Southern Marsh Orchids

Southern Marsh Orchids

Wednesday 30 March 2016

frog spawn (?) and a leech on the garden decking

With all the rain we've had the decking has occasionally held water at one end but this eventually runs away. I moved some pots yesterday and found this lump of, what looks like, frog spawn on the decking behind a pot. I don't have a pond but have occasionally seen a frog around the garden, so is it ok to move this to the local 'frog pond' ?

Under the pot I found what I assume to be a leech. Contracted it was about 1/2 inch or so, but stretched to at least 2 inches.

On a more colourful note, I saw my first Marmalade Hoverfly of the year and managed to get a picture of a Buff-tailed Bumblebee sunning itself on the fence.

Saturday 26 March 2016

Milesina murariae

I have been looking around for a particular rust fungus which affects the diminutive fern, Wall Rue (Asplenium ruta-muraria), to be found quite commonly on old walls quite widely, as well as on limestone.
Having observed recently, that all the fern rusts (Milesina Spp.) seem to be having their season, I thought I would check any Wall Rue I came across, looking for the tiny whitish spore masses so characteristic of the genus Milesina (who says rusts have to look rusty?) and on the first plant I looked at, there they were. A couple of days later, I happened to notice a plant growing in an old school wall, as I walked past. I turned a frond over and there were the tiny white spots. I have since found it at a third site (I have only looked in three sites), so although M. murariae is described as rare, it is probably just uncommon and overlooked, just like a lot, if not most so called rare microfungi.

The white spore masses on the underside of a Wall Rue Pinna

If you want to give the fern rusts a go, then now is the time to get the hand lens out and start looking under those manky looking fronds.

Dryopteris Filix-mas, with the spores of, most probably M. kriegeriana, which is
the common rust found on Male Fern, but it is possible that it might be M.
carpatorum, which is regarded as rare. Only microscopic examination of the
spores will tell.

Uredispores of M. scolopendrii, on the underside a the frond of Hart's-tongue Fern.
Postscript: The Milesina on Dryopteris filix-mas, above, did indeed turn out to be M. kriegeriana.

Friday 25 March 2016

Creigiau gardening finds

Finally dry enough to make a start on preparing the flower beds for the coming season.

Lots of Ground Beetle larvae in the flower beds and found a couple of (what look to be) White-legged Snake Millipedes under some plant pots on the decking. Digging in the raised beds disturbed a number of fast moving centipedes which looked to be of at least two different species - I managed to catch one of each for a closer look. Similar in colour but the first was approx 20-25 mm long with 21 pairs of legs, possibly one of the Cryptop species, whilst the other was 65-70mm long with 80 pairs of legs - not sure but, from the length and legs, this could be Stigmatogaster subterranea.

Ground Beetle larva
White-legged Snake Millipede?
Cryptops sp ?
Stigmatogaster subterranea ?
Also found this little beastie on the window. I think it is a Limonid Cranefly, and, with the dark stigmata and black bands above the knees and the green underbody, it could be Dicranomyia chorea.

Sunday 13 March 2016

Philapotamus montanus

Visiting a favourite little wooded valley of mine, near Llwydcoed, this afternoon, I found Milesina Sp rusts on several ferns, so anyone wanting to find rusts on ferns should take a look now, as they seem to be coming into their own at the moment. Although I have my suspicions about a couple of them, I won't know their identity for sure until I have the chance to get them under the microscope.

While there, in the warm sunshine, I saw my first Philopotamus montanus of the year. This caddis is very distinctive and is the only one I am confident enough about to record. Because it is on the wing so early and is such a beautiful thing, it is one of my favourite insects.