Sunday, March 06, 2016

Publish and be damned...

I need your input blog-readers. I had a nice email from somebody who used the  blogger 'contact JJ' option, that was very complimentary about my little blog, but mentioned at the same time about my writing style.
They were expressing a preference for the more factual updates, over the, well frankly, sillier ones. 

And so I would love to know what others think. I want to get the balance right because, although this is my blog, it is nothing without you loyal readers. Please do let me know any thoughts, good or bad, by using the same contact option, or just adding a comment at the bottom of this post.



Here we go then (at last) no frivolity included! Oh, before we get too far into this update, I need to apologise for the brevity and lack of tremendously exciting subject matter. I have already made a note to myself to try harder next time. The whole story is a little convoluted and uninteresting in itself but I did actually start this update almost two weeks ago and between then and now have had a bout of man-flu...

It's always a thrill to find my first jumping spider of the year and as usual, I spotted my very first on the wall of the house the other day...

Salticus scenicus-A Jumping Spider
There are of course several really similar jumping spiders here in the UK but I think my ID is sound for this one.

On the very same wall I also came across this nicely marked Nursery Web Spider...

Pisaura mirabilis - A Nursery Web Spider

To complete the spider trio; a teeny thing found in the garden on the same day...

This one might be a tad more difficult to identify to species level It could be either Araniella cucurbitina or Araniella opisthographa. Commonly known as the Cucumber Green Orb Spider I think.

Underneath a terracotta pot, I found this Moth Fly. Well I say Moth Fly, that's what I call them. I think possibly Psychodidae is the correct term. Also known variously as Owl Midges, Drain Flies, Filter Flies and Sewage Flies. It's a shame they have so many names 'cos they only live about five days and so by the time you have got to know them all, they will be gone.

On a recent walk in what was mainly coniferous woodland, I noticed in a couple of sunnier areas that the wood ants were appearing above ground in huge numbers...

Unfortunately I only had my phone to take pictures with but you can see there were lots of them. I also did a tiny video...


I think these are Formica rufa (The Southern wood or horse ant) and there is some very interesting info on these ants and their nests on the UK Wood Ants website.
A small extract: The wood ant’s nest is a marvel of insect construction and contains thousands of workers, over 250,000 individuals in Formica rufa. On the surface, the mound is made of a soil core surrounded in a “thatch” made of organic materials including pine needles, small twigs, moss, heather, dried grass and even pieces of lichen. The thatch is made in such a way that it intercepts the sun’s rays at right angles, acting like a solar panel to raise the temperature of the nest above that of the surroundings. This is important for the development of the brood inside the nest and to keep the workers warm enough to remain active, even on cool days. Workers will move the brood up and down the nest in order to provide them with the optimal temperatures for growth, sometimes bringing them onto the surface of the nest for an extra boost of warmth from the sun. The thatch is also an umbrella for the nest, each piece laid in a precise manner so that rain water trickles away from the nest, keeping it dry.
The heart of the nest is actually deep under ground and comprises of a series of tunnels and chambers. Inside a special underground chamber the queen will reside with her brood.
Wood ant mounds vary tremendously in size and shape, from tiny nests no bigger than a dinner plate, to humungous mounds over 1m tall.
Please check out the link for more: HERE

I think I may have disturbed this click beetle from its hibernation...

The last thing of note is this little springtail that I found. It was more what it was doing than the actual find that interested me. It's a fairly common collembola but I have never seen one on top of a slug like this...

It was also raising its abdomen in the air and 'waggling' it too...

I had no clue as to this behaviour; but I knew of somebody who might. Collembola expert and all round nice guy Frans Janssens. I fired of this email:

Hello Frans,
I wonder if, when you get time, you might be able to clue me in as to what is happening with the behaviour this collembola is exhibiting?
It was aboard this slug and even though I watched it for some time, showed no signs of wanting to climb off. It kept dipping its head as if drinking and at the same time sticking it's abdomen in the air and 'waggling'.
Any clues would be very much appreciated.

Many thanks

Here is his reply:

Dear John,

The head dipping is not drinking but eating: Neanura muscorum is a typical suspension feeder and feeds on the slime the slug is covered with. But I have no idea why it uplifts its abdomen as such... I have seen it in Hypogastruridae:
But I have no clue what they are doing.

Kind regards,


Ah well! If the expert isn't sure, I don't feel so bad about not knowing myself. As always I do wish to thank Frans for taking time out to answer my little poser though.

And so that is all I can offer for this update, I can add just one more photograph before I go though. A selection of springtails from the garden...

That's it! As Wellington famously said to Joseph Stockdale ..."Publish and be damned".

Until the next time...


  1. Fantastic photos as usual and a interesting post.
    As far as your writing style, I have always enjoy your posts, and find if you try to be something for someone it doesn't work. This is your blog do the hell what you want with it. Hope that helped :)
    Amanda xx

    1. Hi Amanda. Thanks for your visit.
      What a lovely comment! helped a lot...;-)

    2. After reading this post, Iv'e been having a look in my garden. Woodlouse been the main thing that's about, I'm interested to Know how many of the 40 species we have in the UK you have managed to see and photograph.
      Amanda xx

    3. Hi again Amanda,
      es, there is not too much about in the garden just yet. Erm...well, I guess the answer regards woodlouse finds is...'not as many as I would like'. I don't think it is very many actually. Yet, it IS something I have intended to increase for ages now. I even think I mentioned the fact way back in a previous update but have never gotten around to it. Perhaps this message from you will be the encouragement I need to follow up with actions.

      Watch this space for an update of any that I do find or have found but not shared...

      JJ x

    4. Oopps! That should read es...;-)

    5. Ooopps! That should read...Not es!

  2. and I thought if there was one fact present all around us that's silliness :-)
    Well, I guess (as against 'know') natural fluctuation in reader interest may be inevitable no matter what the strategy. as we, your readers go through interest divergence/evolution. This is not to say, one way may not get consistently more interested readers over other, but what about number of interested readers whose liking match that of yours? also, If you choose to put efforts to go any one way over the other, your readers may face risk of less interested you on this blog?
    re my preference, I like effortlessness over efforts. (well, except when efforts are being put to achieve effortlessness, and even there, its more of compulsion, not choice).

    btw, I always love to see this kind of jumping spider on your update - we have similar one here and its only thing where I feel I too can take this shot. and always, springtails too are amazing . I love to see them on your blog as I myself can never take those shots :-)

    1. Earthshine (apologies if that seems rude but I have realised that even though we have been commenting on each other's blog's for a long time now, I have no idea of your name, or even whether you are male or female!) ;-) And so...'Earthshine'...this is a great reply, thank-you so much. You have managed to encapsulate exactly my own feelings and I totally agree with how you say I might myself be less interested/interesting, should I change my style. I wasn't really considering one style over the other, rather just trying to gauge what people thought about the silliness I suppose. I would only think about reducing that if there was a huge majority against it. Having said that, I suppose people wouldn't be here at all if they didn't find something of interest/amusement.

      Thanks for your enthusiasm over the jumping spiders too, they are one of my very favourite species...

      Best wishes

  3. Hi JJ from another JJ, re the comment on your writing style for your blog: there is a clue in the fact that it is YOUR BLOG, therefore you should write it as you are felt moved and not try to pander to 'one persons' preference. How very arrogant of them to say to change YOUR BLOG to be more factual, less silly. I think you will find there will only be that person who has that view, the rest of us enjoy the style of YOUR BLOGS as they come out, so if they don't get pleasure from reading YOUR BLOGS then they should go somewhere else and leave the rest of us learning from you and smiling along the way. Keep it up. Jeanette ��

    1. Hi JJ!
      Wow thanks for defending me so avidly here. I really do appreciate all of these lovely comments. I feel that the updates do vary quite a bit already as my mood on the particular day will do that. You know for me personally, if I have made somebody smile through my writing, or even with a photograph, that is justification enough.

      Many thanks Jeanette.
      JJ (the other one)

  4. Not read through your BRILLIANT ('cos I know it will be!) blog yet, and shall comment again once I have done so.
    Just felt I had to respond re your 'writing style'. As others have mentioned above, it is YOUR blog, and therefore, up to you how you write it. It is up to us whether we wish to follow it or not. I LOVE the interesting facts and stunning images mixed in with the humour each time!
    It makes it an exciting read and one I always look forward to!

    KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK!!! AND don't change a thing!! :-D


    1. Hello Maria,
      As somebody who probably comments above and beyond, and is also a font of knowledge regarding species identification, I feel particularly 'chuffed' that you are also in agreement about my writing/presentation style. I DO try and ensure that I never just throw out an update for the sake of it, but see nothing wrong either in frivolity to a point.

      To be fair, I don't think this person was intimating that I should change lock-stock and barrel to a more factual style, rather just expressing THEIR personal preference.

      Thanks again Maria,
      Much appreciated,

    2. Fair enough, but still, a blog is (so far as I've read), basically an online diary!
      Everyone has their preferred ways of doing diary entries, and it is entirely the author's decision as to how they do it! OUR personal preferences should only be related to which blogs we wish to follow!

      Anyhooooo! Have now read through and enjoyed (as I knew I would) this new entry. Fascinating about the collembola! Never knew there were species that fed on slug mucus! Urgh! Lol!
      Lovely to see the Click beetle as well!
      Cracking series of shots throughout as ever!


    3. Thanks yet again Maria..;-)
      You say....Urgh! But slug mucus may be a delicacy, have you ever tried it? ;-)

    4. Why no! Have you???? :-P

    5. That would be telling Maria, a man has to retain an air of mystery! ;-)

  5. The sillier the better, especially "That shallot folks". :-) There are plenty of rather boring factual bug blogs around.....

    I have always enjoyed your blog no matter whether you have been silly or not. Your photos are way better than most too. Love all those different springtails. I can't get macros that close up (and am not inspired to do macros at the moment anyway) so I can enjoy seeing what little things look like through your blog. Keep up the good work!

    1. Awe thanks so much Mandy. I so appreciate all the people like you who have taken time out to comment and be supportive. It makes it all worthwhile knowing you are there and enjoying.

      Good luck with your campervan exploites ;-)

  6. Dear JJ: I´ve tried sending you a message via the E-mail option on your blog in order to ask permission to use one of your images in a scholarly article, but have not heard back. My name is James T. Ramey, Ph.D., and I am a literature and film scholar at a university in Mexico City. I´m currently on sabbatical with Affiliate Faculty status at Georgetown University. I recently had an article on the filmmaker Luis Buñuel accepted for publication in the Bulletin of Spanish Studies, a very good journal based in Glasgow. I write to you because Buñuel studied entomology for two years before becoming a filmmaker, and my article argues that some mysterious elements in his first film, the surrealist "Un chien andalou" (1929), can be explained by knowledge of the different life stages of the A. atropos moth, an insect that appears in the film. Your excellent photograph of the recently eclosed A. atropos was a real inspiration to me as I was doing the research for this article and I would like to include it in the article. If you would be willing to grant permission, I would of course give you an important acknowledging credit. If you would like to read the manuscript before consenting, I would be happy to send it to you. I should mention that, although research combining entomology with humanist studies is relatively rare, I am personally very interested in the fascination for insects shared by many 20th century avant-garde writers and filmmakers, and have published several related articles, including one on the botfly in Vladimir Nabokov´s work and two on the louse in James Joyce´s work.
    Whatever your decision, I would be extremely grateful to hear back from you at your earliest convenience. Thank you very much for your consideration.
    James T. Ramey, Ph.D.
    Profesor Investigador Titular
    Departamento de Humanidades
    Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Unidad Cuajimalpa (UAM-C)
    Avenida Vasco de Quiroga 4871, Colonia Santa Fe
    Ciudad de México, D.F., 05300, México
    Tel. +52 (55) 5814-6500, ext. 3734

    1. Hello James,
      I apologise for you having problems with the contact option here. I am not sure why that would be, I have just used it to send myself a message to test if it is working and the message arrived right away.

      I would certainly be willing to allow you to use my photograph for your article as requested. It sounds most interesting. I would need to find the picture in my files and send to you. Do you have a timescale of when you would need the photo? It shouldn't take too long to locate.

      You can contact me at this address:

      Kind regards


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