Thursday, April 02, 2015

To quote the Fab Four, 'I Should Have Known Better'...

I love it when nature overrules me and makes me look like a numpty. It happened twice this week too. The first time I had been having a conversation with a friend about spider parasites (as you do) and said that, I had found lots of spiders over the years with wasp larva parasites and they were always sited behind the head, where it was impossible for the spider to reach or remove them. 
Blow me down, if I didn't find one myself a couple of days later and it was in a slightly different spot...






This spider was tiny, here's a photo that should give you a better idea...



I'm not exactly sure of the species of this little one, other than, I thought it looked quite similar to this next one that I photographed in a different location, about a week ago. I had considered that it might be Araneidae and in particular, Araniella opisthographa but it's quite variable in colour. It could be a different species altogether of course...





You'll be wanting to hear about my second faux pas no doubt? Oh it was nothing really, other than another of those coincidences that often happen with Mother Nature. I commented on a friend's photograph of a dock bug that I saw on an online photo site and said something about the fact that I still hadn't seen one this year. Shortly after, I found one. Of all possible places, on the wall of the house...


Coreus marginatus-A Dock Bug

These are really commonplace locally and probably by the end of the season, I shall be ignoring them altogether, but it's always exciting to see my first of the year. This one did provide a couple of interesting asides too. Have a look at the following picture and see if you know what the odd looking white 'spot' is...




A closer look shows more detail and also makes me think that those holes must be spiracles used for breathing and I hadn't noticed them in this location on dock bugs before...




This last shot shows the little projections between the antennae that can be used to separate this bug from similar species...





I have been lucky enough to find a couple of cool beetles since my last update. I'll share my favourite in a bit, but this was a neat find as well I thought; it's one of those ladybirds that isn't a ladybird at all...

Endomychus coccineus-A False Ladybird Beetle
Often mistaken for a ladybird, but the red colour is a bluff, to deter predators by trying to look like a nasty tasting ladybird. You might recall that one year I found the striking larvae of this little beetle?

False Ladybird Larva

False Ladybird Pupa


I said that the false ladybird beetle was small, and at around 5-6mm I guess it is, but you can half that for this next critter. Once again it's a beetle-although not the one I have already teased you with, no this time it is a weevil...


A tiny weevil-possibly Nedyus species?



Last year I had some larvae of the puss moth and they were amazing to rear and observe...

A Puss Moth Caterpillar-Cerura vinula

well two days ago one of the adult moths emerged...

A Puss Moth-Cerura vinula


This picture shows the moth with the pupal case that it emerged from...




It spent the day with me whilst it recovered from eclosion and dried its wings etc. Then on what was a fairly warm spring evening, I carefully placed it into the garden in a sheltered spot to allow it to gain its freedom. The following morning it had gone.




And here's that other beetle I mentioned earlier in this update. It's a longhorn that I only found for the first time last year and so that makes this one just my second sighting. Rahgium mordax is usually the first longhorn I find, making this a nice early sighting of R.bifisciatum. Actually R.mordax likes hawthorn, and that's where I spotted my beetle (I think) and so for a moment, assumed it was that one, as they are fairly similar in appearance....at a glance...wearing dark glasses...facing the other way...with your eyes shut!

Rhagium bifisciatum-The Two-banded Longhorn Beetle




And a closer look at this impressive beetle...




Just time for a couple of oddities that you might be able to help with? First up is this, well...pupal case I suppose? But what might have emerged from it? The only clues I can offer are that it was located at the base of a large, old oak tree and there were Andrena species bees and bee-flies present....




Then there are these little white larvae that I spotted under bark in a damp area of woodland...




Not too much detail on these as it was a 'snap' with the pocket camera but I haven't found a match yet.

That about wraps up this update. Back soon with another.

Until the next time...

4 comments:

  1. What a feast for the eyes - your macros are fantastic. I have seen one parasite like this on a stretch spider and if my memory serves me right, it was located on its abdomen. I had no idea what it was, so you've taught me something. Love all the critters you've found and congrats on the successful eclosion of the puss moth - what a beauty!
    I'm missing getting down to search for bugs, but plenty of time later on for that. Good to know so much is happening in the insect and spider world already. :-)

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    1. Thanks for this commenting Mandy. I appreciate it. Yes, those parasites do seem quite common on spiders. It'll all be there waiting for you when you do feel the urge to get out and about with the camera. I look forward to seeing some more stunning photos and clever writing when the time is right ;-)

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  2. Nice to see the Dock bug! On your house on top of it! Lol! Will have to try that trick if saying that I haven't seen something and fingers crossed it'll work for me too!
    Stunning detailed images as ever. No idea what the white is on the Dock bug. Fascinating to see the spiracles.

    Funny but I find those spider parasite really creepy! I generally find parasites on other insects incredibly fascinating and always keen to know more, but not so with the spider one.

    Love the beetles! Not seen any Longhorns here yet but will keep an eye on the Hawthorn around here too. It's true that R. bifasciatum seems to rather like it as I think all my sightings have been on or near it too.

    Aren't those False ladybird beetles amazing? Love the way both larvae and adults mimic the ladybirds too.

    No idea what the pupal case belonged to, but reckon those larvae must be diptera??? Who know! ;-)

    Mx

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    1. Hi Maria,

      Firstly apologies for the delay in this comment appearing here but for some unknown reason, the notification went into my spam folder.

      Yes, always worth a try but then, you seem to be finding lots anyway? I guess those spider parasites are a bit freaky but, that's nature isn't it, not everything is nice ;-) Interesting that your finds of longhorns have also been on hawthorn. I have in my mind that they were associated with pine woods but that could well be wrong.

      Think you could be right about Diptera too...

      Thanks for all this as always.

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