Thursday, August 09, 2007

Insects

The Scarce Swallowtail Iphiclides podalirius is also known as the Sail Swallowtail because of its large sail-like wings.
Its not a particularly scare butterfly here in the south of France.
A close-up of the tails showing the orange spots and blue details -this particular butterfly has lost the tip of its tail - either in a collision with a branch or in a near-miss with a predator.
This is Dolycoris baccarum the Hairy Shield Bug [aka Sloe Bug] Punaise des Baies [translation - berry bug]
The colours are a close match for the buddleia stem it is sitting on, so it is well camouflaged.

These bugs eat sap from plant stems or berries. Berries , such as raspberries, can be tainted by a fluid produced by these bugs although they are not a major problem for gardeners.


This is the Striped shield bug Graphosoma lineatum [italicum]
The French name is Pentatome rayé which also means striped bug
It looks like a Grammar school boy wearing a striped blazer -all it needs is a straw boater hat

The same bug is spotted rather than striped underneath.

There are quite a few burnet moths found in this area of France - the commonest being the 6-spot burnet moth Zygaena filipendulae.
Its difficult to be sure which type of burnet moth this is because the wing spots are so indistinct .

I've spent a lot of time looking at books and websites trying to identify the moth but haven't been able to decide definitely one way or another.

Burnet moths fly during the day and are dramatically coloured [Aposematic colouration] to deter predators.

The colour display warns that the moths are toxic due to a cyanide based poison created by the moths themselves rather than gathered from their food.

Burnet moths remind me of family holidays in Lytham St Annes and walking through the sand dunes towards the beach and sea. There were always loads of brunet moths feeding on the plants. In my mind's eye , I can see the vividly contrasting colours of glossy black and fiery red burnet moths flying past the yellow ragwort and sun bleached marram grass.

The dunes at Lytham St Annes are a site of special scientific interest and home to a diverse range of flora and fauna. However, they are under threat from commercial sand extraction, housing developments, and erosion from recreational vehicles.
The Defend the Dunes campaign is trying to preserve Lytham St Annes dunes.

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1 comment:

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