Flowering May-July. Tuberous perennial. Native.
Flowers usually white, pink or purple. (Ssp. coccinea has reddish flowers.)
Narrow, cylindrical flower-spike, lower bracts longer than flowers. Sides of lip strongly reflexed, weakly 3-lobed, 2 U-shaped loops enclosing dotted patches. Leaves erect, keeled, usually unspotted. (Ssp. cruenta, leaves spotted both sides) Hollow stem. Very variable, links to subspecies below. Identifications by Ian Denholm
Damp calcareous soils, meadows, fens, marshes, dune-slacks. Also slightly acidic bogs, damp heaths. Declining due to habitat loss.
The Evening Light
Angels their silvery trumpets blow,
At dawn, to greet the Morning Glow,
And mortals lift adoring eyes
To see the glorious sun arise.
Then, winged by Faith, and spurred by Hope
Youth scans the hill, youth scales the slope.
Its pulses bound, its thoughts exult,
It finds no danger difficult,
Quickens its pace, disdaining ease
Victor before it comes and sees,
Feeling the Universe its own,
The Sovereign of a Self—made Throne.
Each hope fulfilled, obtained each prayer,
We glory in the Noonday Glare.
Welcome the blinding heat of strife,
Deeming resistance part of life.
We deal the blow, return the stroke,
Fighting our way through dust and smoke,
Until, our battle—banner furled,
We tower above a conquered World;
Whether one leads mankind along
By gift of speech or grace of song,
Seizes by forceful hand the helm,
Or adds an Empire to the Realm,
Confronts the sun with forehead bare,
Exulting in the Noonday Glare.
But, as the lengthening shadows glide
Silent towards the eventide,
And dew baptizes leaf and flower
In twilight’s sanctuary hour,
A sacred Something haunts the air,
Tender as love, devout as prayer,
And in the lofty dome afar
Glimmers one bright outriding star,
Announcing to the watchful sight
Coming battalions of the Night.
Then Noonday Glare and Morning Glow
Fade into shadowy Long—ago.
One feels Earth’s vain ambitions fade
Into the vanished dust they made.
All that the glow of dawn foretold,
And all the glare of noon unrolled,
Seem nothing to the quiet joy
No clamour mars, no cares destroy,
‘Twixt restless day and restful night,
That cometh with the Evening Light.
Hairy Wood Ants (Formica lugubris) photographic project
Over the last few years I been involved working on a project around county Tipperary,Ireland involving photographing nests of Irish Wood Ants (Formica lugubris), this has been one of the most interesting photo project I have ever worked on.
The images in this post are captured between 2014 and 2017 ….
These Ants are on the international endangered species list and exist in locations that are kept reasonably private, just to find and get to see these nests themselves is a task and an amazing feeling.
When you get closer to the nests for the first time you will notice just how large they are (3 feet off the ground) and how many Ants that each colony contains, each nest can hold tens of thousands of Ants, the entire surface of the nest is on the move with Ants coming and going from small entrance holes. This flow of movement is 24 hours long during the months that the Ants are active.
They create a clear trail through the woods as they clear a path, traveling both outwards from the nest and returning again with food for the Queen Ant living deep in the ground under the nest itself.
It is thought she lives in a protected area some two meters underground.
In order to protect themselves and nest with its queen, they can shoot out acid some four feet from their bodies.
I will be working on this project most of this summer and look forward to each return, watching these wonderful Wood Ants is an amazing experience and working around them with a camera is great fun.
In the Garden at eight am
I witness the end of Springtime
flowers of green, blue and purple
falling all over the table top
I place my cup of tea down
a moment frozen, soon moves on
as more of these blooms fall all around me
soon it will be summer time
clearly the flowers know, against all hope !
time moves on
never pausing for anyone ……
Hover Flies, such as the this one above, look at the world in quite a different way than humans do. The structure and function of a flies eye are completely different from ours, and so they see shapes, motion and color differently. Flies are also able to see light in a way humans cannot.
Structure of a Compound Eye
Compound eyes are made up of thousands of individual visual receptors, called ommatidia. Each ommatidium is a functioning eye in itself, and thousands of them together create a broad field of vision for the fly. Each ommatidium is a long, thin structure, with the lens on the outer surface of the eye, tapering to a nerve at the eye’s base. When the ommatidium receives light, it is filtered through the lens, then a crystalline cone structure, pigment cells and visual cells. Every ommatidium has its own nerve fiber connecting to the optic nerve, which relays information to the flies brain.
Flies Can’t Focus
A human’s eye is attached to muscles that allow it to move, expanding the field of vision and making it possible for the eye to gather more information about its surroundings. Instead of moving their eyes, flies receive information from several different points simultaneously. A flies eyes are immobile, but because of their spherical shape and protrusion from the flies head they give the fly an almost 360-degree view of the world. In a human eye, the pupil controls how much light comes into it, which is focused by the lens onto the retina. The retina then relays information to the brain via the optic nerve. Because fly eyes have no pupils they cannot control how much light enters the eye. With no control over how much light passes through the lens, the fly cannot focus the image it sees. Flies are also short-sighted — a visible range of a few yards is considered good for an insect.
The Mosaic Effect
The best analogy to describe a flies vision is to compare it to a mosaic — thousands of tiny images convalesce, and together represent one visual image. Each one of these pictures represents information from the fly’s individual ommatidium. The effect is much like how we see stippling or newspaper print — up close the image is a lot of tiny dots, but take a step back and it’s a complete image. The more ommatidia a compound eye contains, the clearer the image it creates.
There’s a reason why flies are especially jumpy creatures that take off at the slightest flinch. A flies vision is nowhere near as clear or effective as a human’s, but it’s especially good at picking up form and movement. As an object moves across the fly’s field of view the ommatidia fire and stop firing. This is called a flicker effect. It’s similar to how a scrolling marquis works — with lights turning on and off to give the illusion of motion. Because a fly can easily see motion and form, but not necessarily what the large moving object is, they are quick to flee, even if the moving object is harmless.
Flies have limited color vision. Each color has its own wave frequency, but flies have only two kinds of color receptor cells. This means they have trouble distinguishing between colors, for instance discerning between yellow and white. Insects cannot see the color red, which is the lowest color frequency humans can see. However, houseflies have the ability to see polarized light, but humans cannot differentiate between polarized and unpolarized light. Polarized light is light in which the waves travel only in one plane.
Wolf Spiders are members of the family Lycosidae. They are so named because their method of hunting is to run down their prey like that of a wolf. Wolf Spiders are robust and agile hunters that rely on good eyesight to hunt, typically at night. Wolf Spiders resemble nursery web spiders (family Pisauridae), however, they carry their egg sacs by attaching them to their spinnerets (instead of by means of their jaws and pedipalps).
Wolf spider Characteristics
Wolf Spiders range from about half an inch to 2 inches in length. They are hairy and typically brown to grey in colour with a distinct Union Jack impression on their backs. The spiders undersides are light grey, cream or black, sometimes salmon pink.
Wolf Spiders have eight eyes arranged in three rows. The bottom row consists of four small eyes, the middle row has two very large eyes and the top row has two medium-sized eyes.
Wolf Spiders depend on their good eyesight to hunt. Their sense of touch is also acute. The sides of their jaws may have a small raised orange spot or ‘boss’.
Because they depend on camouflage for protection, Wolf Spiders do not have the flashy appearance of some other kinds of spiders. In general their colouration is appropriate to their favoured habitat.
Wolf Spiders eyes reflect light well and one way of finding them is to hunt at night using a flashlight strapped to ones forehead so that the light from the light is reflected from their eyes directly back toward its source.
Wolf spider Habitat and Webs
Wolf spiders can be found in a wide range of habitats both coastal and inland. These include shrub lands, woodland, wet coastal forest, alpine meadows and suburban gardens.
Wolf spiders are commonly known as household pests as when the weather starts getting colder, they look for warm places to overwinter in homes. Wolf Spiders are commonly found around doors, windows, house plants, basements, garages and in almost all terrestrial habitats. Wolf Spiders do not spin a web, instead, they roam at night to hunt for food. Wolf spiders are often confused with the Brown Recluse spider, however, they lack the violin-shaped marking of the Recluse. The wolf spider is shy and is most likely to run away when disturbed.
Wolf spider Diet
Two Wolf spider species are known to be predators of cane toads. Lycosa lapidosa will take small toads and frogs while Lycosa obscuroides has been noted biting and killing a large toad within one hour.
Wolf spider Reproduction
Mating takes place outside the females burrow at night. Some adult male Wolf spiders of smaller-sized species are known to disperse by air in order to find mates. The male is attracted by scent markings left by the female, often associated with her drag-line silk. Males perform a courtship ritual prior to mating, often involving complex leg and palp signaling to the female.
The female Wolf spider constructs an egg sac of white papery silk, shaped like a ball with an obvious circular seam, which she then carries around attached with strong silk to her spinnerets. When the spiderlings hatch, they are carried around on the females back until they are ready to disperse by ballooning or on the ground. Such a high degree of parental care is relatively unusual among spiders. Wolf spiders live for up to 2 years.
Wolf spider Venom
The Wolf Spider is not aggressive, however, it will inject venom freely if continually provoked. Symptoms of its venomous bite include swelling, mild pain and itching. Though usually considered harmless to humans, its bite may be painful.