Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘Beetles’

Billy witches

June bug, Melolontha melolontha, male

Melolontha melolontha – Male

I’ve not posted for a while. Working freelance has kept me busy and much of my spare time has been spent either keying out specimens, uploading insect and wildlife records, writing reports or more enjoyably attending various insect workshops. At the last one, on Caribidae (Ground beetles) I got chatting to a young lady at the microscope opposite me. Ashleigh works in Edinburgh as a curatorial assistant (Entomology) for National Museums, Scotland and I mentioned that sometimes flying beetles get attracted to my moth-trap. Not quite so welcome are the big, up to 30mm long ‘Spang Beetles’ or ‘Billy Witches’ more commonly known as the Common Cockchafer Melolontha melolontha.

Read more

Advertisements

Rosemary, lavender, sage and thyme

Rosemary Beetle, Chrysolina americana

Chrysolina americana

Twenty years ago you would be lucky to see this attractive metallic green and purple-striped beetle outside a greenhouse. The Rosemary Beetle Chrysolina americana was first discovered living outdoors in Surrey in 1994. Since then it has become widespread throughout southern England. They are commonly found on aromatic herbs, mainly rosemary but also on lavender, sage and thyme.

This one was found on rosemary whilst I was attending a course on bumblebees in Winchester, Hampshire.

Try to set the night on fire

Fire Bug – Pyrrhocoris apterus

Pyrrhocoris apterus

The recent run of warm weather here in the UK has been a reminder of how hot it was when I visited Cyprus in April. This little chap was one of the first insects I encountered in the village of Frenaros where my mum and dad now live. My reason for showing it here is that this strikingly coloured red and black bug, that looks as though it has an african mask painted on its back, may be spreading northwards into England. Recently it has been found in Devon. Previously there have been small colonies in Surrey and Sussex and sporadic reports elsewhere. Although Britain has traditionally marked the northernmost edge of its range it has been a native of Jersey and Guernsey in the Channel Islands for some time now. In the last decade the populations there have increased greatly. So it may be an insect worth looking out for in future.

It proved a particularly difficult subject to photograph. Being almost manically active due to the very warm temperature. It wouldn’t keep still, even for a fraction of a second, and so the vast majority of my photos were just slightly blurred. But I persevered over several days and eventually succeeded in getting this image. Read more

Lesser Stag Beetle

Dorcus parallelipipedus – Male

Dorcus parallelipipedus – Male

It’s a funny old business this entomology lark. I came across this large beetle whilst carrying out my monthly Riverfly survey on the River Og in Marlborough. After a bit of research I discovered it was a Lesser Stag Beetle Dorcus parallelipipedus which is normally found in deciduous woods. It feeds on sap and breeds in rotting stumps, particularly Ash, Beech and Apple. Then a week later I found one walking across my kitchen floor. Well there are no trees in the kitchen but the units themselves are certainly in a state of decay. Shortly they will find themselves in a recycling skip. The time has come to install the new kitchen that has been stacked in the lounge for the past 3 years. Read more

An inordinate fondness for beetles

Scarlet Lily Beetle

Liloceris lilii

According to Evans and Bellamy’s book of the same name, when asked what could be inferred about the creator from His works, the British scientist Haldane allegedly replied “an inordinate fondness for beetles”. Whether he actually said this or not is disputed, for a start he was an atheist, but you can’t argue with the numbers. Over 350,000 species of beetle have been described since 1758, that’s more than 4 per day.

I’m pretty fond of them too, even little red devils like the one pictured above. Resplendent in black uniform and grenadier coat Liloceris lilii more commonly known as the Scarlet Lily Beetle is nonetheless a serious pest of lilies and fritillaries, eating its way through the stems, leaves and flowers. Mine have been totally devastated this year. This alien invader from ‘somewhere in the Mediterranean’ was accidentally introduced to England in 1939 and although primarily found in the south, it is now endearing itself to gardeners as far north as Scotland. Read more