30 Days Wild 2019 – Day Twenty-four.

twt-30-days-wild_countdown_24Day 24: For the last Close Up Monday of 2019’s 30 Days Wild, I am focusing on dragonflies.

My interest was piqued after reading that these large, colourful insects spend most of their larval stage in water. When they emerge as adults they shed their exoskeleton and are found clinging to nearby foliage for two hours whilst they pump blood into their wings for flight.

There are three stages to the life cycle of a dragonfly: egg, nymph and adult.

life-cycle-of-a-dragonfly-coloring-pageegg: mating occurs whilst flying and afterwards the female will lay her eggs on or near water.

nymph: or larvae is the longest stage of the dragonfly life cycle and can take up to four years. During this time the nymph is aquatic and eats other nymphs.

adult: once the time and conditions are right the nymph will crawl out of the water and shed it’s exoskeleton or exuvia, whilst resting on a plant. On the wing they look for food (they are voracious hunters) and to mate (to begin the cycle again). The lifespan of an adult is two months.

There are 23 species of dragonfly in the UK. Along with damselflies, dragonflies are of the Odonata order, meaning ‘toothed jaws. Both species have four sets of wings. Dragonflies can beat each pair of wings together or separately, and can fly at almost 30mph. They breathe through spiracles in the side of the abdomen. Dragonflies predate on flies, mosquitoes, bees and butterflies. Dragonflies have the largest eyes of the insect world and 80% of their brain is devoted to vision.

It was during the hot summer of 2018 when I saw the most dragonflies.

Have you seen any dragonflies this year? What’s your favourite?

Thanks for reading, and stay wild!

Christine x


Further Reading:

The Wildlife Trusts

The Woodland Trust

British Dragonflies

Animal Corner

YPTE Factsheet

Dragonfly Site

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30 Days Wild 2018 – Day Twenty-five

twt-30-days-wild_countdown_25Day 25: Today’s Close Up Monday is all about goldfinches.

This colourful finch has been on the increase in the UK, mainly due to changes in feeding habits, enjoying seeds from garden feeders. They ranked #6 in the 2018 RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch.

A very sociable bird, in autumn they flock in charms of 100+.

They predominantly eat seeds (sunflower and niger among others) but also eat aphids. Males are the only ones who can access the seeds from teasel heads. In Victorian times they were captured in their thousands for caged displays. They can have up to three broods a year and nest in trees and bushes.

In the past my yarden has attracted charms of some 20+ birds. Do you have any goldfinches visiting your feeders? They are such pretty birds.

Thanks for reading, and stay wild!

Christine x

30 Days Wild 2018 – Day Four.

download (1)Day 4: Mondays in June will become Close Up Mondays. Where I pick an insect, mammal, bird or amphibian and get up close and intimate.

Today’s Close Up is with the cellar spider, (pholcidae), most commonly (or incorrectly named) daddy long legs. I found this little guy while vaccuming the dinning room. He was proudly sitting on a web in a dark corner of the room.

Cellar spiders are part of a sub family of arachnids called Araneomorphae which mean they have fangs that cross in a pinching mechanism! There are around 1,500 different species in this family and are found all over the world except Antarctica.

cellar spider

They are fragile looking arachnids, with a small body of 2-10mm in length, with legs 50mm long. TarantulaDan‘s video informs that they predate on other spiders webs, even killing the original inhabitant by vibrating and mimicking trapped prey! Who would have guessed that such a delicate looking spider could be a web stealer! Therefore their diet consists of mainly other spiders and their offspring.

They are harmless to humans.

Needless to say the spider in question was captured in a glass and released into the yarden.

What are your thoughts on spiders such as the cellar spider?

Thanks for reading, and stay wild!

Christine x