Saturday, 19 August 2017

Pugs

Double-striped Pug, Gymnoscelis rufifasciata.  Luxford Lane, Crowborough, 2 August 2017.
Double-striped Pug, Gymnoscelis rufifasciata.  Luxford Lane, Crowborough, 2 August 2017.
Pugs are a group of small moths, most of them in the tribe Eupitheciini of the family Geometridae, that mostly look very similar to each other.  When thinking of how to describe and identify them, the phrase "stare until your eyes drop out of your head" came to mind.  Because mostly, the differences are very subtle, but can often be quite distinct if you can become aware of them.

This Double-striped Pug is one of the easiest, particularly when fresh.  Though please note, it has many more than two stripes.

Foxglove Pug, Eupithecia pulchellata.  Luxford Lane, Crowborough, 29 June 2017.
Foxglove Pug, Eupithecia pulchellata.  Luxford Lane, Crowborough, 29 June 2017.
In fact this Foxglove Pug is sometimes mistaken for it for that reason.

There's a saying that goes something like "If you hear hoofbeats, expect horses, not zebras."  (A variation of Occam's Razor.)  Well, that works fine if I am hearing "clip-clop" sounds from outside my house.  But if I were on the Serengeti, I would have to re-cast that saying completely.  Also, back to the world of moths, if you see only what you expect to see, you can miss some interesting rarities.

And since I moved house, I don't even know what I should expect to see.  I have seen three pugs here that never turned up at Hayes.

Freyer's Pug, Eupithecia intricata subsp. arceuthata.  Luxford Lane, Crowborough, 2 June 2017.
Freyer's Pug, Eupithecia intricata subsp. arceuthata.  Luxford Lane, Crowborough, 2 June 2017.
Freyer's Pug, with elongated wing spots (many pugs have these) and rows of fine lines on the wings.

Haworth's Pug, Eupithecia haworthiata. Luxford Lane, Crowborough, 17 July 2017.
Haworth's Pug, Eupithecia haworthiata. Luxford Lane, Crowborough, 17 July 2017.
Haworth's Pug, with an orange body.

Currant Pug, Eupithecia assimilata.  Luxford Lane, Crowborough, 13 August 2017.
Currant Pug, Eupithecia assimilata.  Luxford Lane, Crowborough, 13 August 2017.
And a Currant Pug, with much bigger dark wing spots and a more chestnut coloration than many pugs (and there are many pugs).

OK, those were easy, really.  Here are some I have encountered over the last few years.

Common Pug, Eupithecia vulgata.  Hayes, 1 June 2016.
Common Pug, Eupithecia vulgata.  Hayes, 1 June 2016.
 Common Pug.  We are encouraged to learn this one because it is "easy" ...

Mottled Pug, Eupithecia exiguata. Hayes, 28 May 2012.
Mottled Pug, Eupithecia exiguata. Hayes, 28 May 2012.
Mottled Pug.  I find this hard to distinguish from the next one:

Brindled Pug, Eupithecia abbreviata. Hayes, 25 May 2012.
Brindled Pug, Eupithecia abbreviata. Hayes, 25 May 2012.
The Brindled Pug.  I really hope I ave those last three right, because I am not very confident in identifying them, so if anyone thinks I am mistaken, please say.

At this point I will just add in this one:

Unidentified melanic pug, Eupithecia species.  Hayes on 5 August 2012.
Unidentified melanic pug, Eupithecia species.  Hayes on 5 August 2012.
Some species have melanic forms, dark-winged with no identifying features, though the wing outline gives a clue in some cases.  Most of these need to be dissected for a proper identification.

Next time: more pugs, all of them easier to identify than those last four.



Tuesday, 8 August 2017

The Trees (that were) In The Knoll

Fallen Horse-chestnut in The Knoll, Hayes.  8 June 2017.
Fallen Horse-chestnut in The Knoll, Hayes.  8 June 2017.
Making occasional trips back to Hayes while selling my old house there.  So while there, I have been looking in on The Knoll, my nearest local park, to see how it is getting on.

Here's what I saw early in June.  This is a Horse-chestnut tree that I knew was full of debilitating fungus.  Shown here: Two Weak Horse-chestnuts. It's the tree on the left in the first photo, also shown near the bottom of that post.

Fallen Horse-chestnut in The Knoll, Hayes.  8 June 2017.
Fallen Horse-chestnut in The Knoll, Hayes.  8 June 2017.
Here's a close-up of the torn trunk.  All of the wood is weak.  The colour shows that the lignin has gone, eaten by the fungus.  This is called white rot, and is known to be caused by (among others) the Dryad's Saddle fungus that was growing on the tree and fruiting so profusely.

So what about the other fungus-infested Horse-chestnut, which was under notice of being monolithed?

Horse-chestnut stump in The Knoll, Hayes.  25 July 2017.
Horse-chestnut stump in The Knoll, Hayes.  25 July 2017.
The next time I visited The Knoll, this was it.  This severe treatment is probably just as well.  The Ganoderma that riddled this tree also causes white rot, and so does the Oyster Mushroom that was also growing on it.  And the Silverleaf fungus I saw on it last year is also a serious tree-killer.

Horse-chestnut stump in The Knoll, Hayes.  25 July 2017.
Horse-chestnut stump in The Knoll, Hayes.  25 July 2017.
The fallen tree had also been tidied up, as had the branch of the tree further on that had been knocked off when the Horse-chestnut fell.

This park has a continuing issue with fungus infections in trees.  A big beech fell in 2013; here's an article I wrote for the Orpington Field Club website: The Giant Polypore and its Consequences.  White rot again.  It's not that the park management don't pay attention. It's that they seem to take action just a bit too late! That they have previously got there in time is shown by this monolithed oak tree further down the slope.

Monolithed oak tree in The Knoll, Hayes, 25 July 2017.
Monolithed oak tree in The Knoll, Hayes, 25 July 2017.
That has clearly never blown over.  Also, a fence has recently been built around a veteran pollarded oak nearer the top of the park, probably because people have sometimes set fires in the hollow core of the tree.

Fence around pollarded veteran oak in The Knoll, Hayes, 25 July 2017.
Fence around pollarded veteran oak in The Knoll, Hayes, 25 July 2017.
I don't think it's very effective, though.  The school tie on the fence is probably an indication of the cause of that missing paling, which has left a stretch of wire which could easily be climbed over. 

This tree still looks strong, but it has an infection of Laetiporus sulphureus, Chicken of the Woods, which is a tasty edible fungus but which causes a brown cubical rot which can be just as weakening as white rot.  I have photos .. here's one from 2012 ..

Chicken of the Woods, Laetiporus sulphureus, on a veteran oak in The Knoll Hayes.  25 September 2012.
Chicken of the Woods, Laetiporus sulphureus, on a veteran oak in The Knoll Hayes.  25 September 2012.
You can see the brown rot showing where the burnt areas have broken off.  With luck it will only have affected the centre wood, helping to hollow out the tree and leaving the strong outer wood whole.  Trees like this can remain strong and resilient.  But what with this park's history, I think the locals(*) will have to keep an eye on this one ....

(*) Not me any more.