Sunday, 18 October 2015
It’s been a while since my last post however, my time ‘away’ has been very enjoyable….I’ll let you into a little secret…I’ve had an affair!…yup, I’ve been smitten!…I’ve fallen in love with BUGS…insects, creepy crawlies…call them what you will. There’s around 24,000 species of insect in the UK and Ireland and, apart from the more obvious species like butterflies,moths and dragonflies etc., I’ve not really ‘noticed’ them before, just now and then taking a cursory glance (and maybe a photo!) at the odd one or two sitting obligingly on a leaf or grass stem, but over the last three or so months I’ve become fascinated by how diverse they are in colour, shape and behavior…I’ve also enjoyed the challenge of getting any sort of decent photographs. I’ve spent many a happy hour(?) peering into various sorts of bushes and undergrowth and it’s suffice to say that insects are very adept at flying, jumping, running, hiding, playing dead and have many other ways and means of avoiding the intrusion of that large glass eye!!)
Getting a decent photograph is only the first hurdle, getting a correct ID can become an even bigger challenge. There’s not much info out there regarding books and the internet to help with the ID of the ‘lesser’ known species.
Anyway..enough of the waffle here’s a few images (and even fewer words!) hopefully showing how diverse some of the wonderful bugs that I’ve fallen in love with can be!!
One of the largest (apart from the previously mentioned Dragonflies/Butterflies) ….
Roesel’s Bush Cricket ♀ Metrioptera roeselii Up to 26mm long, one of the13 species of Bush Cricket found in the UK.
One of the hairiest….
Hairy Shieldbug Dolycoris baccarum Mostly found in the southern half of the UK, this is one of the 37 species of (UK) Shieldbugs, it can grow up to 13mm long.
One of the crop growers enemies….
A Wireworm..the larval stage of one of the UK and Irelands 73 Click Beetle species. As a larva it lives in the soil for up to 3 years and reaches a length of 20-25mm where it feeds on the roots of various plants such as corn and potatoes with the ultimate destruction of the crop.
One of the most strangest looking….
Acorn Weevil Curcullio glandium One of the UK’s 613 species of Weevil, found mostly on Oak trees were the larva develops inside the acorns. It has a body length of about 8mm.
One of the most annoying….
German Wasp Vespula germanica One of Britain’s 4 species of black and yellow social wasps…although they would appear to be anything but ‘social’ when they induce that (amusing?) arm waving, hip hopping dance often seen at picnics and alfresco summer dining occasions! Body length up to 20mm.
False Ladybird Endomychus coccineus Not a ladybird but one of the 8 species of Handsome Fungus Beetles. It mimics an unpalatable ladybird in the hope it will be overlooked by any interested predators. 4 to 6mm in length it feeds on fungus growths on or under the bark of dead trees.
One of the rarest….
Net-winged Beetle platycis minutus The smallest (up to 8mm long) of the 4 species of these, rather rare and very local, soft bodied beetles that are found in Britain. This particular one is found in southern and eastern England.
When I realised that this beetle was on the notably scarce list I reported it to the county recorder who got back to me to say that he only had one other record for Bedfordshire, and from a different location. And to my surprise, three weeks later, another one landed right in front of me on a dead/fallen tree that I was ‘examining’ about 25 miles away over the border into Hertfordshire! Perhaps they’re not so rare after all??
Box Bug (late instar nymph) Gonocerus acuteangulatus One of the 11 species of Leatherbugs found in the UK.
Before the early 1990’s this bug was restricted to a small 10km area around Box Hill in Surry (hence the name!) but now it is slowly spreading to other parts of the southern UK and is now classed as local. The adult has a body length of up to 14mm.
I had a good search of the area where I found this nymph but failed to locate anymore individuals.
One of the prettiest….
Black-and-yellow Longhorn Beetle Stenurella melanura With a body length of up to 20mm this prettily marked Longhorn Beetle is one of the 58 species found in Britain, they display a wide variety of sizes and colours.
Wasp Beetle Clytus arietis Another Longhorn Beetle again using colours and patterns to try and outwit any predators this time loosely mimicking a wasp. Up to 15mm body length.
One of the Smallest….
Black Scavenger or Ensign Fly Sepsis cynipsea One of 29 species of small ant like flies that are associated with animal dung, this is one of the smallest at around 3mm body length and is abundant throughout Britain.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this quick look into the vast world of bugs, and as you can probably imagine, I’ve got a large amount of photos (many still to process and i.d.) and in my next post I’ll try and show the variation that occurs within some of the different species.