Saturday, May 21, 2016

Aphids and red campions

Some of the leading shoots of our red campions have developed colonies of chubby, shiny black aphids over the last few weeks. These are either Brachycaudus lychnidis or B. klugkisti, species that are difficult to separate.  Sometimes they cluster in the flowering tops of the plant (see right) and they also spread out across a leaf like a herd of grazing cows (see below).

These aphids appeared before any flowers had opened and were soon attended by egg-laing female hoverflies.of the Platycheirus scutatus group.  This includes several species some of which are little known and are difficult to separate in the female sex (though I might have a go in due course).

As well as red campions, the sweet vernal grass has started to flower.  The plants now cling to the southern edge of the study area where there is plenty of light. (The rear of the area is now very shady and has a woodland character).

High above the ground (2 metres) and poised above Emthree I spotted a snail in a cross-roads between a spiny wild rose and a crucifix-shaped piece of ash wood.  It seems to me there is symbolism in this so close to Easter, but I leave my visitors to work out what this might be.