Continuing the succession of interesting beasts pulled out of the pool, I was very impressed on Saturday with this trio. The very boldly coloured rove beetle is Platydracus stercorarius. It is quite common and widespread, but I’m sure I’ve never come across it before. A couple of the smaller black rove beetles were in the pool; with their brownish mid-section (elytra), I believe they are Gyrohypnus angustatus - a common species in damp places and around gardens, The Oak Bush Cricket is a first for this year and always a welcome find.
This pretty, iridescent green beetle is also called the False Oil Beetle, but either way IMO it really deserves a nicer name. Female beetles like this individual, don’t even have “swollen thighs”; it’s just the male who has enlarged rear legs. This beetle visits a variety of flowers for pollen, but in this case was yet another rescue from the paddling pool. Formerly the species had quite a restricted range in Southern England, but since the 1990’s it has been spreading to the Midlands and northwards.
The boys fished this Common Cockchafer or Maybug (Melolontha melolontha) out of the paddling pool, where it had crashed overnight. It survived okay though by doing the backstroke, and when released scuttled away to bury itself in the leaves down under the Hazel trees. It’s getting to the end of the season for these big bugs, as they typically emerge in May then live for only six weeks.
The Maybug’s little brother is a Viburnum Beetle (Pyrrhalta viburni), which is a pest of Viburnum shrubs, but did not seem to be doing much damage where I found it on my runner beans. Even smaller, Derocrepis rufipes, is a tiny leaf beetle, which was on the Hollyhock flowers.
Finally, the Red Soldier Beetle (Rhagonycha fulva) that I had been hoping might turn up on the huge Ragwort I left to grow in the lawn arrived, but opted for the Goldenrod. These soldier beetles eat nectar & pollen on flowers, but also other visiting insects. This one was on its own, but otherwise they seem to spend most of their time mating (hence their nickname of “bonking beetles").
After seeing my first 10-spot ladybird last month, I found my first Cream-spot Ladybird Calvia quatuordecimguttata, #515). As mentioned in an earlier blog it seems a very good ladybird year, as there are a lot of ladybird larvae and pupae all over the garden. This Cream-spotted Ladybird was in the Hazel trees I planted a few years back and am trying to coppice. There’s no shortage of aphids in there, so plenty of food.
The stripy Rosemary Beetle (Chrysolina americana, #509) is (yet) another imported garden pest. Native to the Mdditerranean region (despite its Latin name), it didn’t arrive in UK until the 1990’s, but has now spread quite far from the London area where it initially colonised. I didn’t see any in the garden last summer, but this week there are a few of them munching the flowers on the lavender. I didn’t see them on the nearby lavender, which seems to be dying anyway - but probably not for beetle-related reasons. The beetles are very smart with their green & purple stripes, so I don’t begrudge them some lavender flowers - perhaps that will change though if they reach epidemic numbers.
The other colourful beetle is a Nettle Weevil (Phyllobius pomaceus), which I couldn’t resist posting even though it was not in the garden. They do lose their colour, becoming almost black, but this one was a particularly bright one on a bright sunny day by the River Severn near Ashleworth Ham Nature Reserve.
So far this spring I’ve seen several Seven Spotted Ladybirds (Coccinella septempunctata) and Fourteen Spotted Ladybirds (Propylea quattuordecimpunctata) - got to love those Latin names. The Asian Harlequin Ladybirds have not been present, so it’s been nice to see the native species. The small brown bug looks like Epuraea aestiva, joining the pollen beetles on the head of a dandelion.
A bit of a mixed bag around the garden today, with Chocolate Mining Bee (Andrena scotica, 459) adding to the medley of mining bees that are present at the moment. A few Amara ground. beetles were to be seen in the sunshine; this one appears like a Common Sun Beetle (Amara aenea). Next a couple of spiders. Zebra Spider (Salticus scenicus, #460) is usually a common enough species of jumping spider, but I didn’t find one last summer, so it was nice to catch this one in the sunshine by the front door. The not-so-long-legged harvestman is Phalangium opilio (#461); found while doing some gardening,