Wildlife as the humidity increases…

As tropical weather systems move across the Atlantic from the Caribbean the Barn Swallows have an abundance of food and can take time to rest and socialise. This is probably the best time of year to view their colours, as they perch on the ground.

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) on the ground

Between the showers, and even in them, you have a very good chance of spotting Ireland’s unique subspecies of Mountain Hare. The Irish or Blue Hare (Lepus timidus hibernicus) has a bluish sheen, which you can just about see in this photo, which was taken in difficult lighting just before a shower of rain.

An Irish Hare on the alert.

However, in the humidy of May keep your eyes on the hedgerows and you will see some very interesting creatures, such as the brilliant shiny green Birch Weevil, and the Strawberry Ground Beetle, which is a hunter that also enjoys eating strawberries. The Strawberry Ground Beetle is one of the most common beetles found inWicklow, and you will often find it under flowerpots. Although it does eat strawberries, it makes amends with gardeners by eating slugs too.

Birch Weevil (Polydrusus sericeus), on a Dock leaf, just to cause confusion.

 

Strawberry Ground Beetle (Harpalus rufipes), crossing a deep pile carpet of Sphagnum moss.

 

However, the most striking and bizarre thing that you are likely to see in the hedgerows at this time of year is a vast web, covering whole trees and bushes, and more. Many people are startled by the sight of this phenomenon, and often fear the invasion of some terrible tropical spider species like from the film Arachnophobia.

Tent-webs on a hedge

Those who dare to get closer are often startled by thousands of caterpillars writhing in the webs. The truth of the situation is far more interesting than you might think: the caterpillars spin these webs themselves, as protective tents to keep predators at bay while they feed unopposed. They are caterpillars of the beautiful, tiny, white-with-black- spots Small Ermine moth, which can be seen flying over the hedgerows throughout the summer months.

 

Caterpillars of the Small Ermine (Yponomeuta patella) feeding in their protective tent.

 

4 thoughts on “Wildlife as the humidity increases…”

  1. Thank you, Duchess Kate! I hope you are enjoying your honeymoon and getting lots of chances to view wildlife. It’s a good thing you’re interested in those things as you’ve married into a family of naturalists and outdoor types. The tent-webs are quite common, but not often noticed because they are usually located outside towns and villages and away from most people.

  2. Thank you, Duchess! Keep those eyes peeled, you never know what you might see! Congratulations on your own massive success!

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