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.
It seems that we have yet another new species record for the Country Park. Closterotomus norwegicus aka the Potato Capsid. This belongs to a large group of bugs collectively known as Mirid or Plant bugs and although it is called the Potato Capsid, the excellent British Bugs website tells us that it feeds on a wide range of plants, especially nettles, composites and clovers. Found yesterday on the Firehills not far from the radar.
Seen this morning from the Firehills, the fisheries patrol vessel Watchful whose home port is Shoreham and is capable of an impressive 23 knots and carries a crew of five. Her job is to protect the fisheries and conservation sites of Sussex and her duties include not only enforcement but marine research as well. She has a RIB that can be launched from the stern for boarding and inspection of fishing vessels at sea.
I have been keeping an eye on the birches where I first spotted the second instar nymphs and have managed to get a photo of final instar nymphs a week ago and today a number of adults. It seems that the adults photo is a little special as a couple of experienced recorders of shieldbugs have not seen adults crowded together thus on a leaf. I have only found one other similar photo on the internet so it would seem that not many people get to see this as the adults split up quickly it would seem and I am rather privileged to be one of those.
Also seen today 3rd and 4th instar Birch Shieldbug nymphs.
Well, persistence as recommended to me has paid off and I have to thank Taughtus for that and all the help with shieldbug and other id’s! Accessible online records do not show any records for Parent Bug at the Country Park, so I’m presenting this as a new record for the Country Park, 35+, 2nd instar Parent Bug nymphs on a birch leaf on the Firehills. To put this in perspective, this is not considered a rare species, this just highlights the lack of co-ordinated monitoring on the largest nature reserve within the borough of Hastings. The records on this site are provided gratis and with no encouragement from Hastings Borough Council. I hope to return to the area at a later date to record an adult. Also found this morning, an adult Forest Bug, which I am told is the first record of an adult for the Country Park.
In the rough dry grass of the Firehills during the long lazy days of summer we might glimpse the jewel like beauty of a Ruby-tailed Wasp. These small colourful wasps are cuckoo species that are associated with specific hosts. A visit to the Firehills this week has seen two species of Hedychridium. One has a dull red abdomen and is a little larger, Hedychridium roseum is frequently found in open sunny areas and is closely associated with a Crabronid wasps as its host. The second species was even more colourful but a little smaller. It is always worth keeping an eye open for Ruby-tailed Wasps as their colour never fails to please.