Birds, Leps, Observations & Generalities - the images and ramblings of Mark Skevington. Sometimes.

Sunday, 4 June 2023

Clean Sweep in Heather

I spent a couple of hours vigorously sweeping the (relatively) abundant heathers and bilberry at Warren Hills yesterday in nice sunshine with with the continual strong breeze that we've had for a week or so. My targets were actually a couple of Coleophora spp.: I hoped to find the distinctive cases of Coleophora pyrrhulipennella amongst the sweepings, and perhaps something that looked in contention for the cases of Coleophora juncicolella. No joy with either, which initially made it seem a bit of a fruitless effort, but there were a few beetles and a couple of small vaguely familiar tortrix moths. Turns out that this initial dismay quickly turned into a major win once I checked out the IDs. I was also left wishing I'd brought some clumps of heather and bilberry home for photographic props.

Firstly the tortrix: not the most spectacular thing, which reminded me of a small Holly Tortrix. I retained one for a photo, and quickly ascertained it was the closely related Rhopobota myrtillana. Brilliant; not only a new moth for me but also effectively new to VC55 (VCH listed, so any records are pre 1907 but there are no specimens so cannot be verified).

The only other Lepidopteran highlights were a Maiden's Blush disturbed from oak and this early leafmine on the same tree ....

Acrocercops brongniardella

I've not seen an adult A. brongniardella for a number of years, so will try to remember to look out for later developed mines to try and rear one through.

As for the beetles, aside from one obvious click beetle which I have seen before (on Cairngorm!) three turned out to be new to me. First up, a weevil from heather that has only x5 prior VC55 records, the most recent of those being 1992. This is Strophosoma sus, subtly smart and boggly eyed ....

Also from heather were a couple of Lochmaea suturalis, and despite me thinking I have seen it before it wasn't on my list.

The click beetle I'd seen before was Ctenicera cuprea, pretty smart as clicks go.

Also from the heather and bilberry area was this Eurygaster testudinaria - confirmed to species and as a female by looking at the undercarriage.

Finally, from the same site but actually beaten from oak of all places was this new to me click beetle ....

Prosternon tessellatum

The inadvertent beetle ticks didn't end there, as in the evening at home I noted a bright green weevil sitting on the edge of a leaf on our small ornamental red Acer sp. Once potted up and checked through Mark Gurney's guides as a starter it soon came out to Polydrusus formosus, very common but new to me and the garden. It started nibbling a birch leaf as I tried to get snaps.

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