This week the parking ticket machines at the Country Park that have been locked up since one was broken into in November have been brought back into use. A Ranger also informed us that as from 1st April there will be an increase in the charges. £2.50 for 2 hours, £3.50 for all day and £50.00 for a season ticket. We also know of at least one enforcement ticket being issued today.
Wildlife in the Country Park takes many and varied forms, some are easier to see than others. The most challenging thus far is a wasp. It was found in long grass at the helipad and is a parasitoid of a species of weevil and a cranefly. At just under 0.5mm long it is difficult to be certain of the identification, but Anaphes regulus of the Mymaridae is the most likely. The Mymaridae family of wasps are commonly known as Fairyflies owing to their tiny size and remarkable fringed wings. They are the only family of parasitoid wasps to have a common name.
Bare patches in the former hedgeline on the Firehills provide a relatively sheltered warm microclimate that is a degree or two higher than the surrounding area. Consequently these bare areas are always worth a close look when seeking insects as so many are more active at higher temperatures since they live at the northern edge of their range in this country. A recent visit found a Turtle Shieldbug Podops inuncta. This species is not uncommon, yet it is infrequently found since its colouration blends so well with the soil and it is a ground dwelling species. It has not been previously recorded in the Country Park, nor in the local area. It has another common name, the Knobbed Shieldbug referencing those peculiar protuberances at the shoulder.
Ghostly goings on in the Quarry? Well actually no. These webs are created by Tetranycus lintearius the Gorse Spider Mite. The adults are half a millimetre long and bright red. A native to Europe, it has been introduced to other countries as a biological control measure, although it does not actually kill gorse it can reduce flowering and stunt the development of branches. The mites pierce the tissues of the plant whilst feeding.
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.