Saturday, 18 June 2016

Post 422 - 30 Days Wild Day 18 - An Extremely Entertaining Entomological Endeavour

Hey everyone, today's post is 422, Day 18 of the Wildlife Trust #30Dayswild and next week is National Insect Week! So watch out for a few bug related posts from me! I've been getting ready for this for a while now by going out looking for bugs. This is a great 30 days wild activity and it's really simple. Just find a place with lots of native plants that are in flower, preferably on a warm and sunny day in a place out of the wind. You should see a lots of bugs.

A Mayfly nymph in transition!
I did this but with a small twist. I was able to go on a couple of walks with a great local entomologist, Roger Key, along with his wife, Rosy Key. Last week we went to a place near Ripon where I knew there would be loads of bugs. flies and beetles, and sure enough, it delivered! We also went out today to one of my favourite places, part of my local patch, Silton Forest. Today conditions were nearly perfect and we saw so many bugs I will struggle to remember them all!
A Swallowtail caterpillar from Norfolk

Bright beetle with a great name - Crepidodera
But before we started the first walk, Roger showed me something he'd brought back from Spain where he'd recently been on holiday. He said that over there it was a common garden butterfly, but in Britain, you don't get many. He had a Swallowtail Caterpillar with him which he'd reared from an egg! It was feeding on Fennel and other things in the Carrot family, which you wouldn't expect in England, where they only seem to eat Cambridge Milk Parsley, but in Spain their diet is far more varied! Now I've seen Swallowtails in Norfolk, mostly the caterpillars and I knew that they are quite fussy eaters so I was surprised to learn about them being much less so in the rest of Europe. Our Swallowtails aren't doing themselves any favours being fussy eaters!  I'm hoping to see it if Roger and Rosy manage to rear it to an adult, I normally go to Norfolk just in between the time of first and second emergences of Swallowtails so I've only had a few short views of adults.

The Ripon walk

A lovely Sawfly
So after he'd shown us this, and, he got out of his car quite a lot of bugging stuff such as nets, pooters and pots! So then we started walking and he immediately found a place that he thought would be good for finding lots of buggy things so we hopped over the fence and started to catch some bugs.

Forest Bug from Ripon - probably 4th Instar
The way we started by doing it was by using our nets and swiping through the plants to catch anything that was sat on them, and also, Roger had a special piece of equipment that he used to catch the bugs that he knocked out of the tree with a stick. Using these two techniques seemed to be the most efficient way to do it in the type of area we were in, a wooded river. We found lots of different things like shield bugs, sawflies, an ant mimic, meadow bugs, many flies, craneflies, soldier beetles, and much more. I'll cover a bit more about some of these bugs in posts this week.

I found something I had never seen before, it looked like some sort of maggot, and in effect, that's what it was. It was a hoverfly larvae. So I put it in a pot and Roger said I should take it home and try to rear it. So I asked it what it ate and he said it was most likely to be a carnivore so to feed it aphids. And that's exactly what we did, and we have it in a pot in the kitchen right now! It's doing very well and chomping on aphids from bits of vegetation out of our garden. More on that as it develops.

Hoverfly on the Cow Parsley

One of the things that we found that was quite incredible was a Mayfly that was just breaking out of its nymph casing and you could see it blowing up its body to get out and you could see a difference from how far it was before and after we found it!

The Silton Forest Walk

Green Dock Beetle
Our whole family enjoyed this walk today, well   except for the midges! It was as if all the bugs had been waiting for this weekend to come out as the flower heads were covered in flies, hoverflies, ichuemon wasps, saw flies, weevils, well all sorts really.
Larch Ladybird

I've not seen Red and Black Froghoppers until recently at Three Hagges Woods but today in my local forest I saw loads. At least 20. They are such a lovely insect, very colourful and a lovely shape. Their nymphs make cuckoo spit too, just like that stuff you see on grass made by the Common Froghopper nymph, only this froghopper nymph does it underground on plant roots where it develops before emerging to the surface. If you don't know how froghoppers make cuckoo spit it's quite fascinating. They suck plant sap and froth it up by blowing bubbles into it from their bottoms! They then hide in it and feed on plant sap until they are ready to emerge into adulthood.

The biggest thing we saw today was down to Roger's eagle eyes, he found a Golden Ringed Dragonfly that was still drying out its wings having just emerged from its nymph. Dad managed to get the exuvia to add to my collection of Broad-bodied Chaser exuvia without disturbing the adult. It is a spectacular beastie.

Silvergreen Leaf Weevil (Phyllobius argentatus)
We saw lots of bright coloured insects today as you can see from the pictures. The Sawflies are very colourful as were the weevils we found. Most of these were bright green but some were a bit older and a bit duller as their colour comes from scales similar to moths and butterflies and it wears off.

Golden Ringed Dragonfly freshly emerged
There was a bright green Dock Beetle and a lovely orange beetle with the fantastic latin name of Crepidodera. There was also a nice blue nymph of an insect that I've forgotten too (I will have to ask Roger what it was again.). I also saw a Ladybird that I'd never seen before - a Larch Ladybird which is a bit different to the usual ladybirds!

There were lots of Hoverflies around too, and you can see some here in the photos. There were quite a few moths too especially the longhorn moths.

I saw a lot in Silton Forest while I was doing my Year of Nature but today was a pretty awesome day for spotting things and I found a lot more in a day than I usually would, possibly down to having some better bug hunting kit but mainly down to Roger and Rosy and knowing where to look.
Red & Black Froghopper

Two awesome bug hunts - thanks so much to Roger and the Royal Entomological Society. We managed to find some nice bugs for Roger to take down to the launch of Insect Week in London too. Thank you Roger and Rosy - we all had a great time bug hunting with you!

Hope you enjoyed,


1 comment:

  1. That golden ringed dragonfly shot is stunning Zach! Some amazing finds here. - Tasha