Thursday, March 17, 2011

Woodland search

I spent a few hours this morning in the company of John O’Sullivan & Joan Childs. We were searching a local wood for the larvae of the rare hoverfly Callicera spinolae. Over the last few years, John has spotted adults nectaring on Ivy flowers in the Autumn. The larvae develop in the rot holes of trees like Maple and Ash, and so we arrived armed with spoons, ladles, ice-cream boxes, pale sheets….and a ladder!

As we made our way to our starting point we had a couple of views of a Fallow Deer. A little while later we also put up three Woodcocks from under our feet.

John began to scrape out the contents of a rot-hole and was taken aback to suddenly find a queen Hornet staring back at him. We were surprised to find her in a situation like this!

A little while later we were rewarded with our first Hoverfly pupa. There were 4 together and John has taken them home to breed them out.

Joan then found a rotted stump with a soup of water and detritus inside. John & Joan ladled out the contents and found a large number of hoverfly larvae:

These are Rat-tailed Maggots, the larvae of one of the Eristalis species of Hoverfly. A number of them were bagged up so that they could be bred through, too!

We never did find the larvae that we were looking for, but it made for a great morning in the fresh air! Oh, and we never did use the ladder!

UPDATE: The first pupae turned out to be the uncommon hoverfly, Criorhina floccosa, whilst the Rat-tailed Maggots emerged as Myathropa florea.

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