Recent notes


Ruddy Darter






Nowickia ferox


near Battle

There was some relief from the dry spell at Battle yesterday with a light shower for fifteen minutes or so. Where relative humidity becomes very low in forests insects can find it difficult to access moisture. I witnessed this in eastern Poland in 1996 when there was a great summer heat and drought. Forest fires were widespread and people were banned from entering the woods. Hundreds of Silver-washed Fritillaries were swarming around brambles and other flowers on the boundaries of the forests.

Conditions here not at all severe, although I have recorded Silver-washed Fritillaries on three occasions recently, only one was flying low along a dusty track, sometimes alighting just for a moment. The others were all patrolling powerfully higher up along forest edges, one even chasing off a hunting Brown Hawker dragonfly.

Yesterday frequent sightings of a golden-coloured dragonfly in woodland, identified as young males of the Ruddy Darter. A hunting Emperor was seen resting in a loamy gutter cut alongside the forest ride. A large fly perching on wayside leaves was the parasitic Tachinid Nowickia ferox, which seeks out caterpillars of the moth Apamea monoglypha in which to lay her eggs.

I was able to record the Conopid Zodion cinereum which is a parasite of some Halictid bees and others.

A rather startling discovery recently for me was of the Soldierfly Oxycera rara at Ore Valley, an insect that associates with waterside mosses near seepages and a species which has a distribution that perhaps reflects the drainage pattern here in The Weald.

The Golden-ringed Dragonfly is present. I have seen an individual in the same area of forest on two occasions. It is a very large dragonfly and a voracious predator.

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