Friday, 13 July 2012
The species can be recognisd by its dry, scaley cap, brittle flesh and a very faint smell of garlic. H. helobia is most often associated with the edge of wetland areas and these two were growing on the side of the path in wet, peaty soil.
Another nice find was the larva of the other species of Microdon hoverfly in Cumbria, M. myrmicae. The slug-like larvae of this species feed on ant grubs of Myrmica ants in grass tussocks and Sphagnum hummocks in wetland areas. Two larvae of M. myrmicae were found in just such an ant nest in a Sphagnum hummock by Wise Een tarn.
However the limestone grassland was in fine flower with these Fragrant Orchids, near the lime kilns over the viaduct, among the highlights.
Less spectacular but perhaps even more interesting was the discovery in an ant nest of several hatched puparia of the hoverfly Microdon mutabilis, which can be recognised by the reticulated pattern on the dorsal surface. The larvae of the hoverfly feed on ant grubs in the nest and are somehow able to survive without being killed by the adult ants. The limestone hills of south Cumbria are a national hotspot for this fly. A note on Microdon hoverflies in Cumbria was recently published in the Carlisle Naturalist.
Saturday, 30 June 2012
Day off on 26th June, so headed for the high Pennines. The day began well with nice views of a Short-eared Owl hunting over the moorland in the morning sunshine. Golden Plover and Curlew calls carried across the fellside...