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 …

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.

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.

Wainscot Smudge


Ypsolopha scabrella – Quite an extraordinary looking little moth with distinctive raised tufts which can be seen when the moth is at rest.


Wainscot Smudge Ypsolopha scabrella


Wainscot Smudge Ypsolopha scabrella


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 20th July 2017
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


 

White Campion


Silene latifolia – This is one of my favourite wild flowers, and it is always a pleasure to see on my walks. According to fossil records it was introduced to Britain during the Bronze Age. It flowers between May and October across much of Britain, except the far north and west.


White Campion Silene latifolia


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


 

Garden Rose Tortrix


Acleris variegana – An extremely variable micro-moth species in patterning and colouration. A melanic form also occurs. Like other similar species of Tortrix, it mimics bird-droppings to evade predation. The larvae feed on the leaves of a variety of trees and shrubs, including roses, brambles, hawthorns, cherries and apples.


Garden Rose Tortrix Acleris variegana


Garden Rose Tortrix Acleris variegana


Garden Rose Tortrix Acleris variegana


Garden Rose Tortrix Acleris variegana


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 23rd, 24th & 30th September 2017
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


 

Old Lady


Mormo maura – You know when this one pays a visit because it is fairly large with a wingspan of up to 65mm (2 1/2in). Not one of the brightest of moths, but it has an interesting, fine-lined pattern.


Old Lady Mormo maura


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 26th August 2017
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


 

Ash-bark Knot-horn


Euzophera pinguis – Quite an unmistakable micro-moth with distinctive zig-zag markings. The larvae feed under the living bark of ash, which if becoming infested may kill the tree. This is a localised species in England.


Ash-bark Knot-horn Euzophera pinguis


Ash-bark Knot-horn Euzophera pinguis


Ash-bark Knot-horn Euzophera pinguis


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 20th July 2017
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


 

Common Plume


Emmelina monodactyla – An odd-looking moth which often rests with its wings rolled tightly up. It is quite a weak flier, and will only travel a short distance before settling down again.


Common Plume Emmelina monodactyla


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 8th July 2017
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


 

Iron Prominent


Notodonta dromedarius – A moth which looks like it is suffering from oxidation with its distinct red rusty markings. One of the easier of the night lepidoptera to photograph. They are fairly calm and will remain still for a long time.


Iron Prominent Notodonta dromedarius


Iron Prominent Notodonta dromedarius


Iron Prominent Notodonta dromedarius


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 20th July 2017
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


 

The Drinker


Euthrix potatoria – An unusual moth. This is the female of the species. The name comes from the habit of the caterpillar which apparently has a preference for drinking drops of dew.


The Drinker Euthrix potatoria


The Drinker Euthrix potatoria


The Drinker Euthrix potatoria


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38
Date taken: 26th June 2011
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


 

Maiden’s Blush


Cyclophora punctaria – A finely detailed and beautifully coloured moth from the family Geometridae.


Maiden's Blush Cyclophora punctaria


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 20th July 2017
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


 

Lunar Underwing


Omphaloscelis lunosa – There is a dark ‘crescent moon’ marking on the pale underwing of this moth which gives it its name.


Lunar Underwing Omphaloscelis lunosa


Lunar Underwing Omphaloscelis lunosa


Lunar Underwing Omphaloscelis lunosa


Lunar Underwing Omphaloscelis lunosa


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 23rd, 24th & 30th September 2017
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


 

Barred Sallow


Tiliacea aurago – Although this is somewhat faded, it is quite an attractive moth with autumnal colours and a very diagnostic yellow or yellow-orange central band.


Barred Sallow Tiliacea aurago


Barred Sallow Tiliacea aurago


Barred Sallow Tiliacea aurago


Barred Sallow Tiliacea aurago


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 15th October 2017
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


 

Heather Knot-horn


Pempelia palumbella – This is another rarity for my county, and only a few have been noted by the Staffordshire Ecological Record, most of these before 1995, the first in 1877. I really like the colours and patterns on this moth. It kind of reminds me of Inca art and design.


Heather Knot-horn Pempelia palumbella


Heather Knot-horn Pempelia palumbella


Heather Knot-horn Pempelia palumbella


Heather Knot-horn Pempelia palumbella


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 8th July 2017
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


 

Small Emerald


Hemistola chrysoprasaria – This is rarely seen in my county, and there has only been but a handful of ecologically recorded sightings since the first one in 1967, this one being one of them. A beautiful green moth with distinctive pale crosslines.


Small Emerald Hemistola chrysoprasaria


Small Emerald Hemistola chrysoprasaria


Small Emerald Hemistola chrysoprasaria


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 8th July 2017
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


 

Honeysuckle Moth


Ypsolopha dentella – If you grow honeysuckle in your garden the chances are you may have some of these. This is a chestnut-brown and cream to whitish patterned micro-moth with distinctive upturned wingtips. It has a forewing length of around 11mm ( almost half an inch).


Honeysuckle Moth Ypsolopha dentella


Honeysuckle Moth Ypsolopha dentella


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 20th July 2017
Place: Rear garden, Staffordshire


 

Horse Chestnut Leaf-miner


Cameraria ohridella – One can easily overlook this tiny micro-moth as it is only has a forewing length of up to 5mm (1/4in) long. The forewings have an attractive ginger ground colour with distinctive white cross-bands and dark-brown cross-lines. It was first recorded in the south of Britain in 2002 and has rapidly spread north and west across England and Wales where it is common.


Horse Chestnut Leaf-miner Cameraria ohridella


Horse Chestnut Leaf-miner Cameraria ohridella


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 20th July 2017
Place: Rear garden, Staffordshire


 

Long-horned Flat-body


Carcina quercana – This is a fairly colourful moth with very long antennae. Is also called the Oak Long-horn. It has recently been introduced to North America where it is called the Oak-skeletonizer Moth.


Carcina quercana


Carcina quercana


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 8th July 2017
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


Want to learn more about this moth? Please visit the species main page.


Hummingbird Hawk-moth


Macroglossum stellatarum – I feel quite privileged to have been able to take these photographs of this splendid hawk-moth. I took them quite a few years ago with my first digital camera purchase back in the summer of 2005, and haven’t been able to capture one in flight and feeding since back then. A spectacular brightly coloured diurnal moth which can be seen sipping nectar in full sunlight with its extraordinary long proboscis. It looks and sounds like a hummingbird as it feeds from tubular flowers such as Red Valerian, Buddleia, Lilac, and the like.


Hummingbird Hawkmoth Macroglossum stellatarum


Hummingbird Hawkmoth Macroglossum stellatarum


Hummingbird Hawkmoth Macroglossum stellatarum


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Sony Cybershot DSC-W1
Date taken: 21st August 2005
Place: Rear garden, Staffordshire


 

Mint Moth


Pyrausta aurata – Also called the Small Purple & Gold, this moth has always been a regular visitor to my garden, yet I have always grown mint, so that is not really very surprising.


Pyrausta aurata


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 20th July 2017
Place: Rear garden, Staffordshire


 

Elephant Hawk-moth


Deilephila elpenor – This hawk-moth always reminds me of a fond time during my boyhood when my brother and I discovered the caterpillar for this moth, and subsequently watched it pupate and turn into this magnificent adult. Hawk-moths can be quite docile creatures in the daytime, and they will let you handle them readily, and tend to be very cooperative and accommodating on a photo shoot. This is one of our most beautiful moths with large pink and olive-green streamlined wings. The name comes from the caterpillar which looks like an elephant’s trunk when it extends itself. This is one of the few caterpillars that can actually swim, in which it may resemble a small grass snake.



Elephant Hawkmoth Deilephila elpenor


Elephant Hawkmoth Deilephila elpenor


Elephant Hawkmoth Deilephila elpenor


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 6th July 2019
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


 

Lime Hawk-moth


Mimas tiliae – This is a large and impressive hawk-moth with scalloped-edged forewings and olive-green and pinkish markings. The central dark forewing markings may be variable, and in some individuals may be joined to form a cross-band.


Lime Hawkmoth Mimas tiliae


Lime Hawkmoth Mimas tiliae


Lime Hawkmoth Mimas tiliae


Lime Hawkmoth Mimas tiliae


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon Coolpix P500
Date taken: 26th June 2013
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


 

Skin Moth


Monopis laevigella  – A tiny micro-moth with a forewing length of between 5-10mm (1/4-3/8in). The wings have a purple sheen peppered with pale scales and a pale blotch just off centre on the forewing. The larvae feed on animal foodstuffs like bird’s nests, owl pellets and dead animal carcasses.


Skin Moth Monopis laevigella


Skin Moth Monopis laevigella


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D7200
Date taken: 28th August 2017
Place: Attracted to moth trap, rear garden, Staffordshire


 

Green Long-horn


Adela reaumurella – This is the male with his extraordinary long white antennae, which are three times the length of the forewing. The adult flies in May and June, and in the daytime, where they may swarm.


Green Long-horn Adela reaumurella


Copyright: Peter Hillman
Camera used: Nikon D3200
Date taken: 4th May 2015
Place: Local wood, Staffordshire


 

Small And Mighty

Stump Puffball (Lycoperdon pyriforme) There appeared to be hundreds of these tiny balls swarming over a mound of earth near the river. They are apparently feeding off a buried stump, and are usually seen in large numbers.

Stump Puffball Lycoperdon pyriforme

October 2019. Nikon D7200 © Pete Hillman.

Small And Fragile

Milking Bonnet Mycena galopus

Not sure about this one. Might be Milking Bonnet (Mycena galopus), but did not want to snap it to see if it seeped milk or not. It seemed a shame to do so. Quite easy to miss on the woodland leaf carpet because it is so small … the bonnet about the size of a fingernail, yet the stem so tall and slender.

Local wood. October 2019 © Pete Hillman.

Spectacular Rustgill

Spectacular Rustgill Gymnopilus junonius

Of x3 photos. Spectacular Rustgill (Gymnopilus junonius), as it says in the title, and you can see why by its  vivid colour.

Spectacular Rustgill Gymnopilus junonius

There was quite a cluster growing out of a rotting tree stump in the local wood.

Spectacular Rustgill Gymnopilus junonius

October 2019 © Pete Hillman.

Brolly For The Fairies

Parasol Macrolepiota procera

Of x3 images. This is one of the larger mushrooms I spotted today, and I couldn’t really miss it as it had the diameter of a side plate.

Parasol Macrolepiota procera

It is simply called Parasol (Macrolepiota procera), and you can see why. This is one to keep the elves and fairies dry in the rain 😉

Parasol Macrolepiota procera

Local wood. October 2019 © Pete Hillman.

Beautiful In Pink

Rosy Bonnet Mycena rosea

I believe this is Rosy Bonnet (Mycena rosea), very closed related to Mycena Pura, and in fact they may well be one and the same species.

I spotted this beautful pair in the local wood this morning as I went on my first mushroom hunt of the season. Muddy knees indeed!

October 2019 © Pete Hillman.

Like Ornamental Glass

Geranium

This is a hardy Geranium after rain, one of the few remaining flowers left in the garden as autumn deepens. The flower is so delicate and refined with those shimmering raindrops it is like it is made from the finest glass.

This can be quite tricky to photograph. Besides the lighting conditions, it all depends on where you focus as the depth of field can go anywhere. I always use manual mode for full control, and take several photos, picking the one which I think works the best.  I tried to keep it soft on the side edges, ensuring the background was completely blurred. This makes the flower and its details pop more, especially if you can tone down the back lighting, too.

Double click if you wanna get closer…

October 2019 © Pete Hillman.

Under A Strip of Bark

Discus Snail Discus rotundatus

By my plant pot full of moss I have a strip of bark leaning against some heather. Occasionally I will lift it to see what is sheltering in the dark and damp place it helps create there. Clinging to the underneath of the bark I found a 5-7mm (around 1/4 inch) Discus Snail (Discus rotundatus). For such a small creature it has such amazing detail and colours.

Double click if you wanna get closer…

October 2019 © Pete Hillman.