Well, what a storm that was. I hope everyone is still here and didn't get blown away with things. I prepared for the onslaught of the storm by propping my garden fence so that it wouldn't get blown over by the winds. It worked, I'm glad to say, however the front garden fence, which was a low fence and didn't need propping (I felt) got blown down instead. Typical. But on the whole, if all I lost was a couple of fence panels, then I was indeed lucky. If you also have lost some fence panels during the storm, can I please urge you and your neighbours to please think about replacing the broken panel with a hedgehog friendly panel. You only need to leave a small gap no less than 4" high at the bottom of the replacement panel. This will allow greater freedom of movement for our prickly friends who will do wonders in your garden getting rid of all those pests who like to munch on your prize Dahlia's. Remember, these little fellows have had a hard time since the 70's with their populations falling from 35 million to just 1 million. Isn't it better to show further generations WHAT a hedgehog is instead of EXPLAINING what a hedgehog looked like?
Still amazed to see that many trees still have their leaves even after all that wind which reached ~80mph in Suffolk. However, some trees were toppled or suffered damage that may see them being chopped down for safety's sake.
More Harlequin ladybirds (Harmonia axydris) have been landing on my front windows this week looking for a place to hibernate the winter. The Ma-in-law contacted me to say her friend in the Luton area had 100's on the ceiling in her bedroom and wanted to know what to do with them. In these instances, the best thing to do is just scoop them up with a dustpan and release them back outside and then block the route they used to get in your house. This will also help with your fuel bills as you'll also put a stop to the heat that's escaping your house, which is most probably the way they found the hole in the first place!
Still insects are on the move and even as I write this blog (Wednesday) a Peacock butterfly (Inachis io) is banging against my living room window. It's quite sunny out there at the moment and you would never have thought that just 2 days ago, the UK had had a significant storm. You may remember my last blog last week where I mentioned I kept finding crickets on my front door. Well guess what? Yes, another one has turned up today, but this one is a Rosel's Bush-cricket (Metrioptera roeseli).
|Rosel's Bush-cricket happily placed in back garden.|
So, I'm now wondering just how far the word has spread in the bush cricket world about my little haven where they can spend winter. We will soon see.
STOP THE PRESS!
EXCITING NEWS JUST IN!!!!!
At the weekend, I brought some wood in from the wood store at the back of the garden for the fire. I had only just lit the fire and placed a log on to it, then a small bug jumped off of the log and onto the hearth. I knew straight away that this little (about 7mm long) thing looked like a shield bug, but was a bit different. Unfortunately, I never had a vial to hand and he was quick off the blocks so hard to capture by hand alone. He eventually scurried into a crack around the fireplace. However, next day, I spotted him again near the mantle piece and as soon as I moved towards it, it spotted me and dove into a crack in the tile surround, drat! The day after that, we had a pesky cluster fly in the house. They fly slowly, keep flying in front of you and are just a general nuisance. My wife grabbed a towel to try and whip it and after several attempts, I thought I saw it land on the window. I pointed it out to the wife and she said, that don't look like a fly. Straight away I knew what it was, I pulled the vial I had been keeping for this moment from my pocket and potted the little fellow.
I noted straight away that it was a Hemiptera, which is ancient Greek for 'half-wing' as many have forewings that are hardened at the base and soft at the tips. Hemiptera are known as 'True bugs' and include the genre Shield bugs, which I thought it was at first. However, I noticed this one didn't have the pronounced 'shoulders' that is usually found with shield bugs and looking at my shield bug guide, I couldn't find the species I had in my hand.
So, with the help of some tissue to keep the insect still enough to get a photo (a trick taught to me by the very knowledgeable Martin Harvey) I got a couple of quick pics with my iPhone and then set it free. After all, that's what it had been trying to do the last few days.
|The, as yet (read on), unidentified bug.|
We then had my niece and nephew round for a couple of days and things were busy and didn't think much more about it. That was until the kids went back home (relief) and I got time to post the pictures to iSpot and the Amateur Entomologist's Society Facebook page. Martin Harvey (again) who is heavily involved with both sites immediately came forth with a comment saying that this looked quite interesting and it could be a species known as Rhyparochromus vulgaris, a recent visitor to the UK and only recorded in London. Martin pointed me in the direction of the British Bugs website and the link to the species he thought it was. I no longer had the specimen, but I did have the photos and looking at the link, I knew straight away that that was the species. Yet, I still sent the photos to Dr Tristan Bantock who is the organiser of the Shieldbug and allies recording scheme and he responded immediately to say that he was happy to confirm from the photos that the insect was indeed Rhyparochromus vulgaris and was a first for Suffolk!
Without further a due, I informed my local Biological Records Centre of the sighting who were very happy to accept the record.
I would also like to say a big thank you to Martin Harvey at this point for his help in identifying this insect and pointing me in the right direction, very much appreciated.
So it just goes to show that the wildlife is there just waiting for us to record it. Who knows what else is out there? After all, it was just pure chance I stumbled across this little insect, but I'm glad I did.
This Saturday, weather permitting, volunteer work party at Purdis Heath 10am-3pm or come and go as you please. Bring work gloves, packed lunch, sturdy footwear and suitable outdoor clothing and a smile. Meet like-minded people and do something positive for the environment. We meet in the lay-by in Bucklesham Rd opposite the Trinity Showground at 10am. You can read more about the whys and wherefores on my previous blog here. I look forward to seeing you there.
Please, if you're not sure about the weather, please contact the volunteer organiser Julian on 07910 170609
A short one this week as I've got lots to do. But keep your eye out for those elusive spots!