Showing posts from June, 2018

Nosey grasshoppers

It’s not uncommon in southern Europe to come across a grasshopper that looks like a stick insect. A quick browse in Chinery’s book on insects and there was a species that matched it well – Acrida ungarica. This book gives no English name but more recently names that crop up are nosed grasshopper or cone-headed grasshopper, from its look, and Hungarian grasshopper, from its scientific name.
Insect ID often isn’t that easy and that’s the case here. Paul Tout, Honeyguide leader in Istria and Slovenia, sent me a link to an Italian picture showing two species. Some internet sources show three subspecies.
Then Paul Brock’s book ‘A photographic guide to Insects of Southern Europe & the Mediterranean’ was released late in 2017, and a visit to Crete in April was an ideal time to test this fine new book in the field.
The insects in Crete match perfectly what Brock calls Truxalis nasuta or Nosey Cone-headed Grasshopper (using Brock’s style of capital letters). The IUCN* calls this species Splen…

Nature in the heart of Norwich

For several years I have kept track of the fortunes of some bee orchids in urban Norwich. It all started by accident when I was cycling past and noticed both a bee orchid and a man with a strimmer. 

That conversation led to an annual visit to a patch of grass - now a wild flower meadow - outside Big Yellow Self Storage on Canary Way, opposite Norwich City FC’s football ground (for exampleBig Yellow bee orchids are back, June 2016).
Fast forward ten seasons and leaving the flowers to grow and bloom has become routine here – in a good way. Never mind the orchids – the show of ox-eye daisies is reason enough to stop and take a look. 

Of course ox-eye daisies are common on roadside verges, but somehow sandwiched between a garage and a supermarket alongside the inner ring road they have extra appeal. Not surprisingly the flowers were buzzing with bees when I took a close look on 5 June 2018.

Bee orchids like thin turf and have a way of popping up opportunistically in surprising and often infer…