Friday, 30 November 2012

The Red Lily Beetle (Lilioceris lilii) in a Darwen, Lancashire, garden

November 29, 2012:

A Red Lily Beetle was found on lily tubers in a garden in Darwen today despite the recent cold, frosty weather. This appears to be well outside its normal time of emergence. The larvae feed on the tubers and are the scourge of the lily cultivator. Similar in size to the 7-spot Ladybird, they are much more strikingly bright red in colour.


Saturday, 17 November 2012

Some recent Coleoptera (Beetles)

A range of Coleoptera from tiger beetles to ladybirds has been photographed recently and some of these are now shown here.

Dune Tiger Beetle (Cicindela hybrida), Ainsdale dunes, Lancashire, September 6, 2012.
 Only known in Britain from limited areas of the west Lancashire and Cumbrian coasts 

Green Tiger Beetle (Cicindela campestris), Foulshaw Moss, Cumbria, September 20, 2011

Devil's Coach Horse (Ocypus olens) Silverdale, Lancashire, October 7, 2011

A burying beetle (Nicrophorus vespilloides, Brockholes Wetlands, Lancashire, August 31, 2011

Hazel Leaf Roller (Apoderus coryli) Silverdale, September 29, 2012

Alder leaf beetle (Agelastica alni), Brockholes Wetlands, October 8, 2012. This is currently the most northerly record in Britain

Blue Willow Beetle (Phratora vulgatissima), Brockholes Wetlands, October 8, 2012

A soldier beetle (Rhagonchya fulva), Brockholes Wetlands, July 10, 2011

 A ground beetle (Pterostichus madidus), Latterbarrow, Cumbria, July 3, 2012

Green Nettle Weevil (Phyllobius pomaceus), Brockholes Wetlands, May 6, 2012

A leaf beetle (Chrysolina polita), Brockholes Wetlands, August 19,2011

Malachius coccineus, Nikoklea, Cyprus, April 22, 2012

A longhorn beetle (Leptura [Strangalia] maculata), Premanon, Jura, France, July 19, 2012

Water Ladybird (Anisosticta novemdecimpunctata), Brockholes Wetlands, September 9, 2011

Cream-spot Ladybird (Calvia quattuordecimguttata), Brockholes Wetlands, August 31, 2011

16-spot Ladybird (Tytthaspis sedecimpunctata), Eckington,Worcestershire, June 20, 2012

14-spot Ladybird (Propylea quattuordecimpunctata), Brockholes Wetlands, September 8, 2011 

11-spot Ladybird (Coccinella undecimpunctata), Brockholes Wetlands, November 6, 2012

10-spot Ladybird (Adalia decempunctata), Brockholes Wetlands, August 30/September 2, 2011

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Large Blue (Maculinea arion) at Collard Hill, Somerset

June 28, 2012: (a belated posting)
A long day's round-trip to Collard Hill, near Glastonbury, fortunately coincided with some warm and periodically sunny weather. This is one of the sites where the formerly extinct Large Blue butterfly has been recently re-introduced. Here, on the south-facing sunny slopes is the ideal habitat with abundant wild thyme food-plant and the equally essential symbiotic red ant (Myrmica sabuleti) present in quantity.

In a four-hour period at least eight Large Blues were seen (including two very worn specimens and a female egg-laying on thyme), although they rarely settled and were extremely difficult to follow over the very steep slopes. They were also reluctant to fly other than in full sunshine and it was especially frustrating when a cloud bank settled overhead and darkened the slope although bright sunshine could be seen on the fields close by. Despite this, it was possible to eventually obtain a few photographs.

An ovipositing female

A very worn individual


Friday, 7 September 2012

Roesel's Bush-crickets (Metrioptera roeselii) in Lancashire

August 10 & 31, 2012:
A small population of Roesel's Bush-crickets was first located near the coast at Fleetwood about twenty years ago. This is well to the north of the normal British range of this usually southern species and had presumably originated by individuals having been brought into the area accidentally with the help of man.


A recent search of the site on the above dates indicated it to be now well established and likely to have extended its local range appreciably. Males were singing regularly amongst rough grasslend and bramble over a 200 metres stretch of a low sheltered embankment.

A male flexing his antennae

These are quite attractive crickets, easily recognised by the prominent broad cream-coloured edge to the side plates of the pronotum. At one point at least four separate individuals were seen in a small 15cm diameter area within a bramble patch, one male rapidly flexing his long antennae to ward off another intruder.

Close-up views of a male (above)

A late nymphal stage female

Monday, 20 August 2012

Three Grasshopper species at Ainsdale, Lancashire

July 30 & August 2:
An area of sandy grassland near to a major nature reserve at Ainsdale had three species of grasshopper. In short dry turf where there were rabbit scrapes in the sandy soil, Mottled Grasshopper (Myrmeleotettix maculatus) was very frequent and present in a wide range of colour forms varying from green, through brown, to black. This is a relatively small grasshopper in comparison to the two other species found here: the Field Grasshopper (Chorthippus brunneus) widespread across most of the area and the Common Green Grasshopper (Omocestus viridulus) restricted to the longer, more dense grassland on the west side. Some colour forms of the Mottled Grasshopper are shown below and may result from cryptic adaptation to the habitat.

Green forms above, brown forms below

A black form of the Mottled Grasshopper

Two colour forms of the Field Grasshopper also occur here: a brown one which is the commoner, and a green one. This species is very hairy below the abdomen which can also have a reddish tip.

Field Grasshopper in  two colour forms

On the other hand the Common Green Grasshopper was only found in its most typical form.