Monday, 20 July 2015

Where’s Wally?

Introducing Wally, the little larva of the Small Blue butterfly (Cupido minimus), with its nose buried in the head of a Kidney Vetch flower. A few weeks back, a female carefully laid her egg, rubbed her abdomen over the flower head (to stop any other females having a go) and 1-3 weeks later the egg hatched. Out crawled a tiny 1mm larva to gobble (as much as any 1mm caterpillar can gobble) the developing seeds inside the vetch. It grew and emerged only to plunge its head back into the nutritious flower head. The larvae are now between 5 and 10mm long with their heads buried and their butts permanently exposed. That’s the delicate and highly dignified point we’ve reached in the Small Blue’s life cycle, along the verge of the A41 in Hemel Hempstead.

These seemingly marooned and vulnerable grubs are attended to by ants. Andrew Wood kindly explained that the larvae and pupae produce a honeydew like substance which the ants feed off. In return, they offer some protection against predators.

During a couple of brief visits on Saturday and Sunday, I found 10 exposed butts. Here are 5 of them for a Where’s Wally challenge, starting with the easiest…









3 comments:

  1. Absolutely fascinating post with excellent images. Brilliant stuff!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Steve, thank you for such a kind and encouraging comment. I’m glad you liked the grubs.

      P.S. I’m enjoying your posts on the arable plants. I know almost nothing about them, even their wonderful names are new to my ears!

      Delete
  2. I found him!!! Brilliant pictures and write up. From ARF

    ReplyDelete