Poor old Gilbert is getting restless. Despite the fact that there is more interest in wildlife than ever before, it seems that most of the so-called conservation organisations are losing interest in species. Instead they prefer to babble on about landscape scale conservation and ecosystem services (whatever they are). Could this be because most of their staff don't have any knowledge about species if they don't have four legs?
This is my attempt to encourage an interest in good old-fashioned natural history.

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Challenge update

Seth has a weeks head start on me but I have managed to record a couple of flies and a beetle since the start of the year. Firstly the fly Phytomyza ilicis, the mines of which can be found on virtually every holly bush in the UK - apart from northern Skye (hahaha). Another fly in the same genus, Phytomyza chaerophylli mines the leaves of umbellifers such as Cow Parsley and I found large numbers of mines at Warblington cemetary when I called in to see the various paper bags there (aka 5 Cattle Egrets and 10+ Little Egrets).

Phytomyza chaerophylli mines
Assorted paper bags
As I said in the previous post, I am utterly useless at beetles but I found one under a log whilst looking for springtails at Hindhead Common the other evening. Given its appearance and location I assumed it was a carabid and, being blue and orange I thought it would be relatively easy to identify. It very quickly fell out of the carabid key so I resorted to using a picture book to see if I could find something similar. Much to my surprise I quickly came across a suitable looking thing in the family Erotylidae - apparently called 'Pleasing Fungus Beetles'! Of the ones in the book, mine looked a good match for Triplax aenea and searches on the web haven't changed my mind but I would like to get confirmation before I count it as it would be a new species to me and identifying beetles by picture matching is seriously dodgy.

Triplax aenea - hopefully
So I reckon that puts me on about 2 and a half combined total for the year. Not sure what Seth is on but I think he's ahead of me, for the time being.


  1. Yes I'm definitely ahead and yes you are definitely being dodgy by picture-matching. Nice paper bags though, we don't get those up here in the depths of the frigid darklands.

  2. ALSO...I bloody well knew you'd resort to counting empty mines! Two and a half species in and you've done it twice already!!! Rotten cheat...

  3. Err mines are tenanted actually but empty ones are fine anyway. Don't start getting all bitter on the first day!!

  4. Looks like Triplax aenea to me, for what that's worth

  5. Not one I've ever seen, looks a nice beast too. Hats off Gilbert, nice start. Not that it will help you.... ;)

  6. All black antennae, and finely punctured elytra versus part-red antennae and densely/randomly punctured elytra of similar Tetratoma fungorum. Probably.

  7. Cheers Skev, the forward pointing bits on the front of the thorax point towards aenea as well. I've now found a key to the Erotylidae and am happy with the identification but input on the ID of beetles will be greatly appreciated this year. I sooooooo prefer flies

  8. Pronotum, not 'front of the thorax', it's a pronotum. Forward pointing bits indeed, FFS....