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Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, beetling man …

This is Peter Hammond at Langley Park demonstrating his Pat-a-Cake method with fine sievings from red-rotten heartwood.

Here’s a technique for finding the sort of tiny beetles that are so small or well camouflaged that you can’t see them until they move. Try it next summer:

  1. Tip the sievings onto a sheet in full sun, preferably on a hot surface such as sun-baked tarmac.
  2. Pat the sievings down into a very thin layer.
  3. Lay aside your pipe.
  4. Take up your pooter.
  5. Get comfy.
  6. Wait for rare beetles to break cover as the heat starts to bother them.

We were looking for the tiny pselaphine Plectophloeus nitidus, which we didn’t find. But we did see the very distinctive larvae of Scraptia (Scraptiidae) with their bulbous tails that they autotomise (self-amputate) under duress.

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