Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Long time no see

When we first moved into our house in 2011, I would occasionally find myself in the kitchen in the middle of the night. Along with mice and slugs the other nocturnal residents included a few Cellar or Churchyard Beetles Blaps mucronata. We subsequently gutted and renovated the property and whilst I still see the occasional slug and mouse I'd not seen a Cellar Beetle again until this morning.

I think they they are our biggest tenebrioid beetle and they are very distinctive with pointed ends to their elytra. They used to be fairly common in homes where they would live below floorboards and scavenge any crumbs which fell through the gaps (which is exactly what they do in my house). But they have apparently declined quite drastically in recent decades.

So nice to see that they cling on in this part of Cambridgeshire.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Struggling with staphs

So I've been trying to ID a bunch of staphs that I have left over from last season and I must admit to having mixed success. They certainly aren't easy. Well at least for me!

Take this one for instance

I think this a Xantholinus sp. At 8mm and with microstructure (but not too strong microstructure) it keys out as Xantholinus gallicus - but there aren't many records on NBN and I guess I'll need to wait and compare to some known specimens in a collection somewhere.

Someone somewhere reading this will be asking what the $%£@ is microstructure?

So glad you asked.....

You can make it out at about 40x magnification but it's the very fine structure (in this case) on the pronotum

Microstructure of Xantholinus gallicus (credit 
Pretty nifty when you see it well.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Not on my radar

I put the MV trap out on Friday evening as the temperature had picked up a bit. When I checked it first thing the next morning there was a moth sat just below the bulb that immediately had me scratching my head.

I soon worked out that it was a Small Eggar Eriogaster lanestris, a moth that I'd never really expected to see in the garden. It's now a reasonably scarce species and the larvae are more likely to be encountered in one of their communal silken tents. However, they do come to light every once in a while and a perusal of various Facebook moth groups has turned up a few records over the weekend.

It was a lovely moth. I wonder how long it will take to trap another?