Friday, February 08, 2008


Its been glorious here in the south of England today - beautiful blue skies and I think a temperature of about 14c - not bad for early February!

Thus, today was the first day that the wee beasties came out to play in the garden.

I'm working nights at the moment, and haven't gone to bed yet, because of all the life in the garden to take photographs of...!
I've had cluster flies, hoverflies (drone flies), bluebottles, ants, ladybirds and spiders.

I'll just post 4 photographs on BG though (and not upload them to the New Warren (my online photo album - I'm dog-tired and think I can do better) - 3 of another "jumping spider", the "Zebra Spider" (Salticus scenicus), a bolder, brasher, brighter, more famous version of its cousin, the "Fence Post Jumper" (Marpissa muscosca). The Zebra Spider is more likely to bite you than the Fence-Post Jumper, and it may hurt a bit (a bit like a sting). It has MUCH larger fangs *chelicerae) if its a male, than its cousin, although these are almost invariably hidden behind its pedipalps. You'd have to really go some though, in order to provoke one of these to bite you.
The scenicus part of their scientific name literally means "actor" - quite apt I suppose - these are entertaining wee spiders...
This one was a very small example of a female (small chelicerae) though - no more than 4 or 5mm long.

The last photo is of a Pine Ladybird - sometimes called a 4 spot ladybird. It is smaller than many ladybirds (obviously early to appear though), black, with a noticeable rim around its elytra, and 4 red smudges. Some say the front 2 smudges look like commas, I think the four smudges look like 2 red ducks watching two red feathers floating down towards them.
Yes. I know. The men in white coats haven't quite caught up with me yet...
The Pine Ladybird is a hardy beastie. It often starts mating in warm days in mid February, like today, and lives on many trees - not just pines. It is certainly noted for eating Scale insects which dwell on Urban Lime trees - like the one behind our fence. It very possibly is the most adaptable (native!) Ladybird in the UK.

Click any of the images above to enlarge.
What a glorious sunny day! Right. I'm off to bed...

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