Monday, April 29, 2013

It's all going Latinised...

Had a brilliant time in the square today with several lifers in the form of a millipede, a cuckoo bee, a few springtails, a bug, a beetle and my first ever barkfly. None of them have 'common names' as such, which I see as meaning I'm finally getting into some of the more obscure orders - which is bloody great!!! 

I've just treated myself to a few new ID guides/keys including the Collembola and Hoverflies. I'm hoping to put both to good use! I started off by adding three very common springtails which I've seen umpteen times before but have never named. Required the full zoom of The Telferscope to clinch certain details (the 'spring' in Tomocerus is forked and the 'inner thigh area' of the spring has teeth which vary in shape between the species. We're talking about some seriously small features! Plus the claw tips are important too...) Whilst checking for springtails I noticed a tiny ball of green dust scurry into a crack...turns out to be the nymph of a barkfly - I've never seen one of those before!!! After lots of internet trawling I've pinned the ID on Loensia variegata, the nymph is one of just a handful that camouflage themselves with debris and their own frass. I even managed to see the hairy eyes! I'm growing it on, just to confirm the identity. Amazing thing to watch going about its microscopic duties on a small fragment of bark. Makes me happy!

The only hoverfly I caught was Helophilus pendulus (frons dusting and leg colouring duly noted!) but the Nomada bee on a dandelion was new for me, Nomada ruficornis. A bug in grasses was Stenodema laevigata with it's furrowed head, lack of femoral spines and coarsely pitted pronotum. Why are so many deadwood beetles black with red markings? Plenty of the atypical Staph Scaphidium quadrimaculatum noted including a pair together plus 4 ladybird-like beetles gathered around a slime mould. They turned out to be Anistoma humeralis, and slimes are their favoured haunt! Dunno what the slime was though, looked like an overripe Enteridium lycoperdon but much squishier?

A Common Shrew was the largest animal addition to the list!

Plants are bursting up all over the place. Best discovery was a healthy patch of 93 Common Twayblades at Blake's Pond, previously I've seen about 6 or 7 spikes on Epsom Common so I'm just a bit chuffed at finding this lot. Worryingly though, I haven't found any basal leaves of Common Spotted-orchid yet. I know some were illegally dug up a few years ago. Silverweed was an overdue addition, a huge shock was finding an enormous clump of Marsh Marigold in a ditch a mere 200metres from my house - I had NO IDEA it occured here!

I'm free again tomorrow, hopefully a few hoverflies (and that Red Kite that other people keep seeing...) will be found. And some wasps please, I have my ID chart ready and waiting, lol.

Today's additions are:

454 - Rowan - several seedlings now in leaf allowing me to recognise them!
455 - Water Plantain - new growth now emerging beneath last year's dead stalks, Blake's Pond
456 - Common Twayblade - amazing colony of 93 (so far...) spikes at Blake's Pond
457 - Cylindroilus caeruleocinctus (millipede) - whopping bronze version of Tachypodius niger (LIFER)
458 - Nomada ruficornis (a cuckoo-bee) - one on Dandelion (LIFER)
459 - Helophilus pendulus (a hoverfly) - swept from heather
460 - Caloptilia syringella (a micromoth) adult netted in woodland
461 - Common Shrew - heard squeaking in a bramble patch, trapping suggests Pygmy Shrew is absent here
462 - Anistoma humeralis (beetle) - 4 on a slime mould, underside of a fallen birch stump (LIFER)
463 - Tomocerus longicornis (springtail) - very commonplace. Keyed out (LIFER)
464 - Tomocerus minor (springtail) - a common species. Keyed out (LIFER)
465 - Orchesella villosa (springtail) - a common and very hairy wee beast (LIFER)
466 - Loensia variegata (a barkfly) - nymph covered in debris/frass. My 1st barkfly!!! (LIFER)
467 - Stenodema laevigata (a bug) - one swept from lang grasses (LIFER)
468 - Silverweed - fresh growth just coming through alongside pathways
469 - Marsh Marigold - very unexpectedly found a huge clump in overflow channel

I guess I'll have to put in a stupendous effort tomorrow in an attempt to hold Mike at bay. I think it'll be game over for me once 500 is achieved, too many moth trappers and botanists out there for me to keep up, lol!


  1. Good work Seth. What's the max magnification on your microscope, out of interest? I've tried several springtails and keep crashing out somewhere in frustration. 45x for me (on loan, then back to x30 which is going to be painful!)

  2. I can max out at 64x but I think 100x would make a world of difference. The FSC springtail key keeps mentioning 1000x (gulp!!!) My microscope has removable eyepieces, so you can change froom a 10x to a 16x or 20x or whatever. Dunno what's achievable with this particular model, but it's a Leica so I expect it'll be versatile (and costly!)

  3. Haha - yes, I saw that about 1000x in the springtail key and nearly wet myself! Then again, sounds like that's what you need for doing lots of the fungi properly too? Next year perhaps...

  4. Don't worry Seth, once I'm past the halfway mark, I can sense the law of diminishing ticks rapidly setting in. Absolutely no idea where the next 500 will come from. My recurring nightmare will be needing to find and ID a dozen springtails on New Year's Eve .....

  5. Don't worry Seth, once I'm past the halfway mark, I can sense the law of diminishing ticks rapidly setting in. Absolutely no idea where the next 500 will come from. My recurring nightmare will be needing to find and ID a dozen springtails on New Year's Eve .....

  6. On microscopes, getting a good bright image at 100x on a stereomicroscope requires investing some proper money in a good microscope and good lighting. But for higher magnifications, you're into compound microscope territory and it should be possible to pick up a basic 2nd hand compound that will do 1000x pretty cheaply (my current one was thrown in for free when I bought my stereo).

    This is same as mine, £50 on ebay: