Monday, April 17, 2017

The benefits of a collection

In a recent post I was struggling with some comparative features of a Xantholinus rove beetle. From the keys it seemed like gallicus was the best fit but as I had limited-to-zero experience with that genus, I took the specimen down to the NHM when I visited earlier this month for the weevil workshop.

Max Barclay kindly got out the examples from the NHM's British collection of that genus and once I had them all lined up it was clear that my specimen was a linearis the most regularly encountered member of the genus.

The NHM's British specimens of Xantholinus
gallicus. These looked distinctly different to my specimen,

This reinforced the importance of being able to compare things to a well curated reference collection as many of these features only become clear when you can compare 100s of individuals side by side. Later in the day this was even more relevant as we looked at Sitona weevils!!

I also had a look at a few light-trapped Amara that I have kept hold of and compared them to similar species in the NHM collection.. I think they are consularis but this genus seems particularly subjective so I'll hang on for further specimens to compare to!

A selection of Amara

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Fear no weevil

I've not really delved much into weevils apart from the glaringly obvious ones. I collected a few last year but had ended up putting them in the box of unidentified beetles.

This all changed on April 1st when I attended a weevil workshop run by Mark Gurney (Weevil scheme organiser) and hosted at Natural History Museum by Max Barclay.

The two main things I learned (apart form lots about weevils) was
1. I need a better microscope
2. having a range of specimens to compare to is invaluable.

It was a great day and I learned a fair bit. It was great to have someone there to help you spot your mistakes and by the end of the day I had managed to put a name to all the weevil specimens I had brought with me.

Max also gave us a tour of the beetle collection at the NHM which was an unexpected bonus and impressive in its scale.

Also met some other folk with similar interests which is always nice.

All in all a grand day out.

Check out Mark's free guides to the British weevils here.

Exapion ulicilis. Only 3 or 4 of millimetres. Rather pleased with my carding!