Thursday, September 19, 2019

Brash Americans

I managed only a quick 20 minute break break at lunchtime today and went and peered at some small ponds. I noticed this bug sat on some of the aquatic vegetation. Not exactly where I had expected to see it but its food plant was nearby, a species I've been meaning bump into for a while Graphocephala fennahi or the Rhododendron Leafhopper.

This species is native to the USA, and was introduced to Europe in the early 20th century. Both adults and larvae feed on Rhododendron sap, and it is one of the few insects to use this invasive plant as a foodplant. It's rather pretty too.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

A tropical interloper

Last night I notice a small beetle crawling on the inside pane of the kitchen window. I potted it and had a quick look under the microscope. It was about 3mm long and had a couple of abdominal segments exposed beyond the elytra.

It was as I had first assumed one of the Nitidulidae or pollen beetles and it keyed easily to Carpophilus marginellus, another new beetle for me. It's not one I can find much info on and it's not covered in the RES Pollen Beetles book by Kirk-Spriggs. All I can find is that it was introduced from tropical areas to Europe and is pretty reliant on humans and their stored products.

So I'd better go and check the biscuit tin!

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

It's time to get some bembid heaven

So, this day in the field seems like another life time ago now but I've finally got round to ID'ing some of the trickier beetles I found on this day back in June. Whilst working up at Abernethy Forest in the Cairngorms I managed a few hours exploring the river shingle on the River Feshie.

I was really lucky as the weather was dry and warm and was a vast improvement on the previous days' rather patchy weather. This wasn't a habitat that I'd ever looked at before and despite all the interesting looking plants I decided to stick to beetles. Specifically I wanted to see if I could find a selection of Bembidion species that I wouldn't necessarily have encountered elsewhere.

There was a real mix of substrate types to search through, from really fine sandy sediment through to large rocks intermixed with gravel. There was also fast running river water and smaller areas of standing water left over from spring meltwater.

There were also good numbers of Dingy Skippers on the wing seemingly flying up every few metres as I walked the banks- cue crap photo alert!

One of the beetles I had hoped to bump in to quickly gave itself up, 5-spot ladybird Coccinella 5-punctata. This species is a river shingle specialist and I found them in small patches of vegetation around the edges of the river. Easy to see as they moved along the ground.

5-spot ladybird Coccinella 5-punctata

There were also a few of these Amara fulva under stones in some of the areas with smaller gravel.

Click beetles came in the rather robust form of Hypnoides riparius. 6.5mm but built like a brick shit house.

As for Bembids well the most noticeable was Bracteon litorale. There were loads of these beetles scurrying around on sand patches when the sun came out. They're a reasonable size at around 6mm and an easy one to ID with the four 'mirrors' on the elytra.

Bracteon litorale
 The next most commonly encountered one was Bembidion tibiale.
Female Bembidion tibiale
 This proved a bit more difficult to key out as I was questioning how straight the base of the pronotum was.  Finding a male made the identification much easier and the aedagus fits tibiale nicely.
Aedagus of Bembidion tibale to confirm
There were also lots of these guys and girls which will probably turn out to all be Bembidion tetracolum but I reckon that some might actually be B. bualei. The characteristics are subtle enough that I'm going to need to compare with some known specimens to make doubly sure.

Whatever they turn out to be it was an amazing few hours in a stunning part of the world and I'd really like to get back for a further look.

And here's the track that inspired the title....