sense that there may be a groundswell of discontent in terms of the deal that is not done in terms of the natural environment, the ongoing failure of those in Government to safeguard a healthy natural environment for our grandchildren.  The apathy at the top trickles or perhaps it floods down through the ranks of the statutory agencies and authorities charged with protecting habitats and species.

We’ve all heard of the outcome of the State of Nature, Mark Avery often blogs controvertial topics, which provoke interesting feedback.  The ongoing saga of Wuthering Moors is well worth keeping up with.  Catfield Fen another site under threat is reported on.   The Guardian newspaper published another of their offerings yesterday, Britain’s changing countryside: where next for the conservation movementSome as expected comments, but if nothing else it proves that people were sufficiently motivated to respond after reading it but whether they went that extra mile thereafter remains to be seen?

It would take a brave government to deliver on a quality natural environment which is safguarded for the future as the most important aspect of our [man’s] existence, rather than simply treating everything natural as a ‘resource’, which in the words of Iolo Williams is there to be used and abused.  Should the state take the lead and enforce regulatory safeguards?  Is it my recent reading material but there does appear to be a number of recent articles asking where the next generation of naturalists are but equally as important where are the next generation of environmental champions able to deliver tangible sustainability?

IMc Nr IM Thorne

I’m going for a walk to count the butterflies in my garden and hopefully the kingfisher will signal its presence too as it dashes along the drain ….


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Mark Avery

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I write about politics, nature + the environment. Some posts are serious, some not. These are my views, I don't do any promotional stuff and these views are not being expressed for anyone who employs me.

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