Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Frogs hop and Cuckoos spit?

Could I just take a moment to explain about commenting on my blog updates. In recent days I have become the target of spammers. I have been getting around 20+ spam comments each and every day. It takes time and effort to check, mark as spam and delete all of these and so I have been forced to change the blog settings until this is resolved.

And so...I have temporarily set commenting to 'Blog members only' I apologise for any inconvenience and hope it will be short-lived as I very much value your comments and don't want to discourage anyone from doing so. 

Many thanks, 'JJ'
10/05/2015 I have been told that some people are experiencing difficulties with commenting and so I have re-set the comment option to how it was originally. 

Sorry for any inconvenience caused...

As we steam into May full speed ahead, things are certainly accelerating on the bug-front. There has been an enormous increase in all kinds of invertebrates locally over the past few weeks, helped I am sure by a record amount of sunshine through April. Where then, shall I begin this latest update? How about choosing something unusual? Yet again it was one of my favourite places Comfort's Wood that would provide me with this find...

This tiny (2mm) creature taxed my equally tiny brain quite a bit, trying to find an identity for it. My initial suspicions were that it might be a bark-louse, or bark-fly as they now seem to be called. The 'neck' looked about right and as that was about all I could make out on such a small thing at the time, knew I would have to do some research once I could get a better view on the PC. 

There followed a protracted spell of internet searching as my books yielded a little less than nothing at all. It did seem as though it was a bark-fly but I just couldn't find any reference to any that appeared to cover themselves in this debris.

Finally, as I was about to admit defeat, I came across an article published by Cambridge Journals Online and written by A,Henderson and D.J.Hackett of 'The Lichenologist'. It seems to describe, if not the exact same species, a most similar one with the same behaviour. As there is a link provided to share the article within a blog, I am assuming there is no copyright breach involved. There is certainly none intended and it seems to be the best way to share the information:

Lichen and Algal Camouflage and Dispersal in the Psocid Nymph Trichadenotecnum Fasciatum
A. Henderson and D. J. Hackett (1986).
The Lichenologist, Volume 18, Issue02, April 1986, pp 199-200

Please return to this update after reading the article though, or even better come back to it at the end of the update? ;-) 

I have been finding a few weevils recently...

Phyllobius pomaceus
I think this colourful one is the Green Nettle Weevil but separating the Phyllobius species can be really difficult and so I am partly relying on the fact that I found it on nettle. Even that isn't conclusive though as there are probably half a dozen more species that are also to be found on nettle.

Phyllobius pyri (?)

What I just said above! Phyllobius are tricky and so I can only say that this might be the Common Leaf Weevil...

I think I know what the next species is and I am certain that I know what they are doing...

Perapion hyrdrolapathi

Dock Weevils would be what these two are. I haven't added a question mark to the end of that statement because I am sure this time....well, almost...kind of...relatively...

Deporaus betulae
Similar to the Hazel Leaf-roller that I posted last time and utilising the same behaviour of rolling a leaf around the egg, this one however uses birch and so is called the Birch Leaf-roller. Oh! You may have noticed another small difference in that this one is black, rather than red.

A couple from the garden now. A Woundwort Shieldbug and a Green Tortoise Beetle...

Eysarcoris venustissimus
(I note that this bug (above) is another that has undergone a name change, previously known as Eysarcoris fabricii...)  

Cassida viridis

There are a few Damselflies to be sighted locally now as well. Although, still only 'Reds'...

The grass bugs are back too, nymphs and adults...

Leptopterna dolbrata (Nymph)

Leptopterna dolbrata is one of the common grass bugs and is widespread throughout the U.K. The other species this nymph could be is L.ferrugata but I plumped for dolbrata given the habitat was damp.

Stenodema laevigata
Again this is a species attracted by damper conditions and I actually found this one in the same spot as the previous bug. Best distinguished from other grass bugs by the coarse and densely pitted pronotum, according to the marvelous British Bugs website and overwintering as an adult, then mating in the spring with a new generation of adults appearing from July.

I've noticed a few Orange-tip butterfly eggs on the cuckoo-flower now...

Yet another thing that is beginning to show up in the long grasses is what we used to call  cuckoo spit. The term cuckoo spit refers to a foamy substance found on grass and all manner of plants actually in spring and summer. As you might expect, it doesn't come from cuckoos, or any other birds for that matter. It's an insect called a froghopper. 

The name seems to originate from the fact that it appears around the same time as the return of the cuckoo. The foam is created by the froghopper nymph as a protection from predators; it's generated by excreting the plant sap they feed on and mixing it with air...a kind of wet flatulence if you like!

The adults don't need to do this as they have a different strategy that involves camouflage and warning colours.

I think that will probably do for this update, particularly as I have already started on the next. I will share one last picture. I began with a minute creature and so will end with another. I believe this to be a minute wasp. It was just 2mm long...

Until the next time...


  1. I'm trying again! Your macros just get better and better and I love the variety of interesting insects you are finding. My fave photo here though is the really cute nymph in the cuckoo spit! You got me looking at Jack by the Hedge for Orange Tip eggs today, but no luck. Have a few Cuckoo Flowers here but not many and they are too low down for me right now.

    Love the weevil photos, envious of the damselfly as I haven't seen any yet, and know nothing about the Psocid thingies which I'll go and read now..... And if this doesn't post I'm going to scream cos I can't copy and paste with my Kindle..... :-)

    1. THANK-YOU Mandy ;-) I appreciate you taking time out to try again...especially given your current....distractions! I even did away with approving comments before publishing for a while to see if it makes any difference ;-)

      Anyhow, you are really kind about my macros and as always have left a thoughtful and encouraging comment...



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