Thursday, November 01, 2012

'Something nice'...twice!

Just when I was starting to think that it was all over for this year and my aching feet that have already been stuffed into wellies for too long, and the inevitable cake of mud that returns with me from my daily walks is telling me that escape from winter isn't an option,the same thing that happens most years, surprised me yet again.

Why does it surprise me? Because my memory would rival a goldfish for longevity. And what is it that occurred? Merely the appearance of what I like to refer to as 'something nice'...

Click on any photo for a larger view
Pogonocherus hispidus-A Longhorn Beetle

Of course, 'something nice' is what I'm always hoping to find but when something nice turns up at this end of the season, it gives me that kind of 'perhaps it's not all over just yet' feeling and encourages me to search with renewed vigour,at least until either I realise it was just a 'one off' or maybe the weather intervenes.

I have come across this beautiful little beetle before but usually in the springtime. I understand that some of this species overwinter as adults though and I do recall once spotting one in February.

It isn't easy to get an idea of size from these photos but body length is only around 5-7mm.

The patterns on the insect are said to be an attempt at mimicking bird droppings as a means of camouflage.
These beetles also rejoice in the name of 'Lesser Thorn-tipped Longhorn Beetles' If you take a look at the closer shot below, you will see the two thorn-like projections at the end of the abdomen that give it this name.

This beetle turns up fairly frequently across England and Wales. The much rarer P.fasciculatus is a notable B. species and can be distinguished by the lack of thorn-like projections.

There is yet another very similar beetle with a similar name too-this one is 'Pogonocherus hispidulus' and although it can easily be mistaken for the same beetle, it has much more white on the abdomen and also a white patch on the antennae.

Here's one that I photographed a while ago, for comparison...

And so to quote a line from a song that I can't remember the title of (see what I mean about my memory)..."This is where the story ends"-well, actually, no.

Because, no sooner had one 'something nice' come along, than I was gifted with a second...

This large female Ichneumon wasp was sitting on some fence netting and she was unusually cooperative.

The term 'Ichneumon Wasp' is used rather loosely to refer to wasps in the family Ichneumonidae. There is actually a genus called ichneumon but it is not easy to distinguish from related genera.

Identification of these wasps can be a real challenge with approaching 3,000 U.K. species and little information available.

I did find a check-list of British species at the Biological Records Centre when trying to identify this one but it runs to 162 pages and is just a list of names with no pictures to help.

Dr Gavin Broad of The Natural History Museum said this : 

"There are some ichneumons that can be readily identified from photos, such as Amblyteles armatorius, or Ichneumon suspiciosusOphion obscuratus is a wasp often photographed and easily recognised (its main confusion species is very rare and can almost always be readily discounted). Some of the larger Tryphoninae can be fairly easily identified and many of the larger Ichneumoninae can be recognised on colour pattern, if one is familiar with the species [that's quite a big 'if'!].
"It is also worth noting that Chinery's photographic guide has a page of ichneumonids entirely incorrectly named."

Here's a different species of parasitic wasp that I photographed a couple of years ago (might even be 3 years ago...memory!)

A colourful image to end on-here's a juvenile pill millipede that I discovered under a dis-guarded piece of red plastic...

Until then next time then...


  1. WOW! Amazed you found a longhorn!!! I stopped looking some time ago! Did you sift in the leaf litter? How did you find it?
    Excellent blog as ever! Interesting about the Ichneumons too! Especially the incorrectly named ones in the book!

  2. Maria: We have a new area of woodland being created locally and in prep. for planting the trees they have fenced the area off-this new fencing provides superb places for invertebrates to sit/fall onto, whatever the case.

    I am finding that the fence posts are being made use of as perches and that's where I found the longhorn. This particular bit of fencing is underneath mature trees.

  3. Thanks! Interesting! I do always check fence posts as a rule, but perhaps ought to be even more vigilant! Lol!


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