The cricket and the ladybird

I’ve got a cricket and a ladybird to share with you. I was washing the car one morning and noticed this insect just sitting there on the alloy wheel!

I think it’s a male Oak Bush Cricket- Meconema thalassinum. Males have two short rounded claspers as in the picture, whereas females have a long ovipositor at the end of their body. More

I think it’s there because I have about a dozen oak trees in my garden that might have attracted it, albeit they are miniatures. It looked as if it was still forming as it was so fresh and green. Such a beautiful creature!

I thought crickets sang (stridulate) with rubbing their legs together, this is not the case. It’s grasshoppers that do this. Apparently both the male and female cricket have a ridged vein at the base of their forewings that acts as a scraper. To sing they pull this ridge vein against the upper surface of the opposite wing, causing a vibration amplified by the thin membrane of the wing. More

We have all tried at times to locate crickets when we could hear them chirping in the grass. But their hearing is so acute that they can sense the vibrations of your feet so stop singing. A great defence from predators with their hearing.

And then, whilst cutting some shrubs back in my garden, I acquired this ladybird on my blue fleece. It hitched a ride into the house, where I supposed it was trying to get somewhere warm for winter.

I think it is a Two-spot Adalia bipunctata f. quadrimaculata red-on-black four spotted form. The black versions are more common in the north as this “melanism” helps them to absorb heat from the sun. These are much smaller than the harlequin, at about 5mm, and as you can see the underside is black and has black legs. Harlequins have reddish-brown legs, and orange abdomen.
Cheers Andy, keep safe and well. 🦗 🐞

A visit to the dentist …

I had a wonderful visit to dentist last week as you do and I was amazed at what I saw. I was waiting to go inside and I noticed on the black handrail at the front there were some ladybirds and larvae, sunning themselves in warm sunshine.

The first one was a Harlequin -Harmonia axyiridis f.succinea with larva. This lady bird has a distinctive white spot on its head. The larva on right looks as though it has been feasting on aphids.

As I was coming out of the dentist, I noticed another Harlequin a bit further along the handrail.

This was a Harmonia axyridis f.spectabilis with larva as well.

I think the larva on the right is moving into the pupa stage.

For my hat trick of ladybirds, I have a 22 spot Psyllobora vigintduopunctata discovered in under growth at Barnsley Main Heritage site in the Timber Yard whilst digging out.

This is one of only three yellow ladybirds in the UK.

The other two are both 14 spot black on yellow and yellow on black.

I shall endeavour to find the other two!

Oh the joys of nature keeping us sane!
Cheers from Andy, keep safe and well. 👍🐞🌿🍄

Larvae -on leaves and in the hoverfly lagoon

From Catherine. One of the short walks I have managed was down to the river. The huge stands of nettles were covered with an eruption of ladybird larvae! Literally dozens of them, so although only a short walk it was so rewarding. Mark and I spent a happy time identifying the species.

These were mainly 7-spot. These have four yellow/orange spots on their abdomen and the same coloured spots on their thorax/head. The smaller grey one is the third instar and the larger black one the fourth instar.

We also saw a 14 spot, with the large pale stripe down its thorax and abdomen, and finally the wonderfully spiky 24 spot, though not the best photos! 

I also managed to attend the online FSC course on ladybird larvae identification. It was an excellent free course, just over an hour and can be viewed on YouTube: https://youtu.be/bcUrBmZ-DS4

Mark is now delighted that he has rat-tailed maggots in his hoverfly lagoons! Many hoverfly larvae live on plants eating aphids etc, but the rat-tails are the larvae of some species that are semi-aquatic, breathing through long air tubes. Hoverflies are important pollinators of plants but some species need stagnant water to breed, lay eggs, and for the larvae to develop. You can make your own hoverfly haven by using a small container of water and adding fallen leaves or organic matter. [Warning: it smells!]

Watch Professor Dave Goulson, the leading national expert in pollinator ecology, show you how to attract hoverflies into your garden with your own hoverfly lagoon. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ujFpW8U1t4 > o/�Lt