Monday, 20 August 2012

Three Grasshopper species at Ainsdale, Lancashire

July 30 & August 2:
An area of sandy grassland near to a major nature reserve at Ainsdale had three species of grasshopper. In short dry turf where there were rabbit scrapes in the sandy soil, Mottled Grasshopper (Myrmeleotettix maculatus) was very frequent and present in a wide range of colour forms varying from green, through brown, to black. This is a relatively small grasshopper in comparison to the two other species found here: the Field Grasshopper (Chorthippus brunneus) widespread across most of the area and the Common Green Grasshopper (Omocestus viridulus) restricted to the longer, more dense grassland on the west side. Some colour forms of the Mottled Grasshopper are shown below and may result from cryptic adaptation to the habitat.

Green forms above, brown forms below

A black form of the Mottled Grasshopper

Two colour forms of the Field Grasshopper also occur here: a brown one which is the commoner, and a green one. This species is very hairy below the abdomen which can also have a reddish tip.

Field Grasshopper in  two colour forms

On the other hand the Common Green Grasshopper was only found in its most typical form.

Monday, 13 August 2012

French Jura: Orthoptera

July 17-21, 2012:
Much of this area of central France is rich in Orthoptera, especially crickets and grasshoppers. Most grassland and even roadside verges have a large number of individuals, often with a range of species represented. Sub-alpine grassland at the Foret du Risoux was particularly rich. Altogether, at least eight species of grasshopper and four species of cricket were seen and photographed during a five-day period of warm sunny weather. These are shown below.

An adult female Upland Green Bush-cricket (Tettigonia cantans) which is a relative of the Great Green Bush-cricket found in southern England but with broader more rounded wings - Lac de Bellefontaine. A male nymph is shown below.

Upland Green Bush-cricket male nymph

An adult female Roesel's Bush-cricket (Metrioptera roeselii) - La Cure, roadside verge

A male Sepia Bush-cricket (Metrioptera sepium) nymph - Foret du Risoux

Female Dark Bush-cricket (Pholidoptera griesoaptera) - Prenanon. Females have only minute forewings

A male Green Mountain Grasshopper (Miramella alpina) - Foret du Risoux

A female Green Mountain Grasshopper (Miramella alpina) - Foret du Risoux

A female Large Gold Grasshopper (Chrysochraon dispar) - La Cure

Small Gold Grasshopper (Chrysochraon brachypterus) - Lac Bellefontaine, male above, female below

Steppe Grasshopper (Chorthippus dorsatus) - La Cure

A female Leek Grasshopper (Mecostethus parapleurus) - Lac Bellefontaine

Meadow Grasshopper (Chorthippus parallelus) - Divonne-les-Bains

Common Green Grasshopper (Omocestus viridulus) - Bois d'Amont

Possibly a nymph of Heath Grasshopper (Chorthippus vagans) - Divonne-les-Bains

Possibly a nymph of Upland Field Grasshopper (Chorthippus apricarius) - Divonne-les-Bains

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

French Jura: Butterflies

July 17-21, 2012:
Woodland and open sub-alpine grassland in the Foret du Risoux near Les Rousses was rich in butterflies. The Adonis Blue and Large Ringlet were frequent here especially in the more open areas whilst three different fritillaries nectared on the flowery species-rich grassland.

Adonis Blue (male) above and below

Adonis Blue aberration showing pale-coloured striations replacing the marginal lunules

Large Ringlet (female) with conspicuous silver band on the underside of the forewing

Amongst the fritillaries, the False Heath Fritillary was the scarcest with the Meadow and Lesser Marbled more frequent.

False Heath Fritillary (both above)

Meadow Fritillary (both above)

Lesser Marbled Fritillary (three above)

A solitary Purple-edged Copper made a brief appearance, the brightly coloured dark bordered upperside seen clearly when in flight. This is a scarce butterfly.

Purple-edged Copper

A sheltered woodland glade near Divonne-le-Bains had several species including Silver-washed Fritillary, Chalk-hill Blue, Wood White and Large Skipper. Ringlets were locally frequent in damp pasture elsewhere.

Silver-washed Fritillary (male) with very broad silver bandings on the hind-wing underside

Chalk-hill Blue male

Wood White, a delicate weak-flying butterfly

Common Ringlet

Large Skipper
A Small Heath frequenting rough grassland at Lac de Bellefontaine

Foret du Risoux, butterfly-rich flowery grassland