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A day in the life …

… of an entomological consultant. Yesterday was a pretty typical day, surveying a site which is proposed for development. I’m not able to reveal the location but it is a site with a mix of unmanaged grassland and secondary woodland. I spent a little over 6 hours in the field, concentrating my efforts on sweeping and beating. It almost goes without saying that I wore full waterproofs throughout though there was sunshine between the showers.

I worked yesterday evening and from early this morning to finish all the identification work and I’ve listed 102 species for the site. It is always my aim to record over 100 species from a day’s survey but I only just scraped over the line yesterday. I would expect more and I’m tending to agree with others who are saying that this is a poor spring for insects.

The list includes one Red Data Book species and five Nationally Scarce species, though, as is so often the case, some of these statuses are in need of revision for species which have become commoner and more widespread. But they are still useful species for assessing the conservation importance of the site.

I was really pleased to find the RDB hoverfly Rhingia rostrata: only the second one I’ve seen after Dave Gibbs showed me one last year. And there were two species which I got the camera out for. They’re just superb beasts and I don’t think I will ever get tired of seeing them!

Centrotus cornutus, a treehopper

Attelabus nitens, the Oak Leaf-roller

Coproporus immigrans is a recent arrival in Britain, specialising in woodchip piles, and I’d only seen it on two previous occasions before yesterday. Here it was in quite an old woodchip pile with thistles growing out of it, though it favours fresh woodchip.

Coproporus immigrans, a distinctive tachyporine rove-beetle

It’s not my aim on survey work to look for species I’ve never seen before: it’s about playing to my strengths and giving the client best value for money, rather than trying to get ticks. But I usually manage a few new species and yesterday I cut open a currant gall on oak for the first time to see the larva of Neuroterus quercusbaccarum within. Also, the common mirid bug Dicyphus globulifer was a new one for me, from a group which I’m tackling more seriously since I acquired Suomen Luteet.

Species (scientific name) Species (English name) Conservation Status
Oniscus asellus Common Shiny Woodlouse None
Porcellio scaber Common Rough Woodlouse None
Nuctenea umbratica a spider None
Pisaura mirabilis a spider None
Glomeris marginata Pill Millipede None
Cylindroiulus punctatus Blunt-tailed Millipede None
Forficula auricularia Common Earwig None
Leptophyes punctatissima Speckled Bush-cricket None
Centrotus cornutus a treehopper None
Dicyphus globulifer a mirid bug None
Deraeocoris lutescens a mirid bug None
Liocoris tripustulatus a mirid bug None
Miris striatus a mirid bug None
Stenodema laevigata a mirid bug None
Harpocera thoracica a mirid bug None
Anthocoris confusus a flower bug None
Anthocoris nemorum a flower bug None
Kleidocerys resedae a ground-bug None
Pentatoma rufipes Red-legged Shieldbug None
Paradromius linearis a ground beetle None
Ptinella aptera a featherwing beetle None
Euplectus karstenii a pselaphine rove-beetle None
Tachyporus hypnorum a rove-beetle None
Coproporus immigrans a rove-beetle None
Stenus flavipes a rove-beetle None
Trixagus dermestoides a beetle None
Athous haemorrhoidalis a click-beetle None
Agriotes pallidulus a click-beetle None
Cantharis decipiens a soldier-beetle None
Rhagonycha lignosa a soldier-beetle None
Epuraea pallescens a beetle None
Meligethes carinulatus a pollen beetle None
Meligethes nigrescens a pollen beetle None
Byturus ochraceus a beetle None
Cerylon histeroides a beetle None
Rhyzobius litura a ladybird None
Exochomus quadripustulatus Pine Ladybird None
Propylea quattuordecimpunctata 14-spot Ladybird None
Coccinella septempunctata 7-spot Ladybird None
Cortinicara gibbosa a beetle None
Mycetophagus piceus a beetle Nationally Scarce (Nb)
Mordellochroa abdominalis a tumbling flower-beetle None
Nalassus laevioctostriatus a darkling beetle None
Ischnomera cyanea a beetle Nationally Scarce (Nb)
Oedemera lurida a beetle None
Pyrochroa coccinea Black-headed Cardinal Beetle Nationally Scarce (Nb)
Salpingus planirostris a beetle None
Anaspis frontalis a beetle None
Anaspis fasciata a beetle None
Anaspis maculata a beetle None
Bruchus rufimanus a seed-beetle None
Lochmaea crataegi Hawthorn Leaf-beetle None
Longitarsus luridus a flea-beetle None
Crepidodera aurea a flea-beetle None
Lasiorhynchites olivaceus a weevil Nationally Scarce (Na)
Tatianaerhynchites aequatus a weevil None
Attelabus nitens Oak Leaf-roller None
Aspidapion aeneum a weevil None
Protapion fulvipes White Clover Seed Weevil None
Protapion trifolii a weevil None
Perapion curtirostre a weevil None
Perapion hydrolapathi a weevil None
Apion frumentarium a weevil None
Ischnopterapion loti a weevil None
Phyllobius roboretanus Small Green Nettle Weevil None
Phyllobius pyri Common Leaf Weevil None
Sitona lepidus a weevil None
Magdalis armigera a weevil None
Rhinoncus pericarpius a weevil None
Ceutorhynchus typhae a weevil None
Ceutorhynchus obstrictus a weevil None
Trichosirocalus troglodytes a weevil None
Nedyus quadrimaculatus Small Nettle Weevil None
Anthonomus pedicularius a weevil None
Anthonomus rubi a weevil None
Curculio glandium Acorn Weevil None
Archarius pyrrhoceras a weevil None
Gymnetron pascuorum a weevil None
Neuroterus quercusbaccarum f. sexual Currant gall causer None
Biorhiza pallida f. sexual Oak-apple causer None
Lasius brunneus Brown Tree Ant Nationally Scarce (Na)
Lasius niger sens. str. an ant None
Myrmica rubra an ant None
Myrmica scabrinodis an ant None
Bombus hortorum Small Garden Bumblebee None
Bombus pascuorum Common Carder-bee None
Panorpa germanica a scorpion-fly None
Rhagio scolopaceus Downlooker Snipefly None
Beris chalybata Murky-legged Black Legionnaire None
Microchrysa polita Black-horned Gem None
Empis tessellata a dance fly None
Melanostoma mellinum a hoverfly None
Sphaerophoria scripta a hoverfly None
Rhingia campestris a hoverfly None
Rhingia rostrata a hoverfly RDB3
Neoascia podagrica a hoverfly None
Syritta pipiens a hoverfly None
Tephritis neesii a picture-winged fly None
Anthophila fabriciana Nettle-tap None
Pieris rapae Small White LC
Pararge aegeria Speckled Wood LC
Monacha cantiana Kentish Snail None

Where there’s muck …

On a visit to Langley Park on 24th March, I was tempted to have ‘a quick look’ at a heap of stable waste; a mix of hay, woodchip and horse dung. It was an unseasonably hot and sunny day and the heap was swarming with beetles. I tried to be selective and not create too much homework for myself but even so, there were a lot of good things: five beetles I’d never seen before and several more which I’ve seen only once or twice.

Some highlights, illustrating how many recently arrived species can be found by searching in muck-heaps of various sorts.

Edaphus beszedesi (Staphylinidae, Euaesthetinae) was discovered new to Britain c.2006 by Peter Hammond from two heaps near Windsor, and published by Lott and Anderson (2011). I found it at a stable in south Bucks in 2008 but it still doesn’t seem to have been turned up by many other people.

Euconnus duboisi (Staphylinidae, Scydmaeninae). This was new to me and had me really puzzled. Given the very real chance of discovering beetles new to Britain in this sort of habitat, I was already thinking along those lines when I couldn’t key it to any of the known British scydmaenine genera. But in discussion with Peter Hammond, I’m pretty satisfied that it is E. duboisi. This species was added to the British list in 1945 (too late to be included in Joy’s keys) and is not included in Freude, Harde and Lohse vol. 3.

There don't appear to be any other images of Euconnus duboisi on the internet, and it is quite a perplexing species to identify with the usual literature. So hopefully this photo will help others who may come across it.

Cryptophilus integer (Erotylidae). At the time, this species had the cachet of being the sole British member of the family Languriidae but the 2012 checklist has lumped it in with Erotylidae. It is an extremely dull little brown job, resembling a Cryptophagus. It was discovered new to Britain c.2007 but has been found quite widely in London and surrounding area, mostly in woodchip heaps.

Hypomedon debilicornis (Staphylinidae, Paederinae) was discovered, new to Britain, in Northamptonshire in 1989 from solidified farm slurry. It was next reported from a manure heap in North Hampshire in 1996. I know of more recent records for Surrey, Norfolk, Bucks and Berks and I think it has become more widely established.

Mycetophagus quadriguttatus (Mycetophagidae) is a Nationally Scarce (Na) saproxylic found in association with fungi and mouldy debris of old broad-leaved trees. However, it also occurs in synanthropic situations such as food-stores, granaries and stables (in mouldy hay). Seems to be turning up more frequently in recent years.

Clambus simsoni (Clambidae) was added to the British list in 1997 and has become a fairly regular feature of woodchip piles.

Sericoderus lateralis (Corylophidae). A single female was the first I’d seen since 2004 of this once common species which appears to have been largely usurped by the Australian S. brevicornis (as discussed here).

My species list, with the ones I’d not seen before in bold.

Order Family Species (scientific name) Quantity Sex
Coleoptera Carabidae Syntomus obscuroguttatus 1 not recorded
Coleoptera Hydrophilidae Cryptopleurum minutum 2 not recorded
Coleoptera Histeridae Carcinops pumilio 1 not recorded
Coleoptera Histeridae Atholus bimaculatus 1 not recorded
Coleoptera Scydmaenidae Euconnus duboisi 1 male
Coleoptera Scydmaenidae Scydmaenus tarsatus Common not recorded
Coleoptera Scydmaenidae Scydmaenus rufus Common not recorded
Coleoptera Staphylinidae Micropeplus fulvus 5 male
Coleoptera Staphylinidae Trichiusa immigrata 2 not recorded
Coleoptera Staphylinidae Edaphus beszedesi Several not recorded
Coleoptera Staphylinidae Astenus pulchellus 4 not recorded
Coleoptera Staphylinidae Hypomedon debilicornis 1 not recorded
Coleoptera Staphylinidae Philonthus discoideus 1 not recorded
Coleoptera Staphylinidae Bisnius sordidus 1 male
Coleoptera Staphylinidae Leptacinus pusillus 1 male
Coleoptera Staphylinidae Phacophallus pallidipennis 1 male
Coleoptera Staphylinidae Gyrohypnus fracticornis 1 not recorded
Coleoptera Clambidae Clambus pubescens 8 not recorded
Coleoptera Clambidae Clambus simsoni 1 not recorded
Coleoptera Monotomidae Monotoma bicolor s.s. 26 not recorded
Coleoptera Monotomidae Monotoma brevicollis 1 not recorded
Coleoptera Monotomidae Monotoma spinicollis 4 not recorded
Coleoptera Monotomidae Monotoma testacea 1 not recorded
Coleoptera Cryptophagidae Atomaria apicalis 1 female
Coleoptera Cryptophagidae Atomaria lewisi 2 not recorded
Coleoptera Cryptophagidae Atomaria testacea 1 not recorded
Coleoptera Cryptophagidae Ephistemus globulus 1 male
Coleoptera Languriidae Cryptophilus integer 1 not recorded
Coleoptera Cerylonidae Cerylon histeroides 1 not recorded
Coleoptera Endomychidae Holoparamecus caularum 12 not recorded
Coleoptera Corylophidae Orthoperus aequalis 1 male
Coleoptera Corylophidae Sericoderus lateralis 1 female
Coleoptera Latridiidae Enicmus histrio 1 female
Coleoptera Latridiidae Cartodere nodifer 1 not recorded
Coleoptera Mycetophagidae Mycetophagus quadriguttatus 1 not recorded
Coleoptera Tenebrionidae Alphitophagus bifasciatus 3 not recorded
Dermaptera Labiidae Labia minor (Lesser Earwig) Several not recorded
Isopoda Porcellionidae Porcellionides pruinosus Common not recorded