Sunday, 9 August 2015

Wollerton Wetlands

This months Shropshire Invertebrate Group meeting took place at Wollerton Wetlands. This site is to the west of Market Drayton and was created when the bypass around the village of Hodnet was built. As it was a site I was unfamiliar with I was not sure what to expect, but it ended up being a super little site with a large pool surrounding by a good variety of plants and scrub and with bountiful nectar sources.

A few species were particularly abundant. Now is the time of year to check ragwort plant for the caterpillars of the Cinnabar Moth Tyria jacobaeae. There seemed to be dozens of these juicy orange and black caterpillars clinging onto every ragwort plant around the site, with a population of a few thousand individuals. This is a great species for people starting out on entomology, as they are so attractive, distinctive, common and easy to find.

Cinnabar Moth Tyria jacobaeae

They other species that seemed to be on site in the hundreds was the Harlequin Ladybird Harmonia axyridis. This invasive species was present in every conceivable variation of markings, just one of which is shown here. The brown legs and wide keel on the elytra appear to be consistent features for this species, which can often catch people out with some of the variations looking similar to native ladybird species.

Harlequin Ladybird Harmonia axyridis

Amongst the common species, there were some that were new for me. This included the impressive four-banded longhorn beetle Leptura quadrifasciata. This is actually quite a common species, and is hopefully something I will begin to see more regularly.

Leptura quadrifasciata

As well a new beetle, I also saw a new bug. There were several species of shieldbug (Hemiptera) on one of the birch (Betula) trees, and this included several Parent Bug Elasmucha grisea. This is the final instar nymph, the streaking on the front half of the upperside is diagnostic of this species.

Parent Bug Elasmucha grisea

I was also able to pin down the identity of a tachinid fly that I have been seeing around the garden recently. I found a few of these on the site, and they proved to be Eriothrix rufomaculata, with the attractive red sides and spine on the abdomen. Whilst the adults are nectar feeders, the species is parasitic, with the larvae developing inside the larvae of moth species.

Eriothrix rufomaculata

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