A warmer (though not especially pleasant) day had me reaching for the macro and searching the garden for solitary bees and hoverflies. Neither was to be found, which is a bit depressing given that experience over the past few years has led me to expect the season for both to be under way by now. But we are where we are, and as I said last week during the return of the snow, at least I don't have to worry that they've emerged too early and are now in danger of freezing. My bigger fear at the moment is that the fierce weather we had here during December and January may have killed some of their nests, but only time will tell about that.
Having failed with the Hymenoptera and Syrphids, my next project was to see what I could tap gently out of its winter roost, without beating too hard or reaching too deeply into the foliage. I was delighted to dislodge a couple of these Issus coleoptratus nymphs, which were among my most exciting garden finds of last year so it was especially pleasing to see that they'd come through the winter. Both came out of the ivy along the sheltered fence between our conservatory and our neighbours' house wall, which is where I first found them last November. Both were returned to the same place, and this one paused obligingly to give me this photo opportunity before pinging back under cover.
As I said in this post, this planthopper has a very long nymphal life, and like all the specimens I found back in the autumn today's were mid-instar nymphs. But this one was more noticeable and seemed a little bigger than the others, and it appears to have fewer sensory pits on its wing buds, so though I may be kidding myself, I think it has possibly progressed a stage. I'll be very pleased with myself if I manage to turn up an adult one day.
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