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musca domestica

Time flies – unless you’re a fly

What do flies and the Matrix have in common?  Recent research (and catching up on some 90s DVDs) suggests it’s the ability to avoid fast-moving objects by watching them in slow motion.  Whether it’s Neo dodging bullets in bullet time, or a Musca domestica dodging a newspaper at lunchtime, both can observe speeding objects moving as though through treacle. […]

White Plume Moth

Not all Little Brown Jobs…

…but not all glamour queens either If you ever thought that all British moths were drab and boring, think again.  Well, OK, we have our fair share of drab and boring, but that’s not the whole picture. Just like birdwatchers have their “LBJs” (“Little Brown Jobs” which are hard to identify and frankly not worth […]

Bees

Poetry please

A tranquil interlude We came across this peaceful moment today at an exhibition of the works of Ian Hamilton Finlay at the Arnolfini.  (We’re not sure of the intellectual property ramifications of reproducing it here, but we do at least know that we can claim copyright in the photo!)  In the meantime, enjoy the poetry of the […]

scaptia beyonceae

Rear of the Year

It’s a survivor Not much happens in the Atherton Tablelands, a remote agricultural corner of Queensland mainly populated by dairy cows and horseflies. But life in the Atherton has just got a whole lot more bootylicious with the official arrival of Scaptia beyonceae.  That’s right, a species of the Scaptia genus of horsefly named after none other than Mrs Carter […]

Black Oil Beetle

As pretty as an oil painting

One of the Famous Five Our friend Di took this lovely shot of a Black Oil Beetle Meloe proscarabaeus in her garden.  Not only is she lucky enough to have such a distinguished visitor, her photo also won third prize in the village summer show!  She correctly identified it as an Oil Beetle (family Meloidae, also known as Blister […]

Large White Pieris brassicae

Of Cabbages and Things…

The Wonderful Large White   “Large White” can refer to a type of cabbage (yum!), butterfly (aah!) or even pig (Catherine says: pig! pig! oink!).  What do they have in common, besides the name? Well, for a start, both the pig and the butterfly will eat the cabbage, given half a chance.  (This is starting […]

Bird-cherry Ermine Moth plagues surrey

When is a plague not a plague?

Blessings in disguise A street in south London has apparently been “invaded” by a “plague” of Bird-cherry Ermine Moth caterpillars Yponomeuta evonymella. The good people of Warfield Road have been complaining in the pages of the Evening Standard that their trees (presumably Bird-cherries Prunus padus) are being damaged and that “it’s just not on.” Quite […]

Henry's Pond Leech

Henry’s Pond Leech

Lovely, lovely leeches Now, there’s a phrase you don’t read every day. Henry and his Dad were cleaning out the pond pump and found a couple of freshwater leeches inside the filter.  It’s hard to know quite what they are (even leech experts have trouble telling species apart) but we’ve finally settled on Dina lineata […]

pond skaters

Lovely day for a swim water bug…

…or a skate Henry and his Dad spent the afternoon watching the frogs in their pond.  These lovely amphibians (the common frog Rana temporaria) are, of course, vertebrates and so not really relevant on this blog.  But they eat invertebrates, so they kind of count.  And we also spotted at least one kind of aquatic […]

Even more legs!

What’s going on? OK, this is getting silly (and not a little embarrassing).  After our centipede interloper yesterday, today we found a millipede on the bathroom floor.  I’m now getting seriously concerned about the ventilation in there as both these species love moist conditions.  Not a good sign. Anyway, this time we’ve got ourselves what […]