Keen NatureSpotters will have noted the return of flying insects in the last few weeks. The butterflies have been out in force but we have three other target species we need you to look out for. More...
Adrian Russell says: "This is a dayflying moth that normally flies in March and early April, and is generally seen flying around the tops of Birch trees in sunshine. One was recorded in Cloud Wood last week, so it is already on this wing this year. Because of its habits, it is probably an under-recorded species, though it can be common where it is found. It has mainly been recorded from Charnwood Forest area, with the only record from the eastern half of the county being a record from Burley Wood in 2002. I suspect it may be present at other sites with Birch trees in the county. There is also a very similar species, the Light Orange Underwing, which has very similar habits, except it is associated with aspen and flies a couple of weeks later. This species hasn’t been recorded from the County since the 1940’s and any potential sightings should be reported ASAP!"
This little orangey fly with long legs was first spotted in the County last year but reports last week suggested that it is out in force across the country. The larvae mine the leaves and pupate at the base of Narcissus (daffodil family) and sometimes damage the bulbs. The adults are found sitting on the leaves of daffodils or nearby vegetation. We need to document the arrival of this species in the County.
Neoascia hoverflies are unusual in having waisted body as well as being quite small for hoverflies and so may be overlooked or mistaken for a small hymenopteran. The latest national checklist of the Diptera lists six species of Neoascia all of which have been found in VC55. The rarest of these is Neoascia obliqua for which there are only two records in the County. This fly can be distinguished from similar members of the family by the oblique markings resembling an inverted V on the abdomen segment 2. The species is on the wing from spring to late summer but can be overlooked quite easily. However, it is usually associated with Butterbur (Petasites hybridus) and can be quite numerous when the plant is in flower - which is now! If you have any Butterbur near you please check, particularly on sunny days.
So remember, for the next couple of months we'd like you to stare obsessively at every Birch tree, clump of daffodils and stand of Butterbur you see. If anyone asks what you are doing, invite them to join in the fun!