Hide Articles List

11 articles on this Page



THE NATURALISTS' CORNER (BY J. B. & G. -II.-H. Following our brief remarks last week, we wish in this issue to give a short account of some of the opportunities inhabitants of the town have of study- ing the wild life which surrounds tlieni. Many of our reader, only want a start, and given that start would show a keen interest in working up the countv records in natural history. Botanical and entomological specimens flourish around us in all the wild extravagance of nature. Manv entomological specimens have been taken in the last few weeks which have not previously been recorded for the county. Manv places might be taken to show the profusion of natural objects. About Llanllwch may be seen fivino- such insects as the Marbled White Butterfly, the Grayling, and the Pearl Bordered Fntillary. Close bv might be seen the commoner buttertiies- the Red Admiral, Peacock. Painted Lady. Common Blue and Small Copper. These are always to be met with at this time of the year. One might also meet with the Brimstone Butterfly. Ouly a few weeks a^o there might have been obtained near this place hundreds of Marsh or Greasy Fntillary. and common Heath Moths. Again, the Speckled-wood Butterfly and the Ringlet are no strangers to this district. The three Common Whites, and the Common Meadow Brown are also quite common. Here too mav be found what may be considered a raritv for South Wales-the Brown Hairstrea^ Orange" Tip Butterflies, the Large, the Dingy, and the Grizzled Skippers, the Wall and the Laige a,nd Small Heath Butterflies may be seen in profusion on any.warm day. Nor are the moths less plentiful Of the Hawk Moth« the Large Elephant, and the Prnet Hawk Moths are found. The Five and Six Spot Burnets are no strangers to these parts, neither are examples of the Forester. Two specimens of the Tigers fie- •auent the*e parts—the Common Tiger and the Cream Spot Tiger. The Fox Moths, Drinkers, Lackey- and the Oak Eggars make these fields their homes; while the Buff^Tip is very common. At dusk. about the hedges, such moths ag the Herald, Silver Y, Early Thorn. Oak Beauty. Large Fmerald various Garnets, the Blood Vein, moth the Magpie. Lesser ^lagpie, Clouded Border and the Snmll Phoenix. Numerous others might be quoted. Cntil a short time ago it was thought that the Common Heath was a stranger to.this ^hty (the nearest place it has been captured at b^in^ Pen dine) A few weeks ago hundreds of these moths were seen 'at Llanllwch and Llangunnock. There are be- sides the moths and butterflies mentioned numerous caterpillars, which will eventually supply perfect moth3- On June 18th and July 21st two specimens of the Green Horn Moth were taken. This moth, which is just a little larger than the common Clothes Moth is verv interesting on account of the size of its Their antennse or feelers are about five times the length of their body, and are of a light greenish tinge. It is easy to recognise this moth when it is on the wing, for its antennae glitter at each movement the moth makes. It is often seen fanning its wings, which are of a dark brown colour, while at rest on an oak leaf. The moth can be taken at light and also by beating the herbage at dusk. Some speciments of the insect have been taken near the kennels, but various other localities seem to be frequented by this Adela. Along the heath near the railway, the Adder, the Grass or Ringed Snake, and the Slow Worm may be found. The Viper has made quite a home for itself here, some attaining a length of twenty-two inches. One adder was taken this year which had its two fangs on one side of the mouth, one im- mediately behind the other. It may be mentioned here that the Adder, or Viper, is the only poisonous British snake. There are two varieties to be found —the Common and the Red Viper. The markings on both are similar in form, the colour only differ- ing, that of the Common being from sepia to black, while in the Red the markings are of brick colour. The Red Viper rarely grows more than a foot in length. Both these varieties are to be found in the Llanllwch district. The Grass or Ringed Snake, although very formid- able in appearance, is quite harmless, although when handled or frightened it is capable of exuding through its skin a substance very offensive to the smell, and which, if it gets on the hands will necessitate many washings before the smell is entirely removed. Weasels and hedgehogs find their home here, and even a badger has been seen in the wood close by. Pond life in the same way is full of interest. In the stream near Llanllwch the larvae of tne Dragon Fly and Caddis Fly may be found. Newts and Voles are not uncommon, while along the hedges several lizards may be found. The same district forms a prolific field for the botanist. From year's end to year's end interesting finds mav be made. Even in December the furze bushes make a fine sight. On Christmas Day last year several specimens of the Barren Strawberry were seen. and near here was found in the beginning of February a Buttercup. To give anything like a complete list of the flowers would be beyond the scope of this article. To give some idea of the profusion, last week over one hundred different specimens were taken between the Ystrad and Green Castle. Along the railway side the Wild Garlic make its presence known. The Greater Celandine, Cowslip, White Wild Hyacinth, and Ling, are to be seen in bloom here, as well as Succory, the Rose Bay Willow herb (mentioned last week). and Goat's Beard. Perhaps the wealth of plant life gives us a solution to the wealth of insects, which spend their early days be- fore metamorphosis upon them. Along the hedges may be seen the Wild Apple, Wild Cherry, and Sallow. These are of great interest to the entomologist, as they attract numer- ous insects. On the Marsh near here the Insectivorous Family are represented by the Sundew and Bladderwort. Insectivorous plants usually grow in soils poor in nitrogen; thev therefore get their extra nitrogen from the dead bodies of insects they capture by means of special apparatus generally developed in connection with the leaf. In the sundew the leaves are covered with delicate red filaments largest at the edges; there are about 200 on a single leaf. Each filament bears at its extremity a gland which secretes a sticky substance which the insect mistakes for honey. As an insect alights on the leaf the tentacles bend inwards, the tentacle that is first irritated being the one to move first; then the movement is set up in the whole fringe of tentacles, and the insect cannot escape. The secretion of juico by the tentacles is increased as soon as tho insect touches them. The juice is acid, r and by means of it the nitrogenous substances present in the insect's body are digested. If an in- sect is caught by a marginal tentacle, it is gradually transported to the middle of the leaf where the digestive fluid is poured out in the greatest quantity. Digestion takes at least a couple of days; the ten- tacles remain bent during this period, and the leaf more or less curled up. When digestion is com- plete, the tentacles straighten themselves and the leaf unfolds. The bladderwort is abundant in little pools of .till water. Here the trap takes the form of a bladder developed instead of leaves on some thread- like stems. Each bladder has a valve which opens inwards. An insect pressing against it pushes it in, but as soon as the insect has entered the bladder, and it is no longer pressing against the valve, the elesticity of the valve makes it spring back and close I'C the opening. The insect cannot then make its escape. What attracts the insect is unknown. Kerner suggests that it may be to tind lood, or it may be seeking shelter from other insects. The fact that only very small insects can enter the bladder seems to indicate that they are seeking refuge from larger insects. The bladder is lined I with cells especially adapted for absorbing the products of the decaying body. Another plant which makes its home in these parts is the Narrow Leaf Bog Cotton, which may be easily recognised by the tuft of cotton on a long etalk. The Bog Asphodel and the Bog Bean are also found here, the latter with its beautiful three- foliate leaves and graceful white or pink flowers being perhaps the most beautiful of all British wild flowers. Manv splendid ferns are also to be obtained hcre- When all these beauties of nature are so common in the neighbourhood, it is very remarkable that so very few lads take any interest in what they find on a country ramble. By many people, the naturalist who works the country with his vasculum or net is considered a crank. Perhaps it is needless to say he derives pleasure and benefit from what he pees and hears. If more young people devoted their time to the study of nature we would have less ignorance concerning natural objects, and would also obtain a clearer knowledge of them, for at present there is still a great deal to be found out as regards the county f specimens both in the branches of Botany and Entomology.






[No title]