Monday 20 August 2018

Gravel puss and a solicitous damsel

Following the post where I was extolling the virtues of Wild Radish, I turned to more mundane matters and decided to tidy my van ready for the working week. The Satmobile has a hard life, lugging all manner of equipment to various points of the Orcadian compass, often in foul weather, so it was due a bit of TLC.

After vacuuming the cab, I bent down to coil up Henry's power cord and came face to face with this...

 A Puss Moth caterpillar, somewhat out of its comfort zone, in the middle of the gravel hard standing where we park our vehicles. How it came to be there, I know not, but after watching it for a few minutes, it became obvious that the caterpillar was trying to spin a cocoon.

We removed it to a place of comparative safety amongst the potted trees and shrubs tucked in by the garage wall, and left it to decide its own fate without becoming accidentally squished.

In the late afternoon, the sun eventually put in an appearance, so we drove down to Hoxa Head in South Ronaldsay to look for dragons and damsels at the pools there. Sadly, these were drier than my previous visit, with nary an ode in sight. Checking the old quarry nearby, we did manage to find six Blue-tailed Damselflies, including this bromance between two males.

The flight season in Orkney for this species has now passed its peak, so breeding opportunities will become ever more rare as numbers inevitably decrease. Some males struggle with this concept and will try to mate with females of a different species or, as in this case, with a male of the same species.

The lower male is showing his disgruntlement by flashing and flaring his wings at the other damselfly, which is as about as angry a sign as these insects can muster. For the record, mixed pairings, either of species or gender, are destined to be unsuccessful.

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