As coronavirus gradually reduced our horizons during our recent stay in Houston, it was surprising how many insects one came across in the garden. Surprising because continuous chemical warfare is waged against termites and cockroaches, which would both soon become very widespread without it.
The presence of lizards and birds, such as cardinal, mocking bird and blue jay, does suggest that there are insects around, and if you go in the summer there will be mosquitoes due to large amounts of standing water. Fortunately these were not significantly around during our recent visit. We did see odd cockroaches, the great survivors, but these are not my favourite photographic subjects.
Bees were around on emerging spring flowers, but my two best pictures were of a monarch butterfly and a colourful paper wasp(?).
This long (more than an inch) black beetle was all but invisible on the stony path I was walking on in Tatton Park. I had no great hopes for the photograph, but the image comes up reasonably well with a bit of brightening up.
I think this is a Devil’s Coach Horse Beetle. Apparently, this is one of 46000 species of the rove beetle family, a fast and ferocious night time predator. And it has a nasty bite and can emit a foul smelling odour. I had sort of intuited that it was an unsavoury character!
The segmented abdomen allows it to curl the tail up, like a scorpion. Neither the Wildlife Trusts (above link) nor Wikipedia explains why – I’d guess it’s for balance.
I recently photographed this burnet moth in the Dordogne, at a place on a walk we enjoy in the hills near the river Vezere. We’ve dubbed this place Butterfly Corner. It’s where the path through the woods opens out and joins a road which leads down to the nearby village.
Why is it Butterfly Corner for us? It’s because the patch of land belonging to the house there has been allowed to go wild and be natural, and it attracts a large number of insects – we saw bees, a hornet, and plenty of butterflies. It’s no great hardship, after a walk uphill, to hang around for a while watching and photographing what we see there, busy in the wild flowers.
I was quite excited to see this burnet moth as I’ve not seen one in the UK for several years. I said, with the confidence of the incorrect…
It was quite a shock to come across this large insect, nearly 2 inches long, in the bathroom during a short stay in Brittany. Insect intruders are quite common, but not usually that big. It is a great green bush cricket (or katydid).
See the remarkably long antennae.
Fortunately there was a glass and piece of card large enough to put over the insect to enable its safe removal from the house.
Buddleia is often called the ‘butterfly bush’, and ours has lived up to its name this summer. This has been a good summer for butterflies compared to recent years, but the numbers are still much less than in some summers of memory.
Peacock butterflies have been particularly evident, with their strikingly attractive mock eyes.
Painted lady butterflies are sometime migrants to the UK. We’ve seen a lot this year, so this must be a bumper year when they come here in large numbers.
These painted ladies were around thistles on local farmland. They have a certain faded grandeur, compared to the vibrant colors of the young, but this is maybe not too surprising considering the long migration.
This small moth, only about 10mm long, appeared in my study window today. This led me to the joys of trying to identify what sort of moth it is. There appear to be many very similar sorts of moth with similar grey mottling. A keyword search came up with this mottled beauty. I don’t know if this is a correct identification, the proboscis looks too long, but this moth certainly has the characteristic of mottled beauty!
Any comment offering a correct identification would be most welcome.
The macro photograph certainly shows levels of dirt hardly visible to the naked eye! So I won’t give an image with full detail. Time to clean in the corners of that window frame.
Granddaughter spotted this leaf insect in Houston, and it somehow finished up on her hand. What an amazing camouflage, looking just like a leaf.
It seems to be a katydid, in America anyway. Brits call it a bush cricket, and the scientific name is tettigoniidae.The picture below shows the long antennae – it was once called a long-horned grasshopper.
The name ‘katydid’ is onomatopoeic, coming from the particularly loud, three-pulsed song – as is ‘cicada’, to which they are related. There are actually thousands of species in this family.
Information thanks to Wikipedia link in the text.
Thanks to momma for photographing on her iphone!
There were quite a few of these insects in an area of Tatton Park by the lake, and they seemed to relate to small holes in the ground prevalent in that area. At first we thought it was some sort of solitary bee, but web research didn’t come up with any matching images. It seems it must be some sort of digger wasp, of which there are 110 different species in the British Isles.
According to Buglife, digger wasps are solitary nesters, and the tunnels may be 30cm deep. They may also nest near to each other in colonies, which is what we saw in Tatton.
There seem to have been quite a lot of orange tip butterflies around the last few weeks, some looking really fresh like this one. Unusually, it paused awhile in the sun with wings open, allowing a few quick shots before normal fluttering was resumed.
According to Wikipedia, orange tips are appearing earlier in the spring, and this must be a male, as “the more reclusive female… lacks the orange and is often mistaken for other species of butterfly”.
Strangely, the usually infallible autofocus on my Panasonic TZ200 does not appear to have got anything completely sharp, and that’s the same on several shots, so is probably not due to hand movement. Maybe there was just too much detail at different distances and differing illuminations in the strong sunlight (featured image shows how much was in shot).