22 May 2011

Beetles and Bugs

Cardinal Beetle - Pyrochroa serraticornis

One of my favourites. Brilliant distinctive colouring and I also like the large serrated antenna. There is another form with a black head rather than scarlet but I've not come across one yet.  Typically seen in the adult form between May and July

Green Tortoise Beetle - Cassida viridis

One for Monica, she likes these. A male and female presumably!  Easiest to spot at this time of year when they are mating as usually they are well camouflaged when pulled down tightly against leaves.

Black and Red Froghopper - Cercopis vulnerata

These are EVERYWHERE at Trench Wood at the moment. Must have seen 30 before I had left the car park. 

Froghopper nymph - aphrophora salicina

Froghoppers are also referred to as Spittle Bugs because it is they that are responsible for Cuckoo Spit on plants.  The nymphs produce the froth which completely hides them from predators and also tastes bad so  puts off predators. As you see a lot of Cuckoo spit but not the nymphs I guess the strategy works. However I suppose if you wanted to go poking around in it you would find the nymphs.

Froghopper nymph - aphrophora salicina

 To save you having to go poking about in the horrible froth to satisfy your curiosity, this is one I prepared earlier showing the back end of the nymph poking out. 

Incidentally if you are wondering WHY it is called Cuckoo Spit it is because in the past it was thought to have been produced by Cuckoos who arrived on migration at the same time the froth started to appear. Just coincidence.

There are many species of Froghopper nymph that produce the froth (though not the Black and Red Froghopper above) and if you are wondering what the Adults typically look like see my previous post here for an example.

Horned Treehopper - Centrotus cornutus

I found another of these, at Trench Wood this time. This angle shows off its horns well

17 May 2011


As Sawflies are abundant at the moment I thought I would do a quick post about them

There are apparently 500 species in UK and many of them are like the examples below i.e distinctive,  and colourful with elongate bodies. They aren't always easy to identify despite their colourful bodies but they are quite photogenic.

Sawfly sp

This is how I like to photograph Sawflies with outstretched wings revealing their bodies and also the wing veination which can often help with identifying the species (in theory!)

Sawfly sp

However they don't often want to cooperate and as soon as they land they usually fold their wings back along their bodies hiding their true colours or just hinting at it through the semi transparent wings. For instance this ones body is black at the front and red at the rear but you can't really see it that well. At least this one has another interesting feature being the white tips of the antennae.

Sawfly sp

They really do come in a wide range of colours.....Green.....

Sawfly sp

....Black and Yellow. Even the legs are often colourful.

So anyway, I'll continue to look for the "posers" to get photos of, but it's not easy.

Sawfly Larvae

This "punk caterpillar" is a sawfly larvae but I've not been able to find out what the adult is like .I would like to think it is as impressive as the larvae!

16 May 2011


Some of the big guns in the Fly world. They're big and they're ugly !
[Click on the picture to see large]

Snipe Fly -  Rhagio scolopacea

Often called the Down Looking Fly because it is unusual in that it often rests on tree trunks etc facing downwards. Having said that, like here, it is just as likely to be facing up!

Empididae sp
Looks like something out of Alien to me

Tachina fera

These are quite common in the garden and elsewhere and at a distance they just look like big bluebottle type flies but brownish. Close up you can see it is covered with spiky hairs making it look more intimidating than it really is.


They look Like Bumble Bees !

But they aren't.

Not only are these 2 not Bumble Bees, they are both the same species (but different variants)

This Hoverfly is a Bumble Bee mimic and comes in the 2 distinct varieties which closely resemble 2 different species of Bumble Bee. They live by scavenging in and around the nests of Bees and wasps and presumably this is why they have evolved this disguise. 

However whilst they superficially resemble a Bumble Bee it is very easy to tell the difference by their flight characteristics as well as their facial looks and the fact that Bees have 2 pairs of wings and Hoverflies one pair!. So if I can tell the difference how come an actual Bumble Bee (or wasp) cannot. Makes you wonder.

Hoverfly - Volucella bombylans var. plumata

Hoverfly - Volucella bombylans var.bombylans

7 May 2011

Speckled Bush Cricket

[Click on photos for larger version]

Speckled Bush Cricket Nymphs

Finally had rain today after weeks of very little so haven't ventured out but I took a quick look in the garden between showers and on a Buttercup plant I saw what looked like a greenfly. However closer examination revealed something quite different and unexpected. What I thought was "greenfly" turned out to be Bush Cricket Nymphs. I think they are the Nymph of the Speckled Bush Cricket.

Speckled Bush Cricket - Leptophyes punctatissima

Speckled Bush Cricket - Leptophyes punctatissima

Speckled Bush Cricket - Leptophyes punctatissima

Speckled Bush Cricket - Leptophyes punctatissima

The Nymphs go through a number of moults (shedding their skin).  Each time becoming a larger more developed version until they are the finished  adult . The juvenile versions are called "Instars" and a cricket can have up to 13 instars but the Speckled Bush Cricket has a more modest 6 instars. I am not sure which number this is but it must be fairly early because they are so small.

Speckled Bush Cricket - Leptophyes punctatissima

They may be tiny and not fully developed but they can still jump a good distance and when they jump they are pretty hard to find again as they blend in well with the vegetation.

Speckled Bush Cricket - Leptophyes punctatissima

3 May 2011

Tiddesley Wood

Spent an enjoyable few hours at the Tiddesley Wood Open Day. A lovely sunny day but even windier than the past few days. Managed to take a few pictures whilst there.

Rhopalus subrufus

Looks like he has climbed up the grass to have a look around. Maybe he was lost.

Horned Treehopper - Centrotus Cornotus

Wow, this is one weird,exotic looking bug. Well done Monica for spotting it. Not seen one before so very pleased. The family it belongs to is mainly tropical and there are only 4 species in Europe (2500 species worldwide). The tropical species are often very spiky hence their other common name of Thorn Bugs.

Dance Fly - Empididae sp

Squash Bug - Coreus marginatus

AKA  Dock Leaf Bug as it is often found on Dock leafs or similar. Squash Bug comes from the fact that is a pest of Squashes (melon, courgette etc) in America.

Green Shieldbug - Palomena prasina

Doing a good job of blending in with the greenery. This bug overwinters as an adult and in winter it turns a reddish Brown colour, changing back to green in the Spring. Makes a lot of sense as it would be far too visible in this bright Green colour in the winter.

2 May 2011

Trench Wood

Another Bank Holiday weekend with fantastic sunny weather. The only drawback was the wind which was quite strong and whilst it wasn't a cold wind it wasn't the best conditions for photographing insects. There was absolutely no shortage of different insects so this is just a small sample of what was about.

Scorpion Fly (Male)
These have started appearing again over the past couple of weeks

Leafhopper - Oncopsis subangulata?

These are tiny creatures so I rarely spot them but I had my friend Monica with me and nothing gets past her!

Speckled Wood - Parage aegeria
Showing its underwing markings

Mirid Bug - Rhabdomiris striatellus

There are quite a few species of these Plant Bugs but again they are quite small and often go unnoticed. (Thanks again Monica!).  This is a particularly well marked one.

Sloe Bugs + Dandelion Head

How many Sloe bugs does it take to destoy a Dandelion Head?...The answer seems to be 5 !

Having spotted this "phenomenon" of Sloe Bugs in Dandelion seed heads last week I have noticed it loads of times since. In fact I have to check all the Dandelions now! Not sure if it is feeding or mating or both. There definitely seems to be mating going on in any case....

Birch Shield Bug - Elasmostethus interstinctus

......and talking of Shieldbugs mating...

Garden Insects


Just a few from the garden over the past few days.

Bee - Feeding on Forget me Nots

The Forget me Nots continue to be popular with the local insects. Not sure what species of Bee this is as it is an unusual viewpoint, but that is what I liked about the shot.

Brimstone Moth - Opisthograptis luteolata

A night flying moth so not seen as much as its butterfly namesake but just as attractive. This was one of the few moths  caught in a moth trap on a very windy night. It did a photo session and was then released.