Sunday, 9 August 2015

Small Ranunculus Larvae 

For the past 3 weeks I have been searching prickly lettuce plants for Small Ranunculus eggs and larvae. I found the first ones 30, on 29th July at Devon Place at the back of Newport Railway Station. The next day I found 95 in  Shaftesbury in the "wild flower" planted areas near and on the Harlequin Round-about.
Four 2nd instar larvae beside the dual-carriageway flyover in Shaftesbury

Fourth instar larva

Prickly Lettuce plants growing on the Harlequin Roundabout
These plants have now been strimmed - KD, 20th August.

 The following day I found 6 larvae on the round-about at Junction 26 of the M4.

Prickly Lettuce growing at Junction 26 of the M4

One 2nd instar larva

On 5th August I found five 1st instar larvae near The Maltings/ Old Town Dock lock next to the SDR. This was the 3rd time I had searched the plants here in 3 weeks, so I obviously missed the eggs on previous visits. I then found 7 at the side of the Cuckoo Bridge over the South Wales Mainline in Duffryn. There were only about 5 plants growing here, whereas last year there were hundreds. It shows how ephemeral some Prickly Lettuce habitat can be. I then found just five 1st instar larvae at the side of the A48 just west of Junction 28 of the M4. There were hundreds of plants growing here, but so few larvae.
Today, 9th August, I cycled to Walnut Tree Farm, St Brides. There were about 10 plants growing next to the car park ,but no eggs or larvae. Last year I found several here. Plants in Nash and Goldcliff I have searched, also had none.
If you see any prickly lettuce, its well looking for Small Ranunculus eggs and larvae. The eggs are a pinky-orange colour which blends in with the young flower buds and also solidified sap that has oozed from the plant. The larvae can be pale brown as well as green. It normally grows in freshly disturbed soil, "waste ground" or at the edge of pavements, car parks where it has escaped the attention of strimmers or spraying with herbicides. There are several other species of wild lettuce, such as Greater Prickly Lettuce and Wall Lettuce, but I have never found Small Ranunculus on these.
Small Ranunculus is a Biodiversity Action Plan Species for the City of Newport.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent finds Kevin, you've been busy. Stuck in traffic on the M4 last week, I noticed a lot of Prickly Lettuce on the central reservation between J23 and J24. I tried to look for larvae from the car but was never stationary for quite long enough! George


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