Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Black Aphids, Black Ants on Broad Leaved Helliborines

Thankfully I managed to get back up on Hutton Roof today especially to valuate the situation with the Broad Leaved helliborines (Epipactis helliborine).

Well although very much "down" in numbers, odd ones were "out".  I managed to view about thirty of what should have been more like 75 on the pavements today.  80% of them had still not come out of bud with just the odd ones showing flowers at the base of the plume.  I think they may struggle some of them but will again check them out in another week or so.

I have managed to find a couple which did show potential.  Here is a photo of one of them.

I wanted to put this photo up just to remind myself of what they look like!
This was one of the couple of plants that have managed to come through, but the bulk are just there with their buds tightly closed and in some cases "with shrinking buds".

In particular I wanted to check out the "Viride" variants or in betweens which we have up on Hutton Roof.  A couple of plants which are certainly very green are shown below:

This is a very green plant which has just begun to flower

This is one from a area well known for its "viride" variations or thereabouts!  We still have one or two to open up here but sadly the better specimens have already been predated.

And below is new specimen found by a friend of mine Robert yesterday which although a small plant does show plenty of green in the make- up but also you can see small traces of the purple here and there and also a wash on some of the petals

Photo: Robert Ashworth - This is a very green specimen
Again this sort of variant can be seen from at least three areas on the Hutton Roof complex.

And below I found one of our helliborines which had just started to open out, covered with black aphids which looked very much like they were receiving much encouragement from the Black Ants which were giving the impression that they were protecting the aphids. Here below is a couple of photos:

Black Aphids, Black Ants on a Broad Leaved Helliborine (Click over photo to enlarge)
I thought perhaps at first the Black Ants were actually feeding on the Black Aphids but I am told that it is more likely that the Ants are actually protecting and farming the aphids so they can then pick up the "milk". As the aphids feed they secrete a sticky honeydew substance which drips on to the lower foliage which then the ants collect.

Another photo of the black aphids and the black ants on the Broad leaved Helliborine (Click over photo to enlarge)
Saw lots of butterflies today Small Tortoiseshell, Speckled Wood, Large Skipper, Common Blues, Meadow Browns, Several Dark Green Fritillaries feeding on the Knapweed, but most of them well worn, some with only part wings. Few Graylings about this year.