Tuesday, 21 July 2015


Many thanks to the Raptor who, following the recent Diary photograph of a golden ringed dragonfly emerging from its nymph exoskeleton - here - has turned his camera from birds to insects, and has sent in this picture of an adult enjoying a meal of what may be a flying beetle.

Thanks, too, to Les Humphreys for a photograph of the large and unpleasant-looking fly, Tachina grossa - and it is unpleasant, in that it seeks out caterpillars and lays its eggs inside them. The larvae then eat the insides of the still-living caterpillar before overwintering as a pupa.

This hoverfly isn't as big but is large by hoverfly standards. It was one of several insects recently found feeding happily on a patch of early thistles in flower in a sheltered and sunny hollow.

Enjoying a neighbouring thistle flower was a common red soldier beetle, Rhagonycha fulva. Usually there a numbers of these little beetles around at this time of year even though they're less common in Scotland than further south.

Insects in general are having a hard time of the weather this summer, but the butterflies seem to be suffering the most. There are relatively few around, even on the occasional sunny day, and when they do appear they're constantly on the wing, perhaps desperate to seek out a mate. This small heath found the effort to much for him: he collapsed onto a patch of dead grass to warm up in the sun.

The other butterfly which is on the wing in the grasslands in the hills is the common blue. They often run into small heaths, which results in a swirling dance of many colours.  This is a male, the browner females seem to be in short supply.

In the brief intervals when the sun has come out today, some of the bigger butterflies have been on the wing - but, in contrast, they're sluggish, pleased to find a spot where they can open their wings and soak up the warmth. This is a red admiral which, like the small heath, seemed to favour a patch of dead grass in our vegetable garden.

The six spot burnets which inhabit a field at the top of an Ormsaigbeg croft are, at last, making an appearance. In previous years, they've been out in early July or even late June, but this year the first appeared today. It, too, was so sluggish that I could have poked the camera lens up his ear and he wouldn't have flown.

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