Wednesday, February 14, 2018


I found a few of these danglers attached to an Aphodius rufipes that had wandered into the moth trap.

They appear to have limbs, possibly 8, so wonder if they might be some kind of mite hitching a ride. But they are attached by a short filament rather than clinging on with legs or mouth parts so am slightly at a loss as to what they are exactly....

Answers on a postcard....

Update: apparently these are Uropodidae mites

Saturday, January 27, 2018

We are family....

I've been sorting through a few Tenebrionidae recently. It is a varied family, with 47 species on the UK list.

I have one of the largest species, Blaps mucronota living under the kitchen floor boards. The one pictured here I found dead one morning.  Looking at it more closely, you can see that their eyes are an odd shape, rather slit like. Would love to know the adaptive significance of them.

This Crypticus quisquillus was found on a path on the Essex coast and was a new one for me. It's a rather smart little beetle at only 6mm.

The one that I find most often and usually think is an Amara before I pick it up and have a closer look  to count the tarsal segments (5-5-4) is Nalassus laevioctostriatus. I often find it turning bits of rotten wood or heather on heathland but it does occur in other habitats too.

Phaleria cadaverina is found in coastal locations around England. This one I found under driftwood on the Gower in South Wales. It's forelegs appear to be adapted for digging and burrowing.

Tenebrio molitor is a fairly common and the larva are often used to feed pet amphibians and reptiles. It's often found near human habitation - this one was in my garden - and moves rather slowly making it easy to pick up. Common they may be but they are a really subtly beautiful beetle when you see them up close.

Isomira murina are also really common and vary a bit in colour. This one is a particularly dark individual. The elytra are usually browner in colour.

The shapes vary a bit and when you take into account other species like Diaperis boleti and Pseudocistela ceramboides it really is a very varied family indeed.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

A quick trip to the heath

Yesterday, I was on child care duties and so I proposed a trip out to Cavenham Heath in Suffolk. Previous trips here with the kids had been a success as they enjoyed trying to catch grasshoppers in pots.

Yesterday's trip was much less of a success with #1 son being a fun sponge and #2 suffering from a cricked neck, so our trip was cut short to avoid excess arguments!

We did come across a couple of the beetle Trycocopris vernalis which is the second time I've seen it here.

More exciting were my first Beewolfs (or is it beewolves!) Philanthus triangulum. They were provisioning burrows with bees.

I also pootered what I assumed was going to be a Bembidion beetle but when I looked at it under the hand lens I could see it was a very small hemipteran. Turns out it's Plinthisus brevipennis a relatively common ground bug.

Just need a return trip either on my own or with more amenable children.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

White spot on Elm street

Have recently returned from an amazing 2 weeks in the Picos de Europa in Northern Spain. Butterflies galore and dung with concentrations of beetles like you wouldn't believe!

Anyway, a trip out last night with fellow moth-er Bill to an isolated stand of old elms near Ely. Generally a quiet night but we did get three of our target moth to the light. 

White-spotted Pinion, a species that was massively impacted by Dutch Elm disease in the 1970s. A new one for me and a rather smart moth. Thanks to Bill for the pic.

Friday, July 7, 2017

A rather big surprise

Last Sunday I got up early to check the moth trap and was greeted with a rather unexpected sight....a Bedstraw Hawkmoth.

This was my 10th hawkmoth species for the garden and one that I'd not expected to see. I also thought I'd be trapping for years more before hawkmoth number 10 fell. But therein lies the wonder of mothing.

There had apparently been a small influx to various south and east coast locations. Even more surprising was that people even wanted to twitch the moth.... #fridgetick

Thursday, June 22, 2017

A first and second for the garden

Last night's overnight temperature didn't dip below 20 degrees so I put the MV moth trap. I was greeted at 4am to a sizeable haul of moths, many of which did a bunk as soon as I opened the trap. Such is the downside of warm nights.

300 moths of 70+ species but in amongst the usual suspects was the first Golden Plusia Polychrysia moneta for the garden and the second and third records of Lunar-spotted Pinion Cosmia pyralina.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

A quick jaunt to the Gower

What seems like an age ago now but was in fact only a month past, the family and I managed a long weekend on the Gower peninsula.

I had not been to south Wales since an undergraduate field course to Pembrokeshire in 1995 so a return trip has been long over due.

My wife had work commitments in Swansea so we met up with her, picked her up and carried on to a cottage that we'd booked on Air B'n'B.

My main target for the weekend was to see the strandline beetle Eurynebria complanata. This is found on either side of the Bristol channel and during the day lives under tideline debris like drift wood and more recently, bits of plastic.

With a bit of gen from the Pan Listing Facebook group, we spent most of the first day visiting Whiteford sands. The weather was sunny but with a cool wind but basically absolutely gorgeous.

There was no one else around and we only saw 2 or 3 other people all day. We dumped our bags on the edge of the dunes and then started searching.

We quickly found a couple of Broscus cephalotes under a piece of wood. Interestingly these were the only ones we saw.  There were also plenty of staphs and what appeared to be Aphodius spp. too.

After about 10 mins we turned a log and were greeted with this sight.

In total we saw about 50 Eurynebria along a mile stretch of beach, under many of the bits of debris that were up near the high tide mark.

We also saw plenty of Dune Tiger beetles. What I noticed is that the sand has to be firmer with a higher number of small pebbles embedded for this species to occur. It's similar in Norfolk too. You can be wandering about looking for them in what seems like good habitat and you don't see any, but it just takes a small change in the substrate and suddenly they are everywhere.

There were loads of other goodies too. Some of which I'm still identifying.....

Onthophagus nuchicornis

Harpalus neglectus (left) and tarda (right)

Underside of Harpalus neglectus

Dicheirotrichus gustavii

Aphodius (Liothorax) plagiatus

Aegialia arenaria 

Cafius sp. (still not quite sure which!)

Pogunus chalceus

All in all everyone had a good day out and the weather held. I really want to get back for another visit to that part of the world ASAP!