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Some snippets of interest (scroll down to see all)
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It looks as if this year will not be very productive for our wasp atlas.  Wasps are very scarce this year, probably a result of the very strange weather over months.  That increases the value of records, dead or alive and from anywhere in Highland, so please check the Wasp Atlas Project and report any finds at all.
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While looking for the Elder Aphid (see below) if you encounter any Honeysuckle check the leaves for the Honeysuckle Rash fungus Lasiobotrys lonicerae.  This is one of our TRY! targets, and featured in the Kew 'Lost and Found Fungi' programme.  All 69 confirmed records on NBN Atlas are in Highland and supplied by HBRG.  The map below shows it is centred around the Black Isle and Moray coast, with outliers in E Sutherland and Strathspey.  The round black shiny 'lumpy' spore bodies are unlike any other lesions on the leaves, and are very easily recognised with a lens.  The fungus is often confined to just one plant in a close group, and they persist on the plants for years.  They can be found throughout July.  Let us know if you find any, preferably with a photograph and a precise grid reference.
 Leaf
Images © Murdo Macdonald.
Map

Map prepared with QGIS
Apothecia close up

Everyone can recognise Elder - especially now as the flowers are so obvious - so when you pass one please check for the Elder Aphid Aphis sambuci which forms dense colonies on the stems (below).  There are only 7 Scottish records on NBN ATlas, all of them, including those in Edinburgh and Dumfries-shire (and even one in Liverpool!), from HBRG members.  They are much in evidence at Foulis Ferry in early July where I found them first in 2020.  The other Highland sites are in Cromarty and Nairn.  All the information you will need is on the Influential Points site.

There must be more to be found in Highland, so see if you can add a dot or few to the map.
     Aphis sambuci colony
© Influential Points.
Aphis sambuci map

The Solomon's Seal Sawfly Phymatocera aterrima has just appeared in my garden where it has trashed the leaves of its food-plant for years without any obvious long-term effects.  It is one of our TRY! targets.  If you find your Solomon's Seal being defoliated over the next few months, look for the voracious larvae on the undersides of the leaves. All records are welcome, but any from the empty spaces especially so.
SSS animated     SSS map


*** Please look out for the Tree Bumblebee! ***
Tree Bumblebee
B. hypnorum is very obvious just now as the workers have emerged and are very much attracted to Raspberry flowers. Please make an effort to check any clumps of wild Raspberry you see for the very distinctive brown/black/white Tree Bumblebee and make sure you report it to us.  A picture would be useful for confirmation.

Records from the north and west of our area are especially welcome as that is now the advancing front of the spread.  Already it has been seen in Dornoch, on the current northern edge of the range in Britain, and spread through W Ross is very likely this year. You can see the amazing spread of this bee in Scotland in this animated map.

© Andre Karnwath.

The expansion of Comma Polygonia c-album in Highlandin 2023 has been astonishing. The animated map below shows the spread in Highland based on records in the public domain (NBN Atlas, iRecord, HBRG).
Comma

© Brian Etheridge
Comma spread

If you know of any Walnut trees please check them for the very obvious galls on the leaves caused by the mite Aceria erinea.  NBN Atlas has only 15 records in Scotland, and we have supplie 7 of them, scattered from Lael in the west to Tain in the east.  I have never found Walnut easy to recognise - it is almost easiest from the galls! Piezodorus lituratus

© Murdo Macdonald
A. erinea map


Keep a lookout when you are putting stuff in your plastic compost bin for the tiny white moth-flies Psychoda sigma.  These appeared in early March in Strathpeffer in the same bin where they were present in numbers last autumn.  Though only a couple of mm long, they are very easy to spot on the underside of the lid, and a lens will reveal the dark Σ mark across the wings which is characteristic of the species.  Some more pictures are here.  We have only two sites in Highland, the other being Raasay, so they are bound to be more widespread.  The records are not yet on the NBN Atlas, and there is only one other Scottish record near Dumfries which, though unconfirmed, is likely to be correct. ***Update*** Another site is Fort William where it was found this year.

If you find any, remember to report the find to us.
Psychoda sigma

© Simon Taylor, CC-BY.

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