Tuesday, 16 May 2017

May 16th Catton Park and Mousehold Heath

Tree bashing in action!
Apparently I've been doing it wrong. When I was looking for acorn weevils at Mousehold a couple of weeks ago, I was trying to shake them out of the trees. It didn't work. Not surprising as I was told that when I shake a tree, the creepy-crawlies will hang tight as if a strong breeze is blowing. What I was suppose to do was give the branches a good bashing with a stick or something of that nature. So this morning, Mum and I decided to test this method out. We met up at Catton Park and made our way to one of the big oak trees at the centre of the park with the essential gear, which included a hoe and a large white bedsheet. We placed the sheet under the tree and Mum gave the branches a good thrashing with the hoe (no funny remarks please!).

Pale Brindled Beauty caterpillar (I think)

The method turned out to be very effective. It wasn't long until all sorts of things tumbled down to the sheet below. This included a big inchworm caterpillar, which I think is a pale brindled beauty. There were also a few tiny beetles and bugs, but of course, the real highlight was finding my main target, the acorn weevil.

Not sure. Possibly a young Plant Bug of some kind
Shieldbug instar (I think)
Mating Harlequin Ladybirds
Some kind of Weevil (I think)
Acorn Weevil
There are about 475 species of weevil to choose from in Britain and Ireland. This includes a few that look alike and live alongside the acorn weevils up in the oak tree. So how do I know if the ones I found are indeed acorn weevils? Well, to tell you the truth, I'm not sure. I do know that there are subtle differences in the antennae and that they are not quite so blotchy and that's about as much as I know. But I'm still going to tick it off even if it isn't the real deal. I'm pretty sure one of these is an acorn weevil though.

I wanted to see an acorn weevil because they look so alien. Take a closer look at one and tell me they don't look beautiful in their own unique way. That round, smooth, brown body, those big black, round eyes staring at you from it's tiny head between that long stalk of a snout, to me, they look like miniature acorns, the very thing they develop inside of while as larvae. Weevils are beetles and have their jaws attached to the very end of their snouts, which is called a rostrum. With these tiny jaws, they can snip into a plant and feast on the juicy parts inside. In the case of the acorn weevil, they use their long rostrum to chew their way to the centre of an acorn in order to lay their eggs inside.

Speckled Wood
After a successful half hour of tree bashing, I then helped out with a butterfly survey with Will at Mousehold Heath. It was a little bit breezy and there were a few butterfly-less sections in the survey route, but despite all this, it was a very warm, sunny day and we managed to tally up 20 individuals from 9 species. This included 2 speckled woods, 4 small coppers, 1 brimstone, 1 red admiral, 1 holly blue, 1 small tortoiseshell, 3 green hairstreaks, 1 orange-tip and the rest being either green-veined, small or large whites.

Small Copper
Green Hairstreak
Mother Shipton Moth

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