Two days in. It’s easy to find new ways to connect with nature in Cornwall, so for my last day here I decided to go in search of some of the Lizard Peninsula’s smallest inhabitants. The Lizard is a Mecca for the amatuer naturalist and professional alike. Its ecology is rare, stunning and unique.
The Lizard Peninsula, mainland UK’s most southerly point, arose from the sea 375 million years ago. It’s rock is a unique, blood red form of serpentine. This fascinating spit of land is home to more than 250 species of scientific importance. Rare butterflies can be found here along with plants that grow nowhere else in the world. I went in search of some of the colourful characters that enjoy the diverse plant life of the peninsula, near the point where the serpentine of the Lizard joins the granite of Cornwall at Predannack Wollas.
Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus)
On a granite hedge, covered in flowers, I found a number of common blue butterflies. These little fellas fly from early April to mid October, although these are the first I’ve seen this year. They seem to love the heathland flowers. In London, I’ve seen a lot of holly blues, but no common blues yet. These tiny butterflies are a joy to watch, becoming even more stunning when their wings are closed.
Large Skipper (Ochlodes venatus)
I only saw the one large skipper, thought that fits with their flight period of late May to early September. This chap must be one of the earlier flyers. Moths have never been my favourite, only because they tend to enjoy flying in your face. Recently however I’ve become fascinated by them. Last year, I saw a hawk moth. The size of the thing was pretty terrifying, almost as large as a bat. This little orangey brown species was much less threatening.
Cinnamon Bug (Corizus Hyoscani)
Similar in appearance to the rare firebug, but indeed much more common, this striking little number can be found along the coast of southern Britain. I was drawn to it by the blood red colour of its wings. A stunning little bug.
Sand Wasp (Ammophila sabulosa)
I do not like wasps at all. Even though this fellow doesn’t wear the tell tale stripes of your common wasp, he did carry himself in a similarly aggressive fashion. I watched as he popped himself in and out of a hole in the ground, buzzing fiercely as he did so. A good looking wasp, no doubt, but he’s still not getting much love from me.
False Oil Beetle (Oedemra nobilis)
At first I struggled to identify this pearlescent, emerald creepy crawly. My book shows a yellowish creature and states that is is common. Common? How could something so incredibly colourful and alien looking be common? It is however Oedemra nobilis, and a fine specimen at that. The larvae of this species develop in the old stems of plants like ragwort. The one I found is male. The female is a duller, yellowish green.
Sloe Bug (Dolycoris baccarum)
I adore shield bugs. Their name couldn’t be more appropriate with their painted shields, separating each species. This is the first time I’ve seen a sloe bug. It did a good job of blending into the flower it was feeding from.
I’ve saved the best for last. Even after half an hour of painstaking identification, I cannot confidently say which species of clearwing moth this is. Looking at their distribution, I’d say currant clearwing, but looking at the colourings I’m not sure. I think the colourings are closer to sallow or welsh clearwings, but the distributions don’t match. Perhaps this is a Lizard clearwing, the first of its kind. That is, after all, the dream… to discover a new species.
Do you know which species of clearwing this is?
Update: It’s a Thrift Clearwing (Pryopteron muscaeformis)
Thanks to @Britnatureguide for the ID!
Another day, another wild encounter. Tomorrow I’ll be back in the wilds of South London, looking for life in the smoke filled bubble that millions of us call our home. Perhaps in my absence, the Parakeets will have emptied my feeders and made themselves a home on my window ledge.
Subscribe for more like this.
Share with someone who likes bugs.
Follow me on Twitter @WillPenrose