Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Five firsts and a second...

Where to begin this latest update? Well I guess by admitting that I still haven't had the time to update the blog-layout; it will get done at some point though. The main reason being, and some of you will already know this, I have been away from not only the computer for a while, but also the UK

This update will heavily feature the bugs and insects I discovered in North America then? Nope! It takes time to edit the vast amount of photographs I took and then to try and ID them. It is underway though and will be appearing here real soon, that I promise. Meantime, let's once again celebrate our indigenous population of invertebrates...

Shall we start with a little guessing game? "Oh yes please Johnboy!!"

Now I think this is Helophilus pendulus; a hoverfly who's name apparently translates as: "Dangling marsh-lover". These are actually two different individuals taken at different times, but which one was photographed using flash do you think? Top or bottom? 

Awe, this is just perfect-a neato link into the next photo....

The two pictures above are of the longhorn beetle Rhagium mordax. Yes, I know this has a ridiculous common name, but people are probably getting fed up with me telling them it's the black-spotted pliers support beetle, so I am not going to mention it.
Anyhow, they were taken a few minutes apart, using the same 100mm macro lens, one in the direct sun and one (lower pic) using my body to put the beetle into the shade. Okay, the shaded version probably hasn't resolved as much detail but I personally prefer it. If at all possible, I always try to photograph out of the direct sunshine when using just natural light. 


Yes! Back in blighty and at last into an update. By the way, would you like to know where the term 'Blighty' comes from? Well Google it then! I am not the oracle...Not yet! (I mean, not yet to Google, not that I am not yet the oracle). Oh alright then, suppose I can't risk you departing, so a brief synopsis: It could be a distortion of the Urdu word ' vilayati' or possibly from the Hindustani word for home 'blitey'.  

There have been a few firsts for 2016 since I was last here. Here's the first....first...

Click on any photo for a larger view
A Red-headed Cardinal Beetle (Pyrochroa serraticornis)

Swiftly followed by the second first...

A Dock Bug (Coreus marginatus)
They may be common as.....well, common around 'ere, but it's always nice to spot my first of the year, especially as it is one of the few bugs I can remember both the Latin name of and the correct spelling; he says, hastily re-checking said spelling. I do have another bug that I can boast the same of, but that one is I discovered, still on the camera and so will have to wait for another update.

You knew it didn't you?
Coming next, the third first... 

A Hairy Shieldbug (Dolycoris baccarum)
And this is at least the second name that this third...first has had, that I know about. It used to be called a sloe bug.

It would seem churlish in the extreme, nay, remiss of me even, to stop now: Here it comes then. The fourth first...

A 22-spot Ladybird (Psyllobora vigintiduopunctata)

It might be one of our smallest ladybirds at 3-4mm but it sure as heck has one of the longest names!

Those then are my first finds for 2016 of each species. Shall we stop there and draw a line under the 'firsts'? Okay then, here it comes...


    The underlying problem with underlining is that it's not always final?

First number five...

It's worth 2 in the bush you know!
A couple more cockchafers? Certainly...

A Cockchafer (Melolontha melolontha) 

Let me see how confusing I can make this next sentence: These three fifth firsts were taken using the same 100mm macro lens but with natural light. Whereas the previous four firsts had the addition of flash. Would you be at all interested in the nerdy, techie stuff? Well I am interested in sharing with you and so you can either pretend you are interested or just skip this and move on to the next photo. f6.3 @ 1/250 sec. ISO-1600 Exposure bias +0.7.



There, I underlined my underlining to make it permanent.

Just before I move this update along, I feel the need to add an interesting fact about cockchafers. It's commonly thought (not by me) that it is the male cockchafer that has the feathered antennae. In fact both sexes do. The way to tell them apart is by counting the 'feathers'. Males have seven, whilst females have six.

Awe,awe....awe! Yet another nice little link. You might almost be fooled into thinking I planned this?

A Mayfly
You will have noticed that I just entitled this one 'a mayfly' that's because I have no idea of species. You don't need me to supply the link between these two images do you, you already guessed it, I can tell by that smug look on your face. Oh! That's just gas is it? Okay. The common name for a cockchafer is a may-bug, so we have a may-bug and a may-fly.

In the garden, I came across this lovely woundwort shieldbug whilst tidying up...

Bugs can turn up in the most unexpected places. Here's a tiny cucumber spider that I found recently...

A Cucumber Green Orb Spider (Araniella cucurbitina or A. opisthographer)

The two species we have in the UK are very difficult to tell apart. Especially given how small these are. The females (this is a female) can reach about 8mm but this one was only about 3mm. This little spider was not only inside the house when I found it, but had made its home in the back of the fridge! How it got there I have no idea; on vegetables or salad maybe? It has been released into the garden now.

My second longhorn beetle find was of this very small Hispidus species ...

I often find these in late, or even early spring but usually on trees, this one was way down in the long grass. I think it might be Pogonocherus hispidus, but there are a couple of really similar ones and so couldn't be sure. Here's a photo of that species I actually took in March of 2014...

I have run the moth trap a few times now but nothing of note to report this year yet. A few days ago I had this big bruiser, but haven't found an ID for him yet...

I think I might end this update with another, yet another, first. This will be my sixth first then...

A Hazel Leaf-roller Weevil (Apoderus coryli)
I have had a few people asking about what kit I use and also settings for my pictures and so I will add the stats for this picture again: 

Interestingly, well it interested me anyhow, was the fact that this hazel leaf-roller was not on hazel but birch.

And that concludes another update. I just have space to add a few tempters from my time away in America. The full story and pictures will follow in the next few weeks...

This gull was sitting on the dock of the bay, right beside the Bay Bridge in San Francisco and it let me walk right up close to it to get the following shot...

A view of San Francisco from the bay...

And the beautiful countryside I got to explore...


  1. Good to see you back JJ with another superb blog!
    Of the two hover shots, I reckon the top one is with flash... but most likely wrong!
    Interesting to see the comparisons.
    Dare I mention the spelling for your bugs??!?!? ;-)
    Nice to see more about now, and not before time. Some are quite a bit later this year.
    Great that you've seen all those Longhorns too. Only see C. arietis so far here.

    Loving the 'testers' you've posted from over the pond and can't wait to see more from your trip.
    (Specially if you found some True bugs!! :-))

    1. Hi Maria. Thanks for this speedy reaction. I won't tell you if you are right about the flash image just yet, in case anybody else wants to try...;-) Spellings? I guess you mean the missing 'g'...I sure wish I could get that fixed on this laptop, it just sticks and I don't always remember to check if it HAS worked ;-) No excuse about an added letter in the 'hairy' name tho!

      Thanks again.I shall enlighten you very soon about those American bugs ;-)

    2. BTW....Do tell if you spotted any other spelling errors, I completed this update at around 5.30am today and so it's entirely possible...

    3. Lol JJ! I probably wouldn't have noticed the spelling had you not mentioned it! ;-)

    4. PS When do you sleep????!?!?!?

    5. Damn! Must learn to keep my big mouth shut! ;-) Oh my sleep patterns have been haywire/erratic since getting home Maria...

  2. Hi JJ, I think the bottom sun fly is with flash, as fill flash does wonders in bright sunlight for getting rid of horrible stark sunlight as long as you have it adjusted down a bit.

    1. Hi Su,
      Thanks..I will reveal the correct answer in a little while...😊


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