Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Start of the Cricket Season

I have been finding cricket nymphs in the field for a few weeks now but July is usually the time when adult crickets start to appear. Over the last couple of weeks, I have been enjoying some early evening walks across Pevensey Levels. At this time of day, butterflies and dragonflies are more inclined to bask in the weakening sunshine and they can be more easily approached with a camera.
A species of cricket that I have been seeking out for a few years, having never seen it before, is the Long-winged Conehead (Conocephalus discolor). I have seen its close relative, the Short-winged Conehead (C.dorsalis) a few times on the levels but at the weekend I was thrilled to come across an adult female discolor slowly moving about amongst the fleabane flower heads.
Long-winged Conehead (Conocephalus discolor) (female)

I have always found the Brown Hawker (Aeshna grandis) to be a very wary dragonfly and it rarely allows close approach but occasionally you get lucky. Whilst I was standing in the shadows of a hedgerow watching one hawking for prey, it landed opposite me on the other side of the track and seemed oblivious to my presence.
Brown Hawker (Aeshna grandis) (female)

A few weeks ago I saw several Painted Lady butterflies (Vanessa cardui) fluttering low amongst the many thistle patches that grow on the levels. They were clearly looking to lay eggs and I made a mental note to return and search for larvae when they were reaching maturity. The larva constructs a silk tent in which to feed and they are easy to find.
Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) (mature larva within its silk tent)
cardui larva (dark form)
cardui larva (grey form feeding on thistle sp.)

The summer generation of Wall (Lasiommata megera) is well underway on the levels. Two males were regularly flying into each other's airspace and battling. I managed to get a photograph of each of them and subtle differences in their markings can be seen, particularly in the hindwing spotting.

Wall (Lasiommata megera) (males)

Whilst walking along Bexhill seafront with Carol and my father last week, I came across a very fresh looking Magpie Moth (Abraxas grossulariata) resting on the tarmac pavement. In my youth, this moth was known to me as the Currant Moth. In those days I would regularly find it in our Brighton garden and on the Downs but nowadays I rarely come across it further inland.

Magpie or Currant Moth (Abraxas grossulariata)

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