Thursday, April 18, 2013

SX9192 Colours from a grey square

I've seen a lot more of my home square than ever before, and it's not looking promising for the 1000 target, this despite Exeter being very lucky in some respects (the Exe runs through it, we've got peregrines nesting on the heights and otters down at the mill). The most disappointing area is actually the huge swathe of green desert that makes up the playing fields, the only good bit of which is some rough ground along the railway line.

Then of course the weather, grumble, grumble, but everyone's been suffering through a rather prolonged winter I s'pose!

On the upside, the inward focus, with half an eye on the other blogs has led to some interesting finds.

Anyway, here's the updates to my list to the end of March:-
116 Tortula muralis, Wall-screw Moss - Abundant on the local walls
117 Placynthium nigrum, A lichen
118 Bryum capillare Capillary, Thread-moss
119 Phalacrocorax Carbo, Cormorant - Hunting down on the river, and flying over
120 Leptogium gelatinosum, A lichen
121 Diploschistes muscorum, A lichen
122 erigone atra, A money spider - A female, epigyne lifted for Id.
123 pholcus phalangioides, Toilet Spider - This is the reason we don't have any tegeneria in the garage.
124 Ectopsocus petersi, A barkfly - Lifer, beaten from cupressa
125 Kleidocerys resedae, Birch Catkin Bug - Beaten from cupressa near birch
126 Lecanora campestris, A lichen 
127 Lecanora dispersa, A lichen  

128 Micarea denigrata., A Lichen - Lifer , very common on wooden fences, but easily overlooked.
Stunner, eh?

129 larinioides sclopetarius, Bridge Spider - Surprised to find an adult female surviving out in the open on the edge of the subway. Somehow she survived winter and a thousand passing pedestrians.

130 Frullania dilatata, Dilated Scalewort
131 oedothorax retusus, A money spider - Lifer, Epigyne cleared, tibial IV spine more than twice tibial width 132 Matricaria discoidea, Pineappleweed  - Plenty naturalised by the old bridge
133 halyzia sedecimguttata, Orange Ladybird - Several on a tree by the old bridge
134 Senecio squalidus, Oxford Ragwort - Common around town
135 Puccinia lagenophorae, Groundsel Rust
136 Pogonognathellus longicornis, A springtail - From leaf litter along stairs

137 segestria florentina, Black Snakeback spider - A suprising number of large florences were active from early on in the year. A common spider in the square. Every old wall has at least half a dozen secreted away by day, lurking with their green fangs shining under torchlight at night. Easy to tempt out with a blade of grass, and the tuning fork sends them mental, fortunately the savagary they inflict on it hasn't got as far as my fingers.. yet.

138 Emmelina monodactyla, A moth - Couple of these plumes in March
139 Arthonia radiata, A lichen
140 Orthosia cerasi, Common Quaker - On a whitewashed window sill
141 Lasius niger s.s., Common Black Ant - Seems to be the only ant in the square at the moment!  
142 Cumminsiella mirabilissima, Mahone Rust Lifer, prolific on mahonia
143 Xanthoriicola physciae, Lichenicolous Fungus - On xanthoria parietina
144 Illosporiopsis christiansenii, A lichen - On same bit of xanthoria parietina
145 exochomus quadripustulatus, Pine Ladybird - beaten from cupressa
146 harmonia axyridis, Harlequin Ladybird - Commonest ladybird in the square
147 Anthocoris nemorum, Common Flower Bug - Keyed out suprisingly easily
148 Corvus frugilegus, Rook - The morning chorus wouldn't be the same without these guys
149 Marchandiomyces aurantiacus, A lichenicolous fungi - On phsycia tenella
150 Puccinia Umbilici, Navelwort Rust - Down by the mill on the exe
151 Larus fuscus, Lesser Black-backed Gull - Usual spot on the overflow
152 Episyrphus balteatus, Marmalade Fly - Just the one so far
153 araneus diadematus, Garden Spider - An adult female that has somehow persisted
154 entomobrya albocincta, A springtail

155 Tegenaria saeva, A house spider - Tempted out from a drainage hole with a tuning fork, got more than I bargained for when a large female teggy came out biting. The house spiders are probably responsible for putting off more would be arachnologists than any other spider as the common species pair t.saeva/gigantea can be a 'mare to sort out, females especially so. The trick is to line up just right on the epigyne. This one is a classic t.saeva (as would be expected here in the SW) with two large dark holes still visible from this angle. T.duellica should show much reduced openings ~ provided the viewing angle is perpendicular!

156 zygiella x-notata, A spider - From railings, eating a beetle
157 aphodius prodromus, A beetle - Prized from the chelicerae of the above zygiella x-notata.
158 Aglais urticae, Small Tortoiseshell - On a rare sunny day.
159 Palomena prasina, Green Shieldbug - On probably the most horrible day, freezing cold, and this was out in the open.
160 Conyza canadensis, Canadian Fleabane - Common around the square
161 Sagina procumbens, Procumbent Pearlwort - Common on rocky bare areas
162 puccinia malvacearum, Mallow Rust
163 Malva sylvestris, Common Mallow
164 Ramalina farinacea, A lichen
165 Syntrichia laevipila, A moss
166 sarcoscypga austriaca, A scarlet elf cap - confirmed microscopically
167 Saxifraga tridactylites, Rue-leaved Saxifrage - Common
168 Polystichum setiferum, Soft Shield Fern - Several plants in shady areas along the leat and railway
169 Typha latifolia, Bulrush - Small patch along the river
170 Rhytidiadelphus squarrosus, A moss - Common in lawns
171 Candelaria concolor, A lichen
172 Fumaria muralis, Common Ramping Fumitory

173 Cornu Aspersum, A snail, a lifer, interesting enough, but..

174 ricardoella limacum, A mite - The interesting snail had an even more interesting hitchiker! Slug mite. I've found literature which suggests this is the snail mite r.limacum, and the sibling species r. oudemansi inhabits slugs, but the current accepted view is that the two species are one and the same, with r.limacum being the preferred species name (except for on the NBN which oddly gives r.oudemansi priority)

175 Limacus flavus, Yellow Slug  - I placed this one in a small plastic container whilst I went to fire up the slug key.. and it did a Steve McQueen on me. Moving suprisingly fast for a mollusc it managed to get out the container and most of the way across some nice furniture. The yellow line down its back earnt it the name l.flavus. The yellow line across the furniture earnt me a few names as well. None were in latin though.

176 Limax maximus, Leopard Slug - Young one  
177 Armadillidium depressum, Clamping Pill Woudlouse Very common in the area
178 oxychilus cellarius, A glass snail

Went out for half an hour not expecting much, and whilst Nicola was checking the leat I was looking up to locate a soft, half remembered, trilling call

179 Bombycilla garrulus, Waxwing (flock of 17)

180 Rumex obtusifolius, Broad-leaved Dock  
181 Syrphus torvus, A hoverfly - On a window sill, very finely hairy eyes, full microtrichia on 2nd basal
182 Caloplaca crenularia, A lichen - on stone wall
183 Phylloscopus collybita, Chiffchaff - In contrast to some reports from the East, chiffs were all over the square, from February onwards.

184 Phyllonorycter leucographella, Firethorn Leaf Miner - dissected a leaf mine and sure enough, there was the occupant

185 Caloplaca flavescens, A lichen 

186 Leuctra Hippopus, A stonefly or needlefly, - From wall alongside canal. Having pinned the hapless insect, I got half most of the way through the key on tarsal characters and wing venation, but the male terminal segment didn't look anything like the nice clear cut picture in the key for the species I ended up at... 

Until I finally followed the advice laid out clearly at the start and put the abdomen in cold KOH for 24 hours. Once it was cleared.. a perfect match.

187 Ranunculus bulbosus, Bulbous Buttercup - From rough ground near canal
188 oenanthe oenanthe, Northern Wheatear - Cracking male on a tiny penninsular in the river behind the mill on the exe.  
189 Taphrina alni, Alder cone fungus - On small alder from edge of canal  
190 anyphaena accentuata, Buzzing Spider - Beaten from grass growing from wall
191 Deroceras reticulatum, Netted Slug - Under bark on ground, 15mm contracted
192 Zyginella pulchra, A leafhopper - beaten from yew
193 Empoasca vitis, A leafhopper - beaten from yew
194 oonops pulcher, A goblin spider - from under bark on a large tree, very distinctive slow-slow-quick gait 195 amaurobius similis, A lace weaver - large female hidden inside a dead umbellifer stem, gave Nicola a shock..  
196 Elasmostethus interstinctus, Birch Shieldbug - from ivy
197 Torula herbarum, A fungus - on nettle stem, confirmed under the compound
198 Bombus terrestris, Buff-tailed bumble bee on ornamental winter heather on a small triangle between busy roads.
199 ero furcata, A pirate spider From same triangle of heather between busy roads. A small spider with very, very, slow menacing movements then a fast strike. As it did on the beating tray when a small tetragnatha sling got too close. Sadly, like most spiders, this interesting species has to be killed to identified, as the palpal differences are slight.. My picture does not do it justice. Arrr.

200 lepthyphantes minutus, A money spider The largest and most distinctive of this common but difficult tribe.

Some things are just beyond my literature/expertise/skill. Some of the local polypodys are giving me grief (sure the little **** hybridise). Then there was a Pollen Beetle, probably meligethes aeneus but how to be sure? And a little blue flea beetle as well, ack.

One of the many good things from this 1kSq project - spider records in the square are on the up. Last year I recorded 14 species in the square for the Spider Recording Scheme, taking the total to 15. This number paints my little square a pale blue on the SRS diversity map. Already I've recorded 16 species for 2013, by year end, I may not hit the 1000 over all, but the all important spider diversity square *will* be a new colour...

Cheers, and happy hunting,


  1. Some nice ones here Matt! I've also hit the probable Meligethes aeneus issue; sounds like something I might leave for a later year...

  2. Good work Matt! So can I take it that any mite on a mollusc is Ricardoella limacum? I've seen them on slugs but just assumed there'd be several similar species.
    I think your Yellow Slug is actually Irish Slug Limax maculatus.
    Your flea-beetle is a species of Psylliodes which you could ID with Hubble's new AIDGAP keys.

  3. Hi Mark, there's been some literature about mites on molluscs
    1946 - suggesting the three known species should be lumped as one
    TURK, FRANK A., and STELLA PHILLIPS. "A Monograph of the Slug Mite—Riccardoella limacum (Schrank.)." Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London. Vol. 115. No. 3‐4. Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 1946.

    1993 - suggesting r.limacum for snails and r.oudemansi for slugs
    Graham, F. J., J. B. Ford, and N. W. Runham. "Comparison of two species of mites of the same genus, Riccardoella associated with molluscs." Acarologia 34.2 (1993): 143-148.

    But I can't find the >2000 paper that lumped them back least not in google scholar which makes me wonder how authoratitive it actually was.

    Other mites do occur on molluscs, the few I found showed a very different form factor.

    As for the slug.. I thought the long yellow line down its arse meant it was l.flavus s.s ?

    ..and thanks for the suggestion with the psylliodes.


  4. Thanks for the mollusc mite refs Matt.

    I reckon Brian Eversham's slug key (below) is as authoritative as it gets. I reckon your slug has large blotches rather than fine mottling/speckling. And Irish can have a pale keel-stripe, though this is rare. But they do cause me some confusion so I'm not saying it's deffo Irish. I expect you'll have both in your square anyway.

    Mainly yellow, finely mottled with darker yellow or grey-brown on body, and fine pale speckles on mantle. Paler markings on body often join up into a pale stripe along keel. ... etc. Limacus flavus (Yellow Slug)
    Mainly pale green, green-grey or orange-green, with large blotches of dark olive-green on body. Mantle dark olive with large irregular pale green or yellow blotches. Rarely with a pale stripe along keel. ... etc. Limacus maculatus (Irish Yellow Slug)

    Cheers, Mark

    1. Your not on your own with confusion with L. flavus and L. maculatus. It may get easier for me if i do actually find L. flavus. All the Limacus i've checked have been L. maculatus. I've also found a few with this pale keel look down the back.

      I think I need to look further afield than just my little corner of Wales...

  5. Rats.. I was hoping it was a dark l.flavus as apparently on the Irish mollusc website, I posted it as such on I spot hoping to provoke a response but sounds like dissection would be required to be sure either way.

    Ill take it off the list.. and give an adjusted figure next post, will take the mite off as well .. have further gen from Dr Anne Baker on this.. sounds like they are not synonyms, there is a general host split but its not a simple slug/snail one and there is a key.. but it may require an electron microscope!

  6. Have photographed flavus and maculatus next to each other in my compost bin today. But since dropping the camera I'm having trouble downloading photos. Will post 'em when I get this fixed!