Wednesday, October 28, 2015

"Don't crickets have funny knees?"


NOOOOooooo! What is this government we elected doing? 'There is no other way' we are told..'The welfare cuts are essential.' Yeah that's right you bunch of two-faced hypocrites, take from those who can least afford it and tell them to get over it, when at the same time you are wasting millions of pounds on a hair-brained scheme such as culling grey squirrels


Wake up to the facts! Grey's are not doing the apocalyptic damage you claim. For God's sake...man introduced them as they considered them to be 'fashionable' and it's man that must fess-up to being the one who has blood on his hands regarding the demise of the reds, now the government will give millions to farmers and land owners to cull the grey squirrels 'using whatever method they prefer.' This isn't about the reds at all. This is about the very same thing that drives almost every move this lot make, filthy lucre! In the words of Arlo Guthrie...'Kill...kill...kill!'

Sorry! I'm better now, really. I found my chill pills and necked the whole bottle. I am calmer than a sleepy sloth now...

Shall we crack on with a blog update? After all, it's what I came here for and I hope you did too...



Not a great deal of detail on this image of a sawfly larva now that I have restricted the resolution and it is actually a huge crop from the original too. However, I wanted to try and show the amazing mouth parts. I found this one right in the middle of a moult and was fortunate enough to be able to hang around and take a series of shots as it tried to free itself from the old 'skin'...




'Pycnomerus fuliginosus'....."pardon?"...."Pycnomerus fuliginosus", it's a small beetle that is also known as an Ironclad Beetle or a Cylindrical Bark Beetle." So what?" I hear you cry...............................................go on then, I'm waiting!
I'll tell you what...no, better still, an image that nicely illustrates what a joy it was for me to recently spot one of these intriguing beasties...




These two pictures show the recorded finds of this beetle in my area (West Kent) as well as the neighbouring county of East Kent. You can see, there aren't any...that's 'so what'.

Before I get too carried away, I guess I should share a picture or two of this tiny beetle...







What made this such a great find for me was that this particular creature belongs in the Antipodes. At least, that's where it originates from. An import from Australia, to put it plainly. Of course I am always aware that like so many other species, this is probably under-recorded, here's beetle expert Mark Telfer who I submitted my find to for confirmation of ID...


"I’m sure you’re right that it is P. fuliginosus. It has become well established and is quite a familiar sight to me. However, it hasn’t spread all that far – I’ve personally only seen it in VCs 3, 11, 13, 17 and 24 (S Devon, S Hants, W Sussex, Surrey and Bucks). I know it also occurs in Northern Ireland. I would be surprised if it is not established in Kent but I don’t know for sure."

 Moving right along...don't crickets have funny knees?........................ Well? 

I paused for you to ponder, to hypothesise, even a gentle explicate if that's what floats your boat. By the way, don't you hate, at least dislike, all those phrases like 'Float your boat'-'Blue-sky thinking'-'Push the envelope'- Tick the boxes'...Grrr!  Wish I hadn't used one myself now. Shall I erase it? Nah...if it comes outta my head, it goes in the blog! So then, a cricket with funny knees? Certainly...



Oh Feck! That's an earwig isn't it...let me try that again...



C'mon, you gotta admit that this Speckled Bush Cricket has odd knees? What are those 'fried-egg' shaped things all about I wonder.

Whilst we are...procrastinating about knees and genuflection in general, that is what we were doing wasn't it? I know I was. I was sitting here, hand on my forehead in contemplation of just whether it would be possible for a cricket to indulge in true genuflection, by bending its right knee to the ground. Probably not and even more than that, I doubt they are religious either?


Erm, oh yes...what do you think these little blighters are?



I can't even recall what plant they were on now and it was only a few days ago that I found them, maybe hazel? I was asking myself there by the way, not you and so don't feel obliged to answer, unless you know of course. I think they must be plant bugs rather than aphids or anything like that but who knows? I sure don't!

You see...this is how my brain lets me down, what has the above photo got to do with knees? Nowt is the one word answer. I...distracted myself there and my original thought pattern disappeared faster than a f**t in a fan factory...as they say in these parts. Let me try and drag it back kicking and screaming to the forefront of my overtired mind. I was about to say this...

"Did you know that ladybirds/bugs bleed from their knees?"




Yes, it's true. Startle a ladybird (not sure how I startled this one or even if it was me that did so) and it will ooze a foul substance from its knees. This process, that is supposed to deter any predator is called reflex bleeding. The 'Hemolymph' (the fluid in the cavities and body tissues of insects which transports nutrients) is both toxic and frankly, disgusting.

I have been photographing hoppers whilst out and about with the camera and here are just some that I have collected over the past few weeks...



Now that I see them here, I think there may be two versions of one of the pictures? Oh well, put it down to my poor vision? I am always seeing double.
Joking aside (yes, that was a joke) my eyesight can't be too bad or I would never have been able to find this extremely small springtail...


Almost certainly the smallest collembola I have yet photographed. I couldn't begin to hazard a guess at an identity at this tender age but I daresay there are people who will know.



Wanna see something you don't see everyday? Oh goody, 'cos I was going to post it next anyway...


These slender and slow moving insects are called stilt bugs. They belong in the Berytidae family. I think this could be Metatropis rufescens. I have only ever found two individuals and so assume they are not too common locally.

Edit: Oh no it isn't! Please see comments for correct ID (Thanks Maria) This is in fact a similar bug of a different family: Reduviidae  At least this means I probably have never found one of these before...

Well I think it's time for me to add the very last picture for this update and it brings us right back where we started, with a grey squirrel. I photographed this one at a local park a few days ago...



Don't just sit there....run, run...they are out to get you little squirrel!


Until the next time...

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Featuring the enigmatic,dorso-ventrally flattened, Platycampus luridiventris...

I have said this before and will probably do so again, but you just don't ever know what you are going to find next. Even at this time of year there are surprises in store. Sometimes, and I like this even more, there are discoveries to be made that bamboozle. 
C'mon, everyone likes a bamboozle or two from time to time, don't they?

Hmmm...maybe not quite the right expression after all...perhaps...befuddle would be better? Whatever! It just boils down to not having a feckin' clue if I am honest.

And so I thought rather than tease you later, I would be 'up-front' with the finds in question; finds I like to refer to as mystery objects. I have several, which leads me to think I should probably stop waffling and just post the pictures...




It's a cocoon I think, but what made it? Look at the way it is tethered to the little slice of wood it is resting on. It looks like a mini barrage balloon. I found it under a fallen branch in heathland habitat.

By the way, I am no longer uploading high-res images to my blog. On the plus side, being smaller pictures the blog should load faster.

What about the next one...



My guess would be that it is a hoverfly larva/pupa; it is only a guess though...


Now here's something you don't see every day. The thing about this one is that I should know what they are. I should, because I found the same kind once before. It was a long time ago though and I just can't remember now...





I think, and notice how many times I say think because I just can't be sure, but we could be looking at another hoverfly larva here. Although...erm...it may be something entirely different because I have tried to find a matching hoverfly larva and failed. If it helps, it was found under a cow pat! Along with what I assume are beetle larva?


The other larvae looked like this...



Just one more mystery before I bore you silly?


Okay, not exactly a full-blown, all singing and dancing mystery because I am fairly sure this one is another hoverfly cocoon. It could be the cocoon of Episyrphus balteatus. Or as I once saw it described 'Episyrphus balteatus puparium'.



So now that at least one of us (me) feels better having at last dragged all those mystery objects from the folder that has been sitting on my desktop for a while, shall we move on? (Why did I add an interrogation point there?) That was intended to be rhetorical.
I was a little surprised to find this next creature a few days ago...

A Hazel Leaf-roller Weevil
The books seem to indicate May through July for these beetles, but as I am always saying, invertebrates can't read and so how are they expected to know. I do know there are 2 generations per year, but thought the second over-wintered as larvae.

Teeny, tiny, titchy is where we are going next with this Ragwort Flea Beetle. I should say that once again, I think that is what it is likely to be. (2mm)

Ragwort Flea Beetle-Longitarsus jacobaeae

I think I may have mentioned before, or perhaps it was on Flickr....hmmm...anyway, I was saying somewhere, that I have been finding lots of sawfly larvae this year and here's yet another one. This one is kinda funky don't you think?

Platycampus luridiventris
 This enigmatic (not over the top as a description is it?) larva is, in techno-speak, 'Dorso-ventrally flattened', added to the fact that they feed on the underside of leaves, which makes them hard to spot. They can spend up to 3 months in the larval stage and can be found until the autumn (providing they have read the books that is.)

The next one is, well frankly, not so pretty...

Caliroa cerasi
This is Caliroa cerasi, the Pear Slug Sawfly, or sometimes called the Pear Slugworm. Confusingly, I have also seen it referred to as the Cherry Slug Sawfly. These larvae cover themselves in a greenish slime (not sure where they acquire it, Tescos maybe? "I'll have a pack of Oykos yogurt 'cos I love them, and, oh! A large bottle of your best green slime please") making themselves unpalatable to predators (would you want to try one?) When fully grown, they drop off the tree and pupate underground. Next year, the adult emerges to mate and lays eggs on the host plant, completing the cycle.

And another...



This one stumped me for a while, until I started looking for larvae that used Figwort as a food plant. Guess what? This turned out to be a Figwort Sawfly larva: Tenthredo scrophularia. I've seen these larvae described as; dusty greyish white, with black spots and a generally creased appearance. Or was that somebody's description of me? Can't remember now!



Moving on,
I have seen Flatbugs before, I have seen Flatbug nymphs before...



But never have I seen Flatbugs, nymphs and eggs...



I guess if you don't like spiders, then now would be a good time to cut and run because that's what's coming next. Well, maybe I can just share this short video I took on my phone of some dragonflies egg laying whilst you make your escape...

The usual reminder about vids not showing in the e.mailed version. You might need to view the blog direct and online. 
video






When I found this tiny jumping spider on a sunny fence-post recently, I thought it might be Evarcha species, but was puzzled by the length of the abdomen which didn't seem to fit. I tried my best to ID it when I got home but drew a blank. I decided to try a specialist spider identification site on the internet and added it there, hoping somebody with more knowledge than me (or should that be than I?) might know.

Unfortunately, to date at least, the answer seems to be that people know what it isn't but not what it is. It was proposed that it could be a very young Marpissa mucosa spiderling. I think that may actually be a good shout. There are similarities and the habitat would certainly fit.





One of those happy coincidences happened whilst I was researching the possibilities of this being a baby fence-post jumping spider. Although I failed to find any photographic evidence of what the juveniles look like, I did see some pictures that could well explain the next images. I had thought that these (below) were examples of the most beautifully marked Marpissa mucosa that I have yet found, which they are, but it transpires that the reason could be that this is a young individual and the young adults are marked differently to mature ones. I love that, when you learn something knew by accident...




Marpissa mucosa (subadult?)



animated-spider-image-0018

The next spider is associated with water, where it hunts along the banks of ponds and streams and can also walk on the water surface thanks to water repellent hairs. I've read that courting males have to signal their intentions semaphore style to avoid being attacked by the female. Perhaps I should employ that tactic John McCririck style. 
What a great name for a spider though? A Pirate Wolf Spider! 

Pirate Wolf Spider - Pirata piraticus. 



Okay, enough with the spiders. I will leave you with a little video of the beautiful, metallic weevil I found a while back...

video


Until the next time...

NB: I apologise if some of the text spacing is incorrect and some ranged, some centered. I have checked and re-checked the html code and it reads as correct and so can only assume it's Blogger messing around again. 


Additional photo (See comments)

A Dung Beetle