Small Wonder

x3 images. Double click to enlarge.

Another dedicated mother looking after her eggs. This is the Cream-backed Comb-footed Spider (Neottiura bimaculata), which was a new species for me this year, discovered in the back garden.

Only a small one with a body length of around 3 mm (1/8 in). The female carries her egg-sac attached to her spinnerets.

The Unknown

I came across this green, wavering cushion which is around 25 mm (1 in) in diameter in my birdbath. The water is crystal clear, but here was this thing quite happily growing there. I don’t know what it is. It might be an alga of some kind, or it could be be something from outer space which hitched a ride on a meteorite. Just hope I don’t get any ‘pod people’ growing in the flowerbeds …

Kentish Snail

x3 images. Double click to enlarge.

The Kentish Snail (Monacha (Monacha) cantiana) is one of the commonest snails I notice on my walks along the edge of local woodland.

The shell has a lovely mottled appearance, which can vary. It is one that can be found in gardens, too, but I have not seen any here in my own.

Netted Slug

Gardeners probably won’t like this one. The Netted Slug (Deroceras (Deroceras) reticulatum) is very much hated as a pest as it eats the leaves of many various plants and crops, including seedlings.

It also goes by the names as the Field Slug or Grey Field Slug.

Pergamasus

Pergamasus sp

x3 images. Double click to enlarge.

Pergamasus sp

I just really like some names of species (or in this case the genus) so I used it as the title for this post.

Pergamasus are verocious predatory mites of soil and leaf-litter. And unfortunately not much more info is forthcoming.

Pergamasus sp.

Here are three individuals I discovered .. yep, under that plant pot.

One of The Smallest

x2 images. Double click to enlarge.

This is one of the smallest mites I have come across. I discovered it by simply lifting up a small plant pot. And once disturbed they never stay still for a second, so you have to try and focus and snap them on the move. In fact, I can only see them when they move.

I have manged to get them down to genus which Eupodes. They are one of the trombid mites (Order Trombidiformes), and are so small they are usually measured in µm (micrometres). Even with the Raynox conversion lens I have had to crop these images. They are around 0.2-0.5 mm in length. Quite distinctive mites with pinkish legs and antennae, and pinkish longitudinal dorsal stripes which varies in width. Seen all year round in soil, leaf litter and amongst mosses – or even sheltering under plant pots.

Say “Hi!” To Pudibunda

x5 images. Double click to enlarge.

About a month ago my neighbour calls round (he hit 80 this year and is as fit as a fiddle), and in the palm of his hand he had this little critter. He wondered what it was (he really has an interest in wildlife), and he thought it had fell from a bush he had cut back. I identified it as the larva for the moth the Pale Tussock (Calliteara pudibunda).

Later he came around again with another he had found on his apple tree. They feed on a large variety of deciduous trees and shrubs, and I was quite amazed to discover, like paint, they come in a variety colours, from yellow, green, to orange, pink and red. Don’t think they do any shades of blue though.

Below is the familar adult, which I have featured before, which is also quite an odd yet interesting character. Who would have thought that, that would turn into that, eh?

In case you was wondering, the caterpillars where put back safe and sound to continue their feedathon.

Over 250 Moths Over 16 Years

x16 photos. Double click to enlarge

Hummingbird Hawkmoth Macroglossum stellatarum
Hummingbird Hawk-moth (Macroglossum stellatarum) – taken August 2005

It was when I purchased my first digital camera back in 2005, a Sony Cybershot compact camera, that my love for nature and the side of the natural world, that is not always often seen but is always there to be found, became rekindled. My interest in moths – ‘moth mania’ I call it – began from a young age when I used to stay up a little at night with my older brother Steve, looking out for these nocturnal insects. In those days I used to paint and draw them, especially those with vivid patterns and colours like the Garden Tiger, which has sadly declined over the years since, and I have not yet seen one here to photograph.

Red Underwing (Catocala nupta) – taken August 2006
Scorched Wing Plagodis dolabraria
Scorched Wing Plagodis dolabraria – taken June 2007

So since 2005, I have photographed over 250 (and still counting with lots of past images still to go through and positively identify) species of moth and have uploaded them to this site. 250 is small fraction of the 2,500 or more species of moth to be found throughout Britain. Not all are attracted to light. Some are attracted to feromones or sugar. Some are day-fying moths, and some are rare and localised to different areas of the country.

The Vapourer (Orgyia antiqua) – taken September 2008
Common Marbled Carpet (Dysstroma truncata) – taken May 2009

Oddly enough, in the year 2010 I apparently did not take one single moth photo, but a year later moth mania hit me again and I photographed over 150 different species of moth!

Yellow-tail Euproctis similis
Yellow-tail (Euproctis similis) – taken July 2011
Shaded Broad-bar (Scotopteryx chenopodiata) – taken October 2012
Scarce Silver-lines Bena bicolorana
Scarce Silver-lines (Bena bicolorana) – taken July 2013

After buying different compact cameras over the years, it was in 2014 I purchased my first DSLR camera the Nikon D3200.

Hebrew Character Orthosia gothica
Hebrew Character (Orthosia gothica) – taken March 2014
Common Yellow Conch Agapeta hamana
Common Yellow Conch (Agapeta hamana) – taken July 2015
Riband Wave (Idaea aversata f. remutata)
Riband Wave (Idaea aversata) – taken July 2016

2016 was the year I upgraded my camera to the Nikon D7200 (which I still use to this day) , and in 2017 it was another year the moth mania got to me. It was a very bountiful year for moths.

Garden Rose Tortrix Acleris variegana
Garden Rose Tortrix (Acleris variegana) – taken September 2017

The thing with moths is that they can be seen all year round, even during the winter months where most other insects are hibernating.

Sycamore Piercer Pammene aurita
Sycamore Piercer (Pammene aurita) – taken June 2018
Elephant Hawkmoth Deilephila elpenor
Elephant Hawk-moth (Deilephila elpenor) -taken July 2019
Azalea Leaf Miner Caloptilia azaleella
Azalea Leaf Miner (Caloptilia azaleella) – taken May 2020
Common White Wave (Cabera pusaria) – taken July 2021

Spotlight on The Grey Dagger Acronicta psi

There are two very similar ‘dagger’ species in Britain, the Grey Dagger (Acronicta psi) and the Dark Dagger (Acronicta tridens). The adults cannot be accurately identified visually without genital dissection and microscopic scrutiny – but I don’t like to harm them so this adult would be recorded as an aggregate species Acronicta psi/tridens. The adult is readily attracted to light, and is seen in June and August in most habitats, including woodland, hedgerows and gardens. Sadly its numbers have significantly decreased in recent decades.

The caterpillar is quite an odd thing, and on first discovery I thought it had been parasitised! But the long and prounced ‘hump’ or fleshy projection is one of its defining characteristics and which visually separtes it from the Dark Dagger (Acronicta tridens) which has a shorter ‘hump’. A visually striking moth larva with long hairs and a yellow or white dorsal strip. The orange side patches offer quite a contrast in colouration. It feeds on a large range of broad-leaved trees and shrubs, and overwinters as a pupa amongst bark, in rotten wood or in the ground.

999 Species


I have now recorded 999 species on this website, from plants to animals, fungi and even a cyanobacterium. I have stopped short of making this post ‘1000’ as the 999th species convinced me to use it as a marker milestone. Not surprising it happens to be an invertebrate, an arthropod, and an insect at that.


Attactagenus plumbeus is a member of the Curculionidae family which make up the weevils. What is so special about this species apart from its own uniqueness is is scarcity. Data gleamed from the NBN Atlas shows only 96 records between 1990 and 2020, and 151 records in total from 1890. The British nature conservation status is Nationally Notable B (species found in between 31 and 100 hectads – 10 km x 10 km square), making it nationally scarce. There are only 4 records for 2020, and 1 of these is mine. Native to Britain, not surprisingly it is very localised with a few scattered records across England and Wales, except the south-east of England, and is absent from Scotland and Ireland. It feeds on plants from the Fabaceae family, including species of vetch and broom, and is found in fields and meadows where the host plants can be found.


Attactagenus plumbeus
Attactagenus plumbeus is quite an attractive beetle. The length is between 5-9 mm (around 5/16 in).

Attactagenus plumbeus
Discovered in a local field back in May 2020.

Not A Bottle Cleaner


Orchesella villosa – Please do not mistake this for a bottle or pipe cleaner. It is a springtail, and boy do they spring when you uspet their day. At least this species has a nice short name. Amazing what you can find by just lifting a small plant pot. For more info on Springtails you can travel there via the link below. Please double-click both images to enlarge.


Collembola: The Springtails


Orchesella villosa

Orchesella villosa

© Peter Hillman ♦ 7th April 2020 ♦ Rear garden, Staffordshire ♦ Nikon D7200


Growing Up


White-lipped Snail (Cepaea hortensis) juvenile – A new generation of snails are appearing in the garden, ready to munch their way through it. This little one has such a delicate and elegant looking shell. Double-click to enlarge image.

White-lipped Snail Cepaea hortensis juvenile

© Peter Hillman ♦ 12th April 2020 ♦ Rear garden, Staffordshire ♦ Nikon D7200


Beautiful Blue


This is a Panola … a cross between a pansy and a viola. I planted them last autumn in some pots to give the garden a little winter colour, and they are still going beautifully.

I like to challenge myself in photography, and I try to aim to refrain from cropping where possible, but I know that is not always possible to do, but I managed it here. My aim was not only to capture the heart of the flower and the detail not always seen there in normal naked eye viewing, but also the vivid colours. I refrained from using flash, and captured the image outside of harsh sunlight. In post-processing I altered the white balance slighlty to get close on the original colouring as I had under exposed fractionally. I also reduced any noise, and sharpened using the high pass filter rather than smart sharpen, as I wanted it to be subtle. Double-click image to enlarge.

Panola

© Peter Hillman ♦ 12th April 2020 ♦ Local wood, Staffordshire ♦ Nikon D7200


Cuckooflower


Cardamine pratensis – Also called Lady’s-smock. When I first eyed this lovely flower on my allowed ‘once a day’ excercise walk, it took my breath clean away, I was so bedazzled by its beauty. This is a sure sign that spring has arrived. x2 photographs. Double click images to enlarge.


Cuckooflower Cardamine pratensis

Cuckooflower Cardamine pratensis

© Peter Hillman ♦ 10th April 2020 ♦ Local field, Staffordshire ♦ Nikon D7200


Hairy Snail ?


I found this juevenile snail today. It is teeny-weeny small. But the startling thing I discovered about it when I got the photos on the PC was that the shell had fine hairs on it. Apparently this helps it stick to the leaves when feeding. Double-click image for a closer look.


Juvenille Snail

© Peter Hillman ♦ 3rd April 2020 ♦ Rear garden, Staffordshire ♦ Nikon D7200


A Rare Male


Goldenrod Spider (Misumena vatia) – I see the female plenty of times around the garden, but hardly ever the male. This one must have been real hungry perched on the edge of a petal trying to grab passing flies.


Goldenrod Spider Misumena vatia male

Goldenrod Spider Misumena vatia male

© Peter Hillman ♦ 20th May 2018 ♦ Rear garden, Staffordshire ♦ Nikon D7200


Puppy Dog Eyes


Pseudeuophrys lanigera – Me and Mike Powell (you should really go and check out his fabulous blog ‘My Journey Through Photography’ right now!) We know some folk get a little creeped out by these things … but who could fail to be moved by the cute little puppy dog eyes on this very small jumping spider? Double-click images if you really want to.


Pseudeuophrys lanigera

Pseudeuophrys lanigera

© Peter Hillman ♦ 18th May 2018 ♦ Living room ceiling, Staffordshire ♦ Nikon D7200


What The Bees Leave Behind


Daisy (Bellis perennis) – You can’t help but notice these pretty little daisies springing up all over now, little oasises for the spring insects for them to feed from. The way the pollen has been scattered around the centre of this one, I would say somebody has already been here.


Daisy Bellis perennis

© Peter Hillman ♦ 26th March 2020 ♦ Front grass verge, Staffordshire ♦ Nikon D7200


The Odd


Orchesella cincta – This is another one of those tiny springtails I go on about in the odd post. I can’t help it, but I find them fascinating. This one has a nice yellow band around its third abdominal segment, and, quite unfortunately, one missing antenna. It’s amazing to think you have a whole little community living right under a plant pot and most of us don’t even know it. I don’t think this one quite realised the pot had gone. Double-click image to close in on it …


Orchesella cincta

© Peter Hillman ♦ 1st July 2017 ♦ Back garden, Staffordshire ♦ Nikon D7200


Garden Spider


Araneus diadematus – This was a relatively small Garden Spider which was hanging around on a fence panel at the bottom of the garden. I am always taken by the intricacy of their webs, but it looks like this one has had one or two problems. Double-click image for a closer look.


Garden Spider Araneus diadematus

© Peter Hillman ♦ 21st June 2019 ♦ Back garden, Staffordshire ♦ Nikon D7200


Lesser Celandine


Ficaria verna – I am very fortunate that where I live I only have to walk five minutes and I am into woodland. So with the bright weather I have been managing to venture out for a few minutes. The sight of all these wonderful sunshine coloured flowers carpeting the woodland floor is such a joy to see and a lift to the heart. It has to be my favourite spring flower. I quite like the way the sun casts the bloom’s shadow to the right. Double-click image for a closer look.


Lesser celandine Ficaria verna

© Peter Hillman ♦ 26th March 2020 ♦ Local woodland path, Staffordshire ♦ Nikon D7200


The Best Bed For A Bug In Town


Green Shieldbug (Palomena prasina) – Looking through my living window yesterday evening I noticed this bug had got the most comfortable and fashionble bed for the night, cosily nestled right in the centre of one of my Camellia blossoms. Now that’s what I call sleeping in style. Double-click image to get closer, but please be quite so as not to wake him.


Green Shieldbug Palomena prasina

© Peter Hillman ♦ 24th March 2020 ♦ Front garden, Staffordshire ♦ Nikon D7200


Spring Has Sprung


7-spot Ladybird (Coccinella septempunctata) – I have seen quite a few of these around the garden, and no doubt the sunshine and elevated temperatures have enticed them out of hibernation. Good news for the garden. This one was in the hollow of a curved leaf. Double-click image to enlarge.


7-spot Ladybird Coccinella septempunctata

© Peter Hillman ♦ 24th March 2020 ♦ Back garden, Staffordshire ♦ Nikon D7200


Deuterosminthurus pallipes forma repandus


Warning: serious tongue twister here. Despite the very long name, it is a very small springtail which owns it. In this microcosmos even the fine leaf hairs can be an obstacle for it to negotiate. Less than 1mm long (3/64in) long, barely seen by the naked eye, but so very cute … in my eyes, anyway. It goes without saying – double-click image for a closer look.


Deuterosminthurus pallipes forma repandus

© Peter Hillman ♦ 11th March 2020 ♦ Back garden, Staffordshire ♦ Nikon D7200


Brindled Pug


Eupithecia abbreviata – This attractive moth must have been bedazzled by my garage light and I found it on the door the next morning. Like most pugs they are only small with a wingspan of around 22mm (7/8in). It is an early spring species, and usually inhabits deciduous woodland where the caterpillars feed on oak and hawthorn. Double-click to enlarge images.


Brindled Pug Eupithecia abbreviata

Brindled Pug Eupithecia abbreviata

© Peter Hillman ♦ 11th March 2020 ♦ Back garden, Staffordshire ♦ Nikon D7200


Green Shieldbug


Palomena prasina – As soon as the sun appears these shieldbugs crawl out of their hidey-holes and bask in its warming rays. This one is still sporting its autumn camouflage suit, although I have noticed others are gradually changing back to green to blend in with the new spring growth. Double-click on image to enlarge.


Green Shieldbug Palomena prasina

© Peter Hillman ♦ 16th March 2020 ♦ Back garden, Staffordshire ♦ Nikon D7200


Common Malachite Beetle


Malachius bipustulatus – I occasionally spot these on my local summer walks. They are only a small beetle at around 5-8mm (3/16-5/16in) long, but the bright red spots give them away. Kind of reminds me of that final scene in Jurassic Park. Double-click to enter the staring contest.


Common Malachite Beetle Malachius bipustulatus

Common Malachite Beetle Malachius bipustulatus

Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 7th July 2019
Place: Local field, Staffordshire


Heart & Dart


Agrotis exclamationis – You can clearly see why they call this moth the Heart & Dart. Double-click for a closer look-see.



Heart & Dart Agrotis exclamationis

Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 29th June 2019
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


Common Yellow-face Bee


Hylaeus communis – This is a small plasterer bee between 6-8mm (1/4-5/16in) long. The male, as shown here, has a very bright array of yellow facial markings. It is a common visitor to gardens, although this was the first time I had seen it here. Double-click for a closer look.


Common Yellow-face Bee Hylaeus communis male

Common Yellow-face Bee Hylaeus communis male

Common Yellow-face Bee Hylaeus communis male

Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 16th June 2019
Place: Rear garden, Staffordshire


Huddled Together


Green Shieldbug (Palomena prasina) – Although these three are hardly green, for they have not long come out of hibernation and are still sporting their autumnal colours. I took these after venturing into the back garden today. The sun was bright and cheerful and very inviting, but it was very windy and cold, so I had to wrap up. I was only out there for around ten minutes before I was forced back indoors to rest. It is such a frustration when the mind is willing but the body just can’t. At least I managed to get a few shots off, and here is one of them … oh yes … the green bugs which aren’t green … but they will soon be with the advent of spring.


Green Shieldbug Palomena prasina

Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 12th March 2020
Place: Rear garden, Staffordshire


Satin Grass-veneer


Crambus perlella – Out in the fresh summer fields I often disturb these moths and others of their kind from the grasses and low vegetation as I pass through. They don’t usually fly far and soon settle back into the growth. You do have to watch very carefully where they land as you can easily lose them.


Satin Grass-veneer Crambus perlella

Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 7th July 2019
Place: Local field, Staffordshire


Codling Moth


Cydia pomonella – Although the caterpillar of this small moth can be quite a pest to fruit trees, the adult has quite some fine detail over all, and a lovely coppery finish to the bottom end of the forewings. Double-click for a closer look.


Codling Moth Cydia pomonella

Codling Moth Cydia pomonella

Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 29th June 2019
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


Not One For The Squeamish


Wolf Spider (Pardosa sp) female with spiderlings. They always like to warm themselves on my decking. Now you know want I’m going say next, don’t you? It’s about double-clicking … if you wanna get closer … but you don’t have to … maybe this is close enough?


Wolf Spider Pardosa sp female with spiderlings

Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 16th June 2019
Place: Rear garden, Staffordshire


Malthinus flaveolus


This is one small and pretty beetle at 4.5-5.5mm (1/8-1/4in) long and is difficult to find in the field. This one was attracted to my moth trap. Double-click for a closer look.


Malthinus flaveolus

Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 29th June 2019
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


Willow Ermine


Yponomeuta rorrella – These small moths can be a fair challenge to photograph because of their pale and reflective scales, so best done out of direct sunlight with the exposure turned down a couple of clicks.


Willow Ermine Yponomeuta rorrella

Willow Ermine Yponomeuta rorrella

Willow Ermine Yponomeuta rorrella

Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 18th July 2019
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire