Hunting through parched grass in the quarry in the hope of finding interesting insects, a wasp of a new family was found. The family is Bethylidae, and the wasp is Epyris niger. It was entirely black, approximately 4mm long, and had a prognathous head. Microscope examination proved it to be a most interesting insect that is evidently quite a serious predator. It has a powerful sting to disable larvae of lepidoptera and coleoptera which are then dragged away – eggs are laid on the prey. This is another new species to add to the ever-growing list for the Country Park.
I must apologise to anyone who has tried to download the full Country Park leaflet recently. I was not aware that the link was broken. All restored now (until the next time!) and the updated map is now on the map page.
No this is nothing to do with internet malware! It is a reference to the Shakespeare play Troilus and Cressida. Today’s new record for the Country Park (and for me) is Troilus luridus aka Bronze Shieldbug. This is a predatory shieldbug which preys on a variety of other insects. My find is a final instar nymph which is possibly the most striking phase of it’s life cycle. The contrast between the green, white and metallic bronze is an amazing sight!
A couple of interesting photos today, the first is also a first for me as it is a teneral adult Birch Shieldbug. The teneral stage occurs when the final instar nymph moults into an adult and the exoskeleton has not yet hardened and it is very pale in colour. The first picture is the teneral and the second is a mature adult for comparison.
The third photo is of a pair of Parent Bugs mating to produce what I understand to be a second brood at this time of year. I am told that the female mates with a different male to the one of the first brood.
On Monday I was sent a photo by a regular dog walker at the Country Park of a beetle. I was able to identify it as a Violet Ground Beetle, Carabus violaceus, which I have not seen before at the Country Park and consulting online records and another regular recorder at the Country Park who specialises in entymology (insects), there are no previous records. So this must be another first record for the Country Park. This beetle is possibly under recorded as it hunts at night for slugs, worms and other insects and by day is invariably lurking under a stone.
A new species for the Country Park is great but when it is also a new record for East Sussex as well!! I have just had verification from the National Weevil and Bark Bug recording scheme that this is the case for a weevil, Curculio betulae that I found on a birch catkin on the Firehills last Tuesday.
Another new Thrips has been found and identified in the Country Park. It was found on the gorse, grass and heather stubble that has established on the Firehills since the removal of single-age blocks of gorse. The insect is just under 1mm long and required the skills of an expert to identify it. Enquiries were made to Dr.Manfred Ulitzka in Offenburg who has identified it as a micropterous female Sericothrips staphylinus.
Dr.Ulitzka made some very good pictures that show much greater detail than I am able to achieve and we are grateful both for his help in identifying the Thrips and his permission to reproduce the images here. The second picture shows characteristic microtrichia on the metascutellum.
It has been interesting to see the great increase in insect biodiversity on the Firehills since the removal of those old single-age blocks of gorse that supported very little life. It was an excellent piece of habitat improvement. We can only hope that future management decisions might be evidence based rather than led by the latest grant availability.