The rain today put paid to any outside activities so I would like to recount something that I came across on the reserve mid-year.
Wondering around I happened to look up and see the above web in a tree, my immediate thought was what sort of tree spider would build such a strange web ? ...... I was intrigued.
I searched the web without any luck and in so doing came across the details of the Royal Entomological Society at St Albans so I sent a copy of the image to them on the off chance that they would respond and basically forgot about it.
Several days later I received an e-mail from a Professor Jim Hardie, Director of Science at the Society and a dialogue commenced, what habitat, what tree species etc etc.
I have never been very good with tree identification although I was pretty confident it was a willow ( to the left of the Heronry Hide ) so on my next visit I got some leaves, photographed them and sent the image off to Prof. Jim.
The response was quite a surprise, the web was not a spiders but a caterpillars !
'' Hi John, It seems very likely that your webbing was produced by caterpillars of the willow ermine moth, Yponomeuta rorrella. It’s a pretty little moth and http://ukmoths.org.uk/show.php?bf=428 gives some information.
Professor Jim Hardie,
Director of Science, Royal Entomological Society ''.
What a great end to the story, I thanked Prof. Jim profusely for his time, interest and efforts, a thoroughly rewarding exchange with a very capable academic and his team.