Thursday, 8 June 2017

Day 8 - Silver-studded Blue Workshop at Portland

Led by Professor Jeremy Thomas, this was a day not to be missed and I was so pleased I managed to understand all of it - even the nitty-gritty differences between the three species of ants (Lasius alienus, lasius paralienus and lasius nigers - Hairy, Mohican hairy and non-hairy for a non-scientific explanation) To be honest I can't see myself wanting to get that close to ants, but I'm glad someone has and still does and probably always will because it's fascinating stuff and crucial to understanding the ecology of this declining species and therefore to manage its habitat and ensure its future survival.

The ants look after the pupae and even attend to the adult Silver-studded Blue butterfly and if the pupae feel they're not getting enough attention they've got these cool tube things which squirt out nice juice to the ants to say 'Hey, don't forget about me!' it's like their own sort of water pistol. I'd lvoe to see that happening. So the pupae excrete this sweet, sticky substance to feed the ants which perhaps otherwise would eat them, the ants protect the caterpillars and pupae from other predators and continue to attend to the newly-emerged butterfly.

And the icing on the cake (to continue the sweet sickly theme) was seeing Portland's first adult  Silver-studded Blue butterfly freshly emerged and posing nicely for a photo in the strong coastal breeze.

And - the cherry on the icing on the cake was seeing the tiniest egg in the world in the form of a Small Blue's egg on its food plant, Kidney Vetch - now that took some finding!

What a great way to spend Day 8 - it's going to be hard to beat that!

Lasius alienus attending to the Silver-studded Blue pupa in their nest

Freshly emerged Silver-studded Blue

Silver-studded Blue

Small Blue egg on Kidney Vetch

Small Blue egg on Kidney Vetch

No comments:

Post a Comment

Day 21 - Solstice Gloaming

It was a joy to be out in the cooler air of the evening tonight around Barrington in Somerset for an evening stroll and enjoy the twilight s...