Wednesday, March 07, 2012

A few faux friends...

It's been a while since I could get out and take a few photos of the local wildlife and nature etc.. but finally the weather relented and time allowed a few hours wandering around the Kent countryside.

First up is this Rove Beetle photo from a couple of days ago.

Paederus littoralis

This little beetle is only about 7 or 8mm long and is flightless.It belongs to the family 'Staphylinidae' There are nearly 1,000 species here in the U.K. some of which have a resemblance to earwigs.
This particular photograph was taken using natural light and is a stack of a few images. This one I rescued from a cattle trough that it had fallen into, it was not at all well following it's ordeal and probably the only reason that I managed a few shots before it scurried off. It did recover though and was soon on it's way. Below is an image from a week or so ago that shows a whole beetle and was taken using flash.

March in the U.K. is right at the tail end of winter, but not exactly spring yet and although bugs and insects are starting to appear numbers are small as are species. However, you only need to turn over a few stones, or fallen branches, or even pick up a handful of leaf-litter and chances are there will be something of interest.

A Click Beetle

This fantastic little click beetle was found in exactly that way, I picked up a large stone to see what if anything was lurking underneath, when this dropped off. The colourful thing it's perched on here is just a small bit of card that I used to pick it up with to get a photograph; before replacing it under the stone to sleep out the remaining days until the temperature rises enough for it to get out and about.

These are always nice to find and their 'coats' always remind me of a pasta that's been squeezed in that area just behind the head/thorax. Just me then?

Moving on.....

A Ground Bug-Scolopostethus sp.

This tiny ground bug belongs to the family 'Lygaeidae' and is only around 4mm in size. These are notoriously difficult to i.d. with any certainty from a photograph but I think I have this one right, at least down to species level.
Once again, this little bug was revealed to me when I turned over a piece of fallen bark and although it was good to see a true-bug after a long winter, it's true colours are only revealed by photographing it with the macro lens; it would just be too small for the human eye to pick up all the detail. Well, my human eye anyhow.

A False-Ladybird Larva

Some days can be particularly frustrating when out bug-hunting and those days have been to the fore over the past few weeks:to be fair, I'd expect little else through the winter months. But this day was turning into one of those rewarding ones when it all seems worthwhile and the finds were starting to get very interesting.

I decided on checking out an area beside a local crop field where I knew there was a fallen tree and that meant a good opportunity to search under the now lifting bark for further invertebrates.

Thinking I might just spot some interesting collembola species I began to search. Nothing of interest, just the usual suspects. I'd almost resigned myself to it being a lost cause when I found another of these fascinating beetle larva.
I found these for the first time only a few weeks ago but this time I had the idea of taking a couple home (I eventually located around a dozen or more) to see if I could observe them pupating and then emerging as adult beetles later in the year.

And so now I have a nice container that replicates their natural surroundings as closely as possible and I'm hoping that I'll be able to watch their progress and learn a lot in the process.

A False Scorpion

Under the very same piece of bark where I found the ground bug was this fantastic creature: a pseudoscorpion. As I think I've stated before on this blog, these are so called because of their resemblance to scorpions. They actually have no sting and as for size, the largest are only 8mm with this one being a mere 3mm, smaller than the ground bug.

They may pose no danger to us but if you're an insect then beware;these tigers of the undergrowth can produce a venom that is extremely toxic and is more than capable of felling prey several times their own size.

These pseudo or false scorpions are actually arachnids. There is an interesting piece with further information about them here.

I ought to point out that the i.d. I am providing on these insects is purely based on my research and sometimes the help of like-minded friends. I am not an entomologist, just an interested amateur photographer and so if any prove to be incorrect, I apologise and would welcome corrections.

Litargus connexus 

The two photos above of a 'Hairy Fungus Beetle' are an example of my inability to put an identity to some of my finds and having to resort to requesting help from others with better knowledge of such things.

I'd not even got to species level with this one when I began to suspect that I might need help. I decided that my best plan of attack would be to enlist the help of someone that had helped me numerous times in the past and so I fired off an email with pictures of the beast to Tim Ransom and in no time at all back came the answer in full. Even better, the added information that this little beetle had last been recorded in my area in 1991 and so it turns out to be a nice find.

Carabidae-Leistus species (possibly L.spinibarbis?)

This striking blue beetle of the Carabidae family had me hurriedly adjusting my flash settings on the camera to try and obviate the reflections from the metallic elytra as best I could.

These fast running beetles are essentially carnivorous, feeding on a variety of other invertebrates.Many of them have this bright, metallic look and can be Bronze, Green, Violet and even in the case of the strange Tiger Beetle, spotted!

Phragmatobia fuliginosa

My last find of the day was this Ruby Tiger Moth larva. These are known to feed on herbaceous plants but I think this one was still in it's dormant phase.

They do morph into a spectacular moth that can be seen flying  from April to June and then again from August to September, although I understand there is just one generation in the north of the country.

A Ruby Tiger Moth

That, ladies and gentlemen, concludes this edition of my little nature/photography blog. I hope you'll be able to join me again soon for the next? Many thanks to everyone that has signed up for notifications of new blog entries and my friends around the world that I know read these missives also. Special thanks to my friend Tim Ransom for his invaluable help with i.d. on some of these entries.

Until the next time then...

1 comment:

  1. great series, love the rove beetle JJ , only see black ones here!


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