Hovering hoverflies

The marmalade hoverfly (Episyrphus balteatus) is one of the most common and widespread hoverfly species found in Britain. Like many hoverflies, the males typically hover for long periods in a chosen sunspot, chasing away other males and intruders of all sorts (including butterflies), before returning to approximately the same position. In this case, the hoverflies were…

Bonking burnets!

The small male, Narrow-bordered Five-spot Burnet moth (Zygaena lonicerae), did not seem to mind being dragged around by the much larger female as she nectared on thistle flowers whilst they remained in copula! Burnet moths (Zygaena spp.) can remain in copula for considerable periods of time, up to 24 hours according to HofmAnn and Kia-Hofmann…

The mighty Emperor

In dragonflies, males are generally classed as fliers or perchers. Fliers spend most of their time on the wing – and have longer wings – whereas perchers spend most of the time sitting on a perch, from which they make short flights, defending territories and seeking females. The emperor dragonfly, Anax imperator Leach (Aeshnidae) is…

Dancing demosielles

There are four species of these beautiful Calopteryx damselflies belonging to the family Calopterygidae, in Europe, and two occur in Britain: the Beautiful and the Banded demoiselle (below). There are also a number of subspecies of each type. In this blog I am featuring a Spanish subspecies of Calopteryx virgo, called meridionalis, and Calopteryx splendens from Bedfordshire in…

Why are some young leaves red?

Mark Cocker’s Country diary piece in the Guardian this week, 1 June 2021 (‘the most seductive shade of green‘) got me thinking about leaves, trees and colours. As Mark reminded us, leaves look green because chlorophyll molecules absorb the red end of the visible light spectrum in photosynthesis, and the unused green light is reflected. Counterintuitively perhaps, they are green…