BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

On a bike, riding somewhere. Every day, rain or shine.

Posts tagged ‘insects’

#365daysofbiking Interdependence


September 2nd – The Darlaston Robins Pincushion Galls are looking really amazing right now – the one on the main ‘trunk’ (stalk? Branch?) of the wild rose is the largest I’ve ever seen, and still growing – now the size of a tennis ball, but elongated. On the outer leaves, the one that clearly misfired across multiple leaf nodes is causing odd, isolated patches of gall growth on leaves and twigs that look almost tumourous in nature.

This is an absolutely fascinating thing and I make no apologies for regularly featuring it. This is part of the wasp gall’s lifecycle and it’s absolutely stunning that such a tiny insect should co-opt and corrupt the growth of a plant to create such a host for its larva.

Amazing stuff.

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#365daysofbiking Corruption

August 21st – My goodness, this is strange.

Y’all know I love and am fascinated by insect galls, right? Well the robins pincushion galls on the wild rose I’ve been watching grow for weeks just took an odd turn.

There are several galls on the same rose now, the only plant in the thicket to be affected. Most of the galls are large, colourful and dramatic. But one weedy little on at the end of a twig seems to have got into a bit of a mess.

The photo isn’t great, but one can see that corruption from the implanted wasp egg has not been concentrated in one leaf node; it’s spread to several and there are bright red patches of furry spines all over the adjacent leaves.

Wonder what went wrong there?

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#365daysofbiking Lily-white

August 12th – On the canal near Silver Street, Brownhills, the perfection of waterlilies. I love how they’re always a bit grubby, or host to insects. Like brightness in extenuating circumstances.

When I was young, we never had these on the canal at all. They are absolutely gorgeous – and clearly keep the pollinating overflies busy.

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#365daysofbiking Well spotted

July 17th – Near Jockey Meadows on the way home, I stopped to take a call on the phone, and whilst mooching around on handsfree, I noticed this 10 spot ladybird in the adjacent hedge.

It appears to be native and not a an invasive harlequin, and yes, 10 spot ladybirds often have 12 spots apparently! There’s a similar yellowish harlequin but the pattern is markedly different and there’s no tell-tale dimple on the rear of the wing cases on this one.

I guess I must have done but I don’t recall seeing one this yellow before. A rather charming and endearing find – and the client who called me had no idea what I was doing.

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#365daysofbiking From little acorns

July 15th – More galls: I mentioned knopper galls recently and pointed out these wasp galls deform acorn buds to form a home for the wasp larva within. I found an illustration of this in Victoria Park Darlaston.

This is a knapper gall starting to form. The acorn cap is normal, but where the smooth, rounded nascent acorn should be, there is a knobbly, textured growth which will expand to form the gall.

The DNA of the acorn has literally been corrupted or reformed to grow a home for the wasp egg within by a chemical the egg was coated with.

How does such a mechanism evolve? It’s truly wonderful.

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#365daysofbiking Flown

July 8th – The galls that formed on the oak trees in spring that looked like rosy apples have now served their purpose and are dead, their bodies spongy and containing many holes where the wasps that grew from larvae within ate their way out to freedom and maturity.

Galls fascinate me: Corruptions of the tree’s buds by a parasitic, tiny wasp, they grow as host to the wasp’s offspring and take many forms.

These expired galls signal the passing of the season and soon we’ll start seeing knapper and artichoke galls which form on acorn buts, but have the same genesis.

Parasites are fascinating.

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#365daysofbiking Hovering hawks

July 2nd – On a grass verge on an industrial estate near Darlaston, hoverflies  were busy pollinating the hawkweed flower – and both the flower and fly are overlooked stalwarts.

Hawkweed in all it’s forms is a common, bright splash of colour in town and country alike, and is a dweeler of the edgeland, wasteland and verge doing nothing more than providing beautiful flowers. Sadly often regarded as a weed or mistaken for dandelions, it gets sadly passed by but really is worth a look.

The hoverflies are one of the important pollinators, and although disguised to look like bees or wasps for protection from predators, they’re totally harmless.

Two unsung heroes, supporting each other…

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#365daysofbiking Bees do it

 

May 31st – Spotted purely by chance negotiating the new gate off the canal at Chase Road, Brownhills, a pair of bees apparently mating.

I did wonder at their size and apparerntly different species but no, they are most likely tree bumblebees making more tree bumblebees, bless them.

I left them in peace, the bees need all the chance to multipoly they can get.

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#365daysofbiking From mighty oaks

May 3rd – It’s always interesting to watch the variety and spread of oak galls on the trees I pass.

At the moment, rosy red oak apples are developing well, corrupted from leaf buds by the tiny wasp who laid her egg in the bud. Her larvae will hatch inside, done on the inside of the gall and drill their way out when mature.

Fascinating things that don’t harm the tree and continue a millennia old relationship between oak and parasite.

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