Bugged

Delphacidae sp nymph

Delphacidae sp nymph

Delphacidae sp nymph

Delphacidae sp nymph

A) Delphacidae sp. nymph with Dryinid wasp parasite. Local pond margin.


B) Unknown. Local pond margin.


Cicadellidae

C) UnidentifiedLocal pond margin.


Idiocerus sp

D) Idiocerus sp. Rear garden on crab apple.


Whitefly Aleyrodidae

Whitefly Aleyrodidae

E) Aleyrodidae. Rear garden on Buddliea near Strawberry plants.


F) Psyllidae. Rear garden, off cotoneaster.


G) Miridae. On crab apple, caught probing a small fly.


I have reposted these images with some newly added photographs of species in the hope of getting a positive identification. I realise it is not always possible to make an id from an image, but if there is a possibility one has to give it a go. Thanks in advance to Craig Slawson and other recorders from the Staffordshire Ecological Record who have already been of great assistance with their aid in confirming and identifying species in this challenging yet fascinating group of insects.

Please click on images to enlarge, and click again to get even closer.

All taken July 2017, Staffordshire, England.

Their World

Macrosteles sp. of the Cicadellidae family. These are really tiny creatures, and this is their world. At this scale, it is really quite alien to ours.

Cicadellidae

These were taken on the muddy edge of my local pond, Staffordshire, England. July 2017.

Idiocerus sp

Idiocerus sp

This is one of the slightly larger leafhoppers which I found deftly avoiding an interested spider on my crab apple tree.

Rear garden, Staffordshire, England, July 2017.

Whitefly

Whitefly Aleyrodidae

Trying out my Raynox DCR-250 conversion lens again this evening, I managed to get close to this little ghost-like fly which had landed on one of my strawberry plants. At 1.5mm (0.06in) long, one female can lay up to nearly 200 eggs. Note the faint dark patches at the base of the otherwise all white forewings.

Whitefly Aleyrodidae

They are a bug belonging to the order of insects called Hemiptera, and the whitefly family Aleyrodidae. They are sap-sucking insects, and there are quite a few different species which look very much the same as this one so they are hard to pin down an exact species. They can be considered a pest species in some areas. Whitefly secrete sticky honeydew deposits as they feed which fall on to the surrounding foliage. This causes dark sooty mould to develop on the leaves. Also yellowing of the leaves occur due to them feeding on the plant cells.


Rear garden, Staffordshire, England. July 2017


Please click on an image for a larger more detailed view. Clicking a second time may get you a little closer.

Neolygus contaminatus

Neolygus contaminatus

There are quite a few of these green capsid bugs around, and they can be quite confusing to identify with accuracy. This one is usually found on birch, and is common and widespread throughout Britain. The adults are seen June to September, and can grow up to 6mm (0.2in) long.

Rear garden, Staffordshire, England. July 2017.

‘Bugs’ Bunny

Heterotoma planicornis

No, not a rabbit or a strange Frankenstein hybrid between bunny and bug, but just a bug, a true bug from the order of insects called Hemiptera.

Heterotoma planicornis

I know one thing this small bug likes to do, and that is to wave his extraordinarily long antennae around. Here, there and everywhere.

Heterotoma planicornis

Heterotoma planicornis

Heterotoma planicornis

Heterotoma planicornis


Please click on an image for a larger more detailed view. Clicking a second time may get you a little closer.


Rear garden, Staffordshire, England. July 2017.

In Space No One Can Here You Scream

Delphacidae sp nymph

Sorry, let’s rewrite that. “Near the local pond no one can hear you scream”.

I have never seen anything quite like this before. The locals must have thought I had completely lost the plot as I was kneeling in mud on the edge of a local pool snapping away, totally oblivious of anybody if they were watching me.

Delphacidae sp nymph

Anyway, this is a planthopper bug, a nymph most likely from the Delphacidae family of planthoppers. They are like the size of a grass seed. But the horror and subsequent screaming comes from the bulbous package it is forced to carry on its tail end.

Delphacidae sp nymph

It is a parasite, a Dryinid wasp larva which is part outside and inside of the planthopper. It feeds on the host, eventually breaking out for pupation and killing it in the process.

Delphacidae sp nymph

With special thanks to Stewart Bevan for helping to narow the species down and for confirming the ‘alien’ in our midst.


Local pond, Staffordshire, England. July 2017.


Please click on an image for a larger more detailed view. Clicking a second time may get you a little closer.

Calocoris stysi

Calocoris stysi

Formerly called Grypocoris stysi, this is quite a distinctive and attractive plant bug which I came upon as I walked along a local woodland margin.

Calocoris stysi

Calocoris stysi


July 2017.

Heterotoma planicornis

The weird and wonderful image above is the nymph stage of a plant bug called Heterotoma planicornis. This little fella will grow up big and strong and will look like the big fella in the image below which I took last year.

Heterotoma planicornis

They grow up to 5mm (0.2in) long, and the adults and nymphs feed on other insects and plant tissue.


Rear garden, Staffordshire, England. July 2016 and June 2017.

 

The World’s Greatest Leaper

Common Froghopper Philaenus spumarius

It’s amazing to think they we may have Olympic athletes living in our backyards. This seemingly unremarkable insect is called the Common Froghopper (Philaenus spumarius), because of its frog-like resemblance and its ability to hop, and quite a fair distance. This insect, which belongs to the order of True Bugs known as Hemiptera, is only about 5 to 7mm (0.2in to 0.3in) long. It has been crowned the world’s greatest leaper, and with a specialised catapult system it can launch itself up to 70cm (28in) away, which beats fleas and grasshoppers.

According to research done at the University of Cambridge, the Froghopper accelerates from the ground with a force that is 400 times greater than gravity. In comparison, you and I jump with a force that is two to three times that of gravity. This is a huge leap for bugkind, and the bug experiences up to 400g’s. We would pass out when we experience about 5 g’s.

If you ever get to see one of these extraordinary insects, all you have to do is approach it, and perhaps wave a finger near to it, and watch carefully, because it is gone in a flash. It has to store energy in its leg muscles to be able to catapult itself into the air. This takes about 1 second. The jump takes 1 millisecond.

So next time you see that nasty looking cuckoo-spit stuck to your plants, just think, that is the breeding ground for a very special kind of Olympic athlete.


Please click on an image for a larger more detailed view. Clicking a second time may get you a little closer.


Rear garden, Staffordshire, England. June 2017.

Being Bugged

Green Shieldbug Palomena prasina

In the garden this morning I could not help but notice how many of these bugs called the Green Shieldbug (Palomena prasina), where sunning themselves on my bush. The more I looked the more I saw, and to my astonishment they were in various stages of colouring. There were about ten in all quite happily basking, the one above still in his or her autumn and winter coat, the one below in their spring and summer coat.

Green Shieldbug Palomena prasina

And last but not least, this one in the change, somewhere between the two as it is gradually turning green. They should all be green within a week or so once out of hibernation.

Green Shieldbug Palomena prasina

Green Shieldbug

Palomena prasina

Green Shield Bug (Palomena prasina)
Summer adult
Green Shield Bug Palomena prasina winter adult
Winter adult

The Green Shieldbug is exactly as its name describes, although it does darken to a deep bronze in the autumn before going into hibernation. It is quite a large shield-shaped bug, which is also called a ‘Stink Bug’ for it secretes a foul-smelling odour when felt threatened. Similar to the Gorse Shieldbug (Piezodorus lituratus) which is much slender with reddish wings. It can grow up to 14mm in length.

It mainly feeds on deciduous trees and shrubs, and tall herbs, but will consume a wide variety of plant material. It can cause damage to field crops, especially when found in large numbers, particularly vegetable crops, beans suffering the most problems, but not generally considered a pest.

The eggs are laid in small clusters on the underside of leaves. It overwinters as an adult.

Seen all year round, and it occurs in a wide variety of habitats, including woods, arable land, and gardens. Native to Britain, a common and widespread species.


June 2016 (top image) and March 2017 (bottom image), rear garden, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2016 and 2017.

Horned Leafhopper

Ledra aurita

Horned Leafhopper (Ledra aurita)

One of the largest British Hemiptera, it is a flat bug with distinctive ear-like lobes extending from the pronotum. Its greenish-brownish colourations means it is well camouflaged against lichen covered oak tree bark. The wings have a net-like pattern of veins. Rarely observed because of its excellent camouflage. Length 13 to 18mm.

Horned Leafhopper (Ledra aurita)

They feed on the lichen of oak trees.

Seen May to September, and found in woodland where oak trees are grown. Local across southern Britain.


August 2011, rear garden, Staffordshire. Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38. © Pete Hillman 2011.

Pied Shieldbug

Tritomegas bicolor

Pied Shieldbug (Tritomegas bicolor)

This is a distinctive black and white shieldbug. Length 7mm.

It feeds on the seeds of White Dead-nettle and Black Horehound.

The adults can be seen all year round, but especially in the spring when they emerge in fair numbers from hibernation. Found on nettles and similar plants, in hedgerows and woodland margins. Common and widespread in southern England and much rarer further north, and absent from Scotland and Ireland.


May 2012, local canal, Staffordshire. Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38. © Pete Hillman 2012.

Black And Red Froghopper

Cercopis vulnerata

Black & Red Froghopper (Cercopis vulnerata)

One of Britain’s largest and brightest froghoppers. It has distinctive black and red markings which a few similar species share. Its bright markings signify that it is very distasteful to birds and other would be predators. Length 9 to 11mm.

Black & Red Froghopper (Cercopis vulnerata)

It spends much of its early life feeding on underground roots still contained within its protective froth commonly called ‘Cuckoo Spit’ which is solidified. Strictly vegetarian feeding on many plant species, including grasses, nettles, and docks.

Black & Red Froghopper (Cercopis vulnerata)

Seen April to August, mainly wooded areas, but also in meadows and hedgerows. Usually observed resting on vegetation and if disturbed it will jump a good way. Common and widespread in the south of Britain.


Photographs taken April 2007 and June 2011 near local river,  Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2007 and 2011. Camera Camera Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W1 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38.

 

Grypocoris stysi

Grypocoris stysi

A bright and colourful bug with distinctive yellow-orange and pale cream-white chequered markings. Length 6 to 8mm.

The adults and larvae feed on the flower heads of nettles, white bryony, and some umbellifers. They also feed on aphids and other small invertebrates.

Seen June to August, and found in hedgerows, on woodland margins and in meadows. Common and widespread.


Photograph taken June 2011, local woodland margin,  Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2011. Camera Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38.

Dock Leaf Bug

Coreus marginatus

Dock Bug (Coreus marginatus)

Sometimes called the ‘Brown Squash Bug’, ‘Squash Bug’ or Dock Bug’, this is a large brownish shield bug with rounded shoulders and orange to peach coloured striped hard wing base. It also has two tiny horns between its dark-tipped antennae. Length 12 to 15mm.

Dock Bug (Coreus marginatus)

When threatened this bug releases an obnoxious chemical in defence which can turn the skin brown if contact is made. It can be very hard to wash off and remain this way for many days. With this reference in mind, it is sometimes known as a ‘Stink Bug’. It hibernates in all life stages. It feeds mainly on the fruits and seeds of dock (rumex), and their relatives (Polygonaceae). It can also be a pest to rose buds and soft fruits, especially squash (Cucurbita).

Dock Bug (Coreus marginatus)

Mostly observed in spring and autumn where they congregate before they hibernate. It is found in many habitats, including woodland verges, hedgerows, the edge of cultivated fields, meadows, wasteland and gardens. A widespread and common species found all over Europe and parts of North America. Common and widespread in southern Britain.

Photographs of Dock Bug (Coreus marginatus) taken May 2014, local field margin, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2014. Camera used Nikon D3200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens.

Common Pond Skater

Gerris lacustris

Common Pond Skater (Gerris lacustris)

Also called ‘Water Striders’, these freshwater bugs have long thin brownish bodies with long legs. There are wingless Pond Skaters and winged, and the winged ones fly quite well. They move across the water by skating quite quickly, hence their vernacular name. This is amongst several similar species of the genus Gerris, but as identification markers the front femur is pale with two narrow black bands that extend from tip but end before base, and the sides of the sixth abdominal segment do not extend as spine. Length 8 to 10mm.

Common Pond Skater (Gerris lacustris)

Pond Skaters are insectivores, and use their agile ability to move upon the surface of the water to hunt and capture their prey. They are covered in very fine hairs which are water-repellent and allow them to stay buoyant upon the thin-film of the water’s surface. Combined with the water’s surface tension, they are able to sense the movement of other insects. They use their middle and rear legs to propel themselves over the water smoothly and easily, the rear legs acting as a kind of rudder.  They also have the ability to hop across the water. They use their two smaller front legs to seize prey, and then they puncture the insect’s body with their rostrum or beak, and suck the liquid soft innards to feed.

Adults maybe seen all year round, but in the coldest months they shelter in leaf litter and other debris. Found in various freshwater habitats, including streams, ponds, rivers, ditches and lakes. Common and widespread.

Photographs of Common Pond Skater (Gerris lacustris) taken October 2011, local pond, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2011. Camera used Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38.

Hawthorn Shieldbug #2

Hawthorn Shieldbug (Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale)

Hawthorn Shieldbug (Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale)

Photographs of Hawthorn Shieldbug (Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale), taken September 2016, rear garden , Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2016. Camera used Nikon D7200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens

Lesser Water Boatman

Corixa punctata

Lesser Water Boatman (Corixa punctata)Back in June I found one of my first invertebrates in my garden pond which I had built in April. It was the nymph of the above adult Lesser Water Boatman. I am pleased to have noticed how it has grown into adulthood, and that there are at least two of them swimming around in my pond. The only way to reasonably photograph them is to catch them and place them in a white crock dish, which I finally did today, and that is quite a task in itself. I much prefer to photograph specimens in their natural environment, but some things are virtually impossible to do so. I always release them back safely.

Lesser Water Boatman (Corixa punctata)

Please see my previous post to learn more about the Water Boatman (Corixa punctata.

Photographs of Lesser Water Boatman (Corixa punctata), taken August 2016, rear garden, Staffordshire. © Pete Hillman 2016. Camera used Nikon D7200, with Sigma 105mm macro lens.

The Weird And The Wonderful

It’s amazing what you see when you just stop and look, and look some more. This is a tiny plant bug which has no common name, but is called Heterotoma planicornis. They grow to just over 5mm long, and it was a wonder I saw it on a leaf of my crab apple tree. It moved so fast from leaf to leaf it was hard to keep track of, let alone photograph it. The wide and flattened 2nd antennal segment, darkish ground colour and green legs help in identifying the species.

The adults and nymphs feed on small insects as well as plant tissue.

The adults are seen July to October on a variety of plants and trees, especially nettles. It is abundant throughout most of Britain.

Hairy Shieldbug

Dolycoris baccarum

Also called the ‘Sloe Bug’, it is a medium-sized bug with narrow shoulders which do not project beyond the width of the abdomen. It is very hairy, and it is normally brownish to reddish in colouration. The scutellum is greenish with a yellow tip. It is a about 12mm long.

They feed on a wide range of plant material, including fruits and seeds.

Found in woodland, hedgerows, parks and gardens. It is common and widespread throughout Britain except the far north.

Photographs taken May 2014, local woodland margin, Staffordshire.

 

March of The Aphids

We may call them greenfly, blackfly, whitefly or plant lice, but whatever type you have you don’t like them sucking on your plants. Aphids belong to the order of insects called Hemiptera, or the True Bugs, and they are one of the most destructive insect families. They can do immense damage to garden plants and food crops, and they reproduce at an amazingly speedy rate.

Many aphids are monophagous, which means they feed solely on one particular species of plant, whilst others aren’t all that fussy about species and they will feed on almost any plant.They feed by puncturing the plant tissue and then sucking up the sap. This can also spread viruses which can kill the plants.

But help is at hand with gardener friendly insects like ladybirds, lacewings, wasps and hoverflies, which, in their larvae state (larvae and adult with ladybirds) feed on the aphids. Crab spiders also feed on aphids.

So don’t reach for the spray gun just yet. Let nature take its course.

Photographs taken June 2016, rear garden, Staffordshire.

The Ant And The Aphids

No, not the name of a new band, but the relationship between these two insect species is pretty interesting. Ants love aphid excrement, it is apparently rich in sugar which the ants love. In return for this sweet treat, the ants act as bodyguards, protecting the aphids from predators. The aphids must love the young, fresh shoots of my crab apple tree for they all congregate at the tips, and the ants are there with them dining out and protecting them.

Photograph taken June 2016, rear garden, Staffordshire.

Green On Green

I discovered this green bug when it flew through my patio door. It is called the Green Shield Bug  (Palomena prasina). It is commonly seen resting on vegetation, but handle with care, for as a defence  mechanism it secretes a foul-smelling odour which has earned it another name ‘Stink Bug’.

Photograph taken June 2016, rear garden, Staffordshire.

Lesser Water Boatman nymph

Corixa punctata

I built my garden pond this April in the hope I could attract more wildlife to my garden. It has amazed me how in a relatively short space of time life has took hold there and has flourished. Below is a bug, not a beetle, but a bug which is also known as the ‘Common Water Boatman’. I have seen it a few times diving beneath the water of my small garden pond, and finally, today, I have managed to get a few photographs of it. I discovered it is not an adult, but a nymph, and was surprised by its green glasslike appearance. I hope it will stick around so I can see it grow up.

This boatman swims the right way up, instead of upside down on its back like similar species do. The middle and hindlegs are about the same length. The upper body surface is flattened without a central keel, and the underside is pale. Body length 12 to 14mm.

It feeds mainly on plant debris from the bottom of ponds, but also algae and diatoms. They use their hair-fringed front legs to filter through the water. It can fly, and whilst under water it carries bubbles of water under its wings.

It is active all year round, and found in still and slow-moving water like ponds and lakes. Common and widespread.

Photographs taken June 2016, rear garden pond, Staffordshire.