May moths and macro shots

Despite the ridiculously unsettled conditions that we are currently experiencing, a few of the smaller inhabitants of the island are just about managing to emerge. It is a very slow spring in terms of moths, with numbers in the moth traps barely struggling into the double figure mark. There are plenty of caterpillars around, such as Six-spot Burnets, Lackeys, Garden Tigers, a Grayling and Yellowtails. I have spent a bit of time taking macro shots of a few insects which I have come across, mainly because it has been very dull on the bird front! It has pretty hard to believe that we are now in June, especially considering that a 45mph wind is currently howling through, accompanied by horizontal rain and temperatures of 4’C with wind chill! Here is a selection of images from the last week or two:

This rather stunning insect is a Ruby-tailed Wasp (Chrysis ignita). It is a species of Cuckoo Wasp, and thus lays its eggs in the nests of other wasp species. The iridescent armour that this species possesses enables it to withstand the strong mandibles and stings employed by other wasp species in defence of the infiltration of a wasp nest. I found at least five individuals around the back of our house yesterday, basking in the (pre-storm) sunshine
This is perhaps my best macro shot yet of the Green Tiger Beetle, although the depth of field could be improved. There are still a few of these beetles stomping around the coast, although generally there seem to be fewer than a few weeks ago. The small holes in earth banks are, however, very obvious- this is where the larvae have their (effectively) pitfall traps

A Scalloped Hazel, amongst a total of three trapped so far this year

Common Marbled Carpets are just emerging
Lackey (moth) caterpillars are pretty cool. Aside their wild hairstyle, this species forms silk ‘tents’ in its earlier instar stages. Tens of caterpillars hatch out from a clump of eggs, and spin what is known as a tent. This tent contains many different chambers, which are layered from the inside out. Because of the silk’s insulating properties, the inside of the tent can be 30’C higher than the outside temperature!! This heat is used primarily during the caterpillar’s earliest instar stages, before they become big enough to withstand colder temperatures, at which point they leave the tent and forage on surrounding vegetation independently. 

Garden Tiger caterpillar

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