Saturday, July 26, 2014

A candy stripe spider

The picture below shows a female candy-stripe spider (Enoplognatha ovata sens. lat.).  This species is easily confused with its rarer relative Enoplognatha latimana – the two were only separated towards the end of the last century.  The spots on the abdomen are characteristic, but often there are red, or deep pink, stripes as well


E. ovata spends the winter in leaf litter and grass tussocks and comes up to low growing vegetation in spring and summer.  The females bind some leaves together with silk and guard an egg-sac within.

A common and widespread species in the British Isles.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Sawfly predator

Most years we get troupes of larvae of the sawfly Nematus pavidus eating the leaves of the goat willows (Salix caprea) in the window box (see entry on 21st September 2008).  There are usually two generations in spring and summer.

This year the spring generation performed as normal, turning many leaves to fretwork and some just to a midrib.  The second generation also started off well, but went into a decline a week or so ago.  Today I could only find one or two sickly individuals, but noticed the predatory mirid bug Heterotoma planicornis running about where the sawfly larvae had been.  They pierce their victims with the proboscis and suck the juices out.


Though not obvious from the photo this is a very distinctive insect with flattened second antennal segments and slender whitish ones beyond these.  This rather poor picture gives a better idea.


The bug is quite small, so maybe it had some help in eliminating the sawflies.