crab spider, flowering in July, froghopper, green shield bug, harebell, hogweed, mating red beetles on flowers, Nursery Web spider, red soldier beetle, red-legged shield bug, spider that makes web tents in grass, strangalia maculata, sulphur beetle, wild thyme, yellow and black beetle
In the woods I spotted this extremely tiny froghopper, but only because he was struggling to extricate himself from a spider’s web built in ivy climbing up a tree trunk.
In the meadow, the Nursery-web spider would probably have escaped my notice too if I hadn’t been trying to get closer to a butterfly in the brambles. More used to seeing this species web ‘tents’ on the ground in the grass, I wouldn’t have realised who had built this one if I hadn’t seen her guarding it.
There are some lovely wildflowers in bloom in the meadow amongst the grass, my current favourite are the delicate-looking harebells,
although I have always been fond of the sunshine yellow Lady’s Bedstraw
but then there’s the Wild Thyme that is looking spectacular this year where a large patch of it cascades down the limestone rocks.
There’s a Cat’s Ear plant near that spot too, which nicely demonstrates both the flowers and the seedhead ‘clocks’ simultaneously.
Hogweed works at another level and is an invaluable food source for a whole host of insects from beetles to butterflies.
Some of the insects feasting on the flowers today were Sulphur beetles, including dozens of tiny ‘baby’ ones
A 7-spot ladybird, a so-far un-named brown beetle
There were dozens of Red Soldier Beetles, many in the act of procreation as these beetles always seem to be. There was a little moth there with them, but again I haven’t discovered what it is yet.
Whilst photographing a pair of mating Red soldier beetles, I noticed another beetle caught up in spider’s webbing. As I looked closer I spotted the head and front legs of a spider creeping up over the edge of the flower, then she darted out and begin to drag her victim backwards to where she had appeared from. This was a Crab spider, mistress of camouflage and deadly to insects that stray into her path regardless of their size. Cruel, but fascinating and quite a feat as the beetle was as least equal in size to her.
Crab spiders are able to change their body colour to match their background. The process can take a few days, but they can appear white, yellow or green. The irony of this scene struck me; a beetle life ended in full view of a pair of his kind in the act of procreating the species….
The Crab spider show would take some beating, but my ‘discovery of the day’ was quite definitely a splendid large yellow and black beetle, Strangalia maculata, that surprisingly doesn’t appear to have a common name.
On another flowerhead another spider lurked, this time a small brown one, much enlarged in the photograph.
In the long grass I spotted an insect flying and managed to keep an eye on where it landed, otherwise I would never have found it; a Gorse Shieldbug.
A bright fresh bronzy-coloured forest bug was more easily spotted.
A peek at the oak trees revealed tiny acorns. The ones I photographed belonges to a Sessile Oak – the acorns sit flat rather than hanging on stems as those of the Pedunculate Oak. Hopefully this will be a better year for them than last year was.
Rain clouds were gathering – is it really summer?
Highlighted text for Shieldbugs are links to more details about these insects in my ‘Species Collections’.