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Anyphaena sabina
find out more... Anyphaena sabina female2 Copyright: P.R. Harvey

Essex Field Club
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Essex Field Club

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EFC Centre at Wat Tyler Country ParkWe are closed due to the Covid-19 situation, but we are otherwise normally open to the public at our centre at Wat Tyler Country Park every Saturday, Sunday and bank holiday 11am-4pm, check. We are also normally open on Wednesdays 10am-4pm.

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This forum has now been more or less replaced by the Club's Facebook page at
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The weblog below is for naturalists to use to report interesting sightings, ask questions, report on field meetings and generally post pictures and any information or questions generally relevant in some way to the wildlife and geology of Essex. You will need to register and be logged-on to post to the forum, and you need to upload pictures first, for use in posts. Find out more

Wed 24th July 2013 17:27 by Graham Smith
Mystery in the Garden
Mary has asked me to post this photograph on the forum with the accompanying email to me regarding it.

Mystery Object Copyright: Graham Smith

Attached is a picture of two shrivelled leaves from my drought-stricken small Prunus cultivar in our front garden. The white pieces on the leaves look at first sight like bird droppings, but on closer inspection they are white cottony stuff, in separate pieces all about the same size, a few mm long. On closer inspection they are lightly grooved, like icing from a fluted funnel.  Each bit has a small area that is light brown. It is not a fungus. I would love to know what animal made this, and what for.

I wrote back suggesting the following :

I have consulted my Encyclopedia of Gardening and the most likely thing I can come up with is the egg mass of some kind of Scale Insect. These resemble the white cotton wool-like material you describe and since you emailed me I have seen similar leaf damage on a Wild Cherry near my home. The ‘cotton wool’ is the eggs, not a material covering them. Have you had any better offers?

But then Mary replied :

I have used my microscope and I can find only fine wiggly tangled threads using x40 and x200.  No sign of any eggs or other animal parts. I am still baffled. Please would you be able to post my pic and most of my text on My Forum?

Which I have now done. We appear to be no further forward. It is not a fungus, a mould or a mildew; nor the eggs of an insect, Scale, or otherwise. So what is it? Any ideas the two Peters?



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