It is end of season for the tomato plant my neighbour had kindly given me in a hanging basket. It had been bountiful in fruit, but it was it now in its last days as autumn approaches, and I had the thought to look more closely at it before dropping it in the recyling bin.
I have never seen a member of this family of beetles before. Latridiidae are known as ‘scavanger’ or ‘mould beetles’. This one is very small at 2 mm (5/64 in) long, and is called Cartodere bifasciata. It feeds on spores and moulds found on rotting plant materials.
There were several of these green leafhoppers, adults and possible larvae. Called Empoasca decipiens, one of 3 very similar UK species, they extract sap from the plant on which they feed.
Like a scene from the film Alien, I discovered the dead remains of this wingless aphid. You can’t miss the obvious hole in the abdomen where something … probably a braconid wasp … burst out.
We have a live aphid here … most likely the Peach-potato Aphid (Myzus (Nectarosiphon) persicae). The apterae (lacking wings) are generally yellowish-green but vary from whitish or pale yellowish green to mid-green, rose-pink or red. They are often darker in cold conditions.
Another parasitised aphid all tethered … which goes to show that nature has a way of keeping the equilibrium.
I also spotted several running-crab spiders and money spiders … but all too quick and unwilling to hang around for a photo shoot. So even within its death throws a plant can still support so much life … and just focusing the mind and the eyes on a different plane can open up so much.
I have now recorded 999 species on this website, from plants to animals, fungi and even a cyanobacterium. I have stopped short of making this post ‘1000’ as the 999th species convinced me to use it as a marker milestone. Not surprising it happens to be an invertebrate, an arthropod, and an insect at that.
Attactagenus plumbeus is a member of the Curculionidae family which make up the weevils. What is so special about this species apart from its own uniqueness is is scarcity. Data gleamed from the NBN Atlas shows only 96 records between 1990 and 2020, and 151 records in total from 1890. The British nature conservation status is Nationally Notable B (species found in between 31 and 100 hectads – 10 km x 10 km square), making it nationally scarce. There are only 4 records for 2020, and 1 of these is mine. Native to Britain, not surprisingly it is very localised with a few scattered records across England and Wales, except the south-east of England, and is absent from Scotland and Ireland. It feeds on plants from the Fabaceae family, including species of vetch and broom, and is found in fields and meadows where the host plants can be found.
This attractive beetle is from a family called Chrysomelidae the leaf beetles. It is a fairly recent newomer to Britain, introduced in the 1990s and now established in most of England and Wales, and still expanding its range. It is considered a pest of Rosemary, Lavender, Sage, Thyme and similar plants, both the adult and the larva feeding on the foliage. It is the first time I have seen it here, and will have to see if it is a ‘pest’ as such. It is 6.7-8 mm long. The adults can be seen throughout the year, even during winter.
Rhyzobius chrysomeloides – Yes, believe it or not, not al ladybirds are brightly coloured and have spots, some can be quite inconspicuous like this one. It is small, very small, at 2.5-3.5 mm (about 1/8 in) long. It is a fairly recent discovery, first found in Britain as recently as 1996, on a pine tree on a motorway embankment in Surrey. It has been steadily spreading northwards ever since.
Agapanthia villosoviridescens – This rather attractive beetle has a long vernacular and scientific name, but they both describe the beetle well. Walking along a favoured local field margin, I always pause every now and then and just focus on an area to see what may be around. I spied some Creeping Buttercup and bent for a closer look to see the golden cups teeming with small busy beetles feasting on the pollen and nectar. Then this big one was there, then it was not. It had disappeared under the leaves of a thistle. I gently pulled them back for a look-see and it flew out, directly onto my t-shirt. I gently coaxed it onto my finger and placed it on a leaf where it kindly remained still so I could get a few shots in. Double-click on images for a closer look-see yourself.
Melolontha melolontha – Another beetle visitor, a large one, found resting on my garage wall, attracted to the light. These can be quite docile when they are not whizzing around the tree canopies, and they love to grip your finger or thumb like a big superglue hug. You have to be gentle with them when handling them. Double-click images to enlarge.
Oedemera nobilis – I don’t know what it is about my shed door today, but the beetles are making it into a chillout zone. If I get another two visits I might start a band 🙂 Double-click image to … you know … get closer.
Clytus arietis – Well, here was go again. It looks like a wasp, but does not sting … for it is really a beetle! Usually seen in hedgerows and well wooded areas. The larva feeds on decaying wood. I found this one on my shed door. Double-click image to zoooooooom in closer.
Carabus problematicus – These photos are from my archives of 2006 and taken with my very first digital camera purchase, a Sony Cybershot DSC-W1, so some finesse is lacking. Yet seeing them after all this time, in fact forgetting I even had them, made me feel like a little kid again, filled with awe and excitement at this extraordinary ground beetle. These are fairly uncommon, but if you get one in your garden they are good at keeping pests down as well as looking rather stunning. They are fairly big, too, at around 30 mm (1 3/16″). Double-click on images to enlarge.
Xantholinus sp. – This is another case of ‘nature sometimes comes to you’. I found this tiny rove beetle … yes it is a beetle … in my bathroom sink just seconds from going down the plughole. I found a nice piece of moss for it outside, and as it was doing a run for it I managed this shot. Double click image if you wanna get closer …
7-spot Ladybird (Coccinella septempunctata) – I have seen quite a few of these around the garden, and no doubt the sunshine and elevated temperatures have enticed them out of hibernation. Good news for the garden. This one was in the hollow of a curved leaf. Double-click image to enlarge.
Malachius bipustulatus – I occasionally spot these on my local summer walks. They are only a small beetle at around 5-8mm (3/16-5/16in) long, but the bright red spots give them away. Kind of reminds me of that final scene in Jurassic Park. Double-click to enter the staring contest.
Copyright: Peter Hillman Camera used: Nikon D7200 Date taken: 7th July 2019 Place: Local field, Staffordshire
This is a new species for me in the garden. It is the Pine Ladybird (Exochomus quadripustulatus). It is quite small between 3 to 4mm long. It has a distinct rim around the base of the wingcases. Although it is mainly found where Pine grows, it also likes Hawthorn which I happen to have in the garden.
I initially found this gloriously decorated beetle called the Common Sexton Beetle (Nicrophorus vespilloides) on my kitchen windowcill. You may notice it has a couple of passengers hitching a ride on its pronotum. These are Poecilochirus mites which don’t actually harm the beetle, but grab a ride to the next burial site. These beetles have an important role of getting rid of carrion by burying beneath them for their larvae to feed. The cheeky hitchhiking mites hop off when the beetle has found a new carcass, and the mites then breed themselves, their timing so perfect that when the adult beetles are ready to fly the new generation of mites hitch a ride with them in search of another dead animal.
Feel free to click on the images to enlarge and click again to get even closer …
There were lots of these out in the fields. It is also called the ‘bloodsucker’ because of its distinct appearance. Note the dark tips on the wing cases. They feed on aphids and other insects, also pollen and nectar, and can be quite beneficial when they pay a visit to your garden. The adults live for the summer only, which they spend feeding and mating.
Of note, there are around 40 species of soldier beetle in the UK, and why are they called soldier beetles, you may wonder? Because many of them display red and black markings resembling a soldier’s uniform.
Feel free to click to enlarge and click again to get even closer.
I discovered this little brightly coloured ladybird on my garden hose pipe. It is about 3–4mm long. This is one of three species of yellow ladybird in the UK, and it has the brightest yellow of the three. It feeds on mildews as opposed to greenfly.
Feel free to click to enlarge and click again to get even closer.
I always enjoy coming across these flower beetles either in the garden or out on my walks. It is called the Swollen- thighed Beetle Oedemera nobilis, and you can definately see why. It is the male who has the large bulging thighs. It is those metallic shiny greens I really like.
Click and click again on the image to get that little bit closer …
I found a number of these by their egg cases not long having hatched on my crabapple tree at the bottom of the garden. They are ladybird larvae, first instar. They will go through four stages of moulting before pupating to become the brightly coloured adult beetle we all know.
That title is quite a mouthful, I know! Try saying it backwards, but watch you don’t bump into anything as you do 😉
Stopping along a field margin where grassland meets woodland, pausing and just looking, I saw this brightly coloured individual basking in the sunshine. It was quite spectacular when a pair of wings appeared from behind those distinctive black and yellow wing casings (or yellow and black, depending on which way you are walking), and it lifted off into the humid air, turned and hovered off towards the cooling shade of the woods.
Click once to expand view, click again to get that little bit closer
This little rove beetle called Oxyporus rufus was on my kitchen windowsill this afternoon. It is only very small, but rather colourful, and it can fly pretty well. If you zoom in on the third and final image you can see how well packed and neatly folded its wings are behind their casings, and how fine they are out in the open in the second image.
Click once to expand view, click again to get that little bit close
I had three of these large and lumbering dung beetles visit my garden the other night. They make quite the low droning sound when they fly, so you know something big is coming your way. They can grow up to 25mm (1 inch) long, and have a shiny metallic blue or green underside. They are quite easy to handle, but if they find themselves upside down on their back they have to fight a while to get back on their feet. A helping hand went a long way a few times. There are similar species out there, so care must be taken for accurate identification.
The adult is seen April to October, and they are often attracted to light on evenings. They are generally found on pastureland, and are common and widespread. Dung is their thing, especially horse or cow dung, and the female will pair up and will dig a hole beneath a suitable pat. Together they may excavate a hole up to 60cm (2 feet) deep, and will form small chambers off to the sides where the female will lay her eggs, one in each chamber. Both the adults and the C-shaped larvae eat their own weight in dung everyday. It sounds disgusting, but they are another of nature’s little helpers which help to keep the world clean and helps in recycling.