Friday, 1 August 2014

The see-through hoverfly

This biggish hoverfly (Volucella pellucens) is sometimes called the Pellucid Hoverfly.  Pellucid mean clear or transparent.  The white middle section of the thorax is actually translucent, you can see sunlight shining right through.
It has bold bodily markings, and prettily patterned wings with an amber leading edge and dark brown spots halfway along.  It also has an orange face between the big eyes on either side of its head.
I read in my insect book that it likes woods and is especially fond of bramble flowers.  This is clearly why it is around now.

The males hover just above human head height so you may not notice them.  This one unfortunately died in my conservatory so I kebabbed it on a pin for the photo.
The larvae or grubs apparently live in the nests of bumble bees and social wasps (that's the black and yellow stripey jobs so many people love to hate), feeding on the rubbish and even on their hosts' larvae.

There's a good page for recognising hoverflies on

Monday, 28 July 2014

Old Man's Beard

The hedges are festooned with the creamy white flowers of Traveller's Joy, the wild clematis, also known as Old Man's Beard because of the fluffy white autumn fruits.
But although it is beautiful, this plant can weigh down the tops of young trees with the sheer bulk of its growth.
Like all clematises, the flowers actually have no petals.  What we see are the sepals and a spray of long stamens.


Thursday, 24 July 2014

Handsome Hogweed

Hogweed is a very common flowering plant and we have loads of it at Filnore Woods.

It's statuesque stems impress, whether flowering or seeding.

Although it is not a problem for most of us, some people find that the volatile substances in the leaves and stems can cause a rash or even blisters, particularly in hot weather.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Church flowers

At the recent Flower Festival at St Mary's Church,
this arrangement was themed on Filnore Woods. 
Thank you, flower arrangers.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Clover feeds Marbled Whites

Red Clover is in full bloom at Filnore Woods. 

It's beautiful in itself but even better, it is one of the favourite foodplants of our Marbled White butterflies. July is the top month for butterflies so get out there on a sunny day and watch them decorating the world as they search for nectar to guzzle.

An article in the times on Saturday said that this year may be a bumper year for Marbled Whites.  The heatwave last summer apparently favoured their breeding cycle and so many more caterpillars feeding in the grass last year will mean more butterflies this year.  Let's hope it comes true.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Purple flowers

Purple flowers have appeared to feed the butterflies and bees.  The spikey one is the Scotch Thistle.

Its relative the Greater Knapweed is also rich in nectar but not prickly.

In addition we have the mauve Field Scabious, another butterfly favourite . . .
. . . and Great Willow Herb;  not sure what you would call this colour - magenta?

Simon Harding has taken some much more professional photos.  Here is a sort of mini-quiz from his images.  Which flower is it and who is sitting on it?  Answers in order below.







1. Field Scabious
2. Field Scabious + Burnet Moth
3. Greater Knapweed + Small Tortoiseshell
4. Field Scabious + Small Tortoiseshell
5. Greater Knapweed
6. A Knapweed, could be Lesser Knapweed + Burnet Moth
7. Greater Knapweed + Marbled White


Monday, 14 July 2014

Yellow flowers of July

It's easy to miss the variety of flowers in the fields at Filnore Woods, because so many of them are the same colour.  Let's look at some of the yellow ones.
This is Lady's Bedstraw, so called because, according to legend, the Virgin Mary lay on a bed of it in Bethlehem  because the donkeys had eaten everything else.  When dried the plant, which contains coumarin, is pleasantly fragrant and so was one of those used to perfume bed linen and discourage bedbugs.

Scrambling amongst the grass blades you may spot the five petalled Creeping Cinquefoil.  (I mean it will be scrambling, not you).  The leaves are made of five leaflets and the flowers are a bit like buttercups.

Another bright yellow flower is the Meadow Vetchling, a member of the pea family.  It is also a scrambler amongst the grass.  (I mean it will be scrambling, not you).The leaves are narrow and almost grass-like.  Apparently it is rich in protein and therefore good for grazing animals in a meadow or pasture.

The fourth flower I managed to photograph today was Agrimony.  The flowers open in turn up the long spikey inflorescence.  The seeds forming below them have little spikes which catch on to animal fur and the socks and shoe-laces of passers-by, like goosegrass seeds.  It was thought to be magical and was called 'Fairy's Rod' but the church changed it to 'Aaron's Rod' to discourage pagan beliefs.