Southern Marsh Orchids

Southern Marsh Orchids

Sunday 29 September 2013

Bee Orchid

Bee Orchids, (Ophrys apifera) have been recorded in the past from Rhoose Point, but I hadn't seen one until the Bioblitz we held in July this year.  I took this snap of a stunning flower.

The blossom bears a resemblance to a feeding bee.  What is less well known is that it also smells like the bee with which it co-evolved.  Unfortunately for the Bee Orchid, the right species of bee is not present in this country so plants are self-fertile here.

The seeds are very small and produced in the thousands.  They are so tiny that they can be blown for long distances on the wind.  It is not uncommon to find them popping up in quite unexpected places, often in disturbed ground with calcareous soil.

The distribution map shows that they are well distributed across most of lowland England and Wales, and is one species that may be expanding its range northwards.

Wednesday 18 September 2013

Araneus quadratus

It is a good time of year to look for spiders and I spotted this one, Araneus quadratus, feeding on a cranefly in grassland on the capped asbsetos waste tip on Rhoose Point.  While colour is variable it is a distinctive species; the 4 large white spots on its abdomen are diagnostic. It is one of the comparatively few of the 650 British spiders that can be identified without resorting to a hand lens or a stereo microscope.
Araneus quadratus
 The Spider Recording Scheme reports that it is widespread but patchily distributed throughout Britain.  It is thought to be declining, probably because of habitat loss as it requires undisturbed vegetation with sufficient height and strength to support its large webs.  It is also Britains heaviest spider, and this female specimen's abdomen was an impressive 14mm in diameter.

It seems to be relatively scarce (or at least under-recorded) in Glamorgan: