Not for the Squeamish!

Saturday, October 8th 2016

Looking for bugs at the beginning and end of the summer requires the skill of close observation of everything that looks a bit odd or different. Nine times out of ten you discover a bird dropping or a bit of leaf or a bit of mud. On the rare occasion when you find something then the fun starts. What is it? Sometimes you know and there is no problem but for those you don’t know, then the hunt begins.

Books that point you in the right direction are the first port of call. Then there is the Internet, which can be helpful, unhelpful or totally misleading. Something that looks exactly like ‘your creature’ is only found in the wilds of Central America!  So, it is back to the beginning. Of course talking amongst other insect watchers helps and then emails are sent to see if ID can be narrowed down. There are successes, disappointments and of course differences of opinion.

This insect was also photographed about this time last year but remained unidentified, until now and is Pantilius tunicatus.  Information says that it is common and widespread across southern Britain at least.  It is usually found on the lower branches of Hazel, Alder and Silver Birch.  So it is in north east Britain, was found on a bridge hand rail but at least, was near Hazel, Alder and Silver Birch. 

Insect

This is an insect, as when gently touched it did move, on legs!  Much discussion has gone into this insect but we are agreed, I think, that the camouflage is the remains of other insects, probably its prey.

An insect

Another insect that uses 'bits' from its prey items is a lacewing larva, which this may be?  The adults can often be found in the hides overwintering.  They are beautiful insects, but are voracious carnivores.  This one has either lost its coat or is just begining to collect it.

Possible lacewing larva

Once we had looked in various books the caterpillar of the Buff-tip was easily recognisable.  Unfortunately there is no chance of this one being identified!  It was tightly curled up amongst the Alder cones.

Caterpillar in Alder cones

After these fiercesome beasts we will end on something nice.  There are still some flowers around and the bees can often be found, almost hiding under the flower head and as it warms up slightly then they begin to feed.

Bee on Devil's Bit Scabious.


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