I'm in the process of uploading 500 Species here - keep checking back for updates. You can also see the whole project on Instagram @bumblebeetlebug.
No.170 - Glow worm! This dude was hanging around near a huge ant nest in RSPB Arne. I've seen glow worms (a different species to this) in caves in New Zealand, but I have yet to see them light up the night in the UK. It was really exciting to find this larva and see it close up. The Glow worm beetle (Lampyris noctiluca) is a bizarre creature. The adult male is a classic, hard-shelled beetle, however the adult female is soft-bodied, very similar in fact to the larva. But the female's body can also light up which is irresistible to the large, photosensitive eyes of the male. This bioluminescence is the result of a reaction between oxygen, energy molecules, enzymes and waste products in the female body. The resulting light show, en masse, in the dark is just glorious.
No.170 - Glow worm! This dude was hanging around near a huge ant nest in RSPB Arne. I've seen glow worms (a different species to this) in caves in New Zealand, but I have yet to see them light up the night in the UK. It was really exciting to find this larva and see it close up. The Glow worm beetle (Lampyris noctiluca) is a bizarre creature. The adult male is a classic, hard-shelled beetle, however the adult female is soft-bodied, very similar in fact to the larva. But the female's body can also light up which is irresistible to the large, photosensitive eyes of the male. This bioluminescence is the result of a reaction between oxygen, energy molecules, enzymes and waste products in the female body. The resulting light show, en masse, in the dark is just glorious.
No.169 - Remember I told you that hoverflies are my favourite Dipterans? Well, these guys come a close second. The Robberflies are back! This one came to say hi at Therfield Heath; the local, less common Slender-footed Robberfly (Leptarthrus brevirostris). It's one of the smaller Asilidae, but just as brilliant. Robberflies are an apex predator in the invertebrate world, capable of ambushing fairly large prey relative to their size. And the brushing of pollens grains through this fly’s bristles shows that even the carniverous invertebrates are brilliant pollinators!
No.169 - Remember I told you that hoverflies are my favourite Dipterans? Well, these guys come a close second. The Robberflies are back! This one came to say hi at Therfield Heath; the local, less common Slender-footed Robberfly (Leptarthrus brevirostris). It's one of the smaller Asilidae, but just as brilliant. Robberflies are an apex predator in the invertebrate world, capable of ambushing fairly large prey relative to their size. And the brushing of pollens grains through this fly’s bristles shows that even the carniverous invertebrates are brilliant pollinators!
No.168 - This was another first for me from the Herts Invertebrate Project at Hunsdon Mead recently. The grandiosely titled Bishop's Mitre Shieldbug is a very distinctive Shieldbug with a pointy head which is said to resemble the titular item of pious headwear. This one was looking particularly beautiful among the umbellifer flowers 😊
No.168 - This was another first for me from the Herts Invertebrate Project at Hunsdon Mead recently. The grandiosely titled Bishop's Mitre Shieldbug is a very distinctive Shieldbug with a pointy head which is said to resemble the titular item of pious headwear. This one was looking particularly beautiful among the umbellifer flowers 😊
No.167 - It's always good to see a decent sized beetle, and this one is no exception! The Lesser Stag Beetle (Dorcus parallelipipedus) is smaller than its more famous cousin, and lacks the 'antlers' but it is still one of our largest beetles at around an inch long. It’s an amazing beetle close up. Just look at this head! It’s got some heavy duty armour plating, and those jaws can deliver a right old nip... 
No.167 - It's always good to see a decent sized beetle, and this one is no exception! The Lesser Stag Beetle (Dorcus parallelipipedus) is smaller than its more famous cousin, and lacks the 'antlers' but it is still one of our largest beetles at around an inch long. It’s an amazing beetle close up. Just look at this head! It’s got some heavy duty armour plating, and those jaws can deliver a right old nip... 
No.166 - I’ve been photographing the Wasp Beetles (Clytus arietis) for weeks now, but was holding out for a more interesting shot. This beetle is either about to chew its own leg off, or it’s cleaning itself (I suspect the latter 😉) C.arietis is a striking wasp-mimic from the Cerambycidae (Longhorn) family of beetles, which usually lives in areas containing deciduous deadwood. I’ve met so many insects who rely on deadwood whilst doing my 500 Species projects. I do already have a couple of small wood piles in my garden, but I’m going to substantially increase my deadwood collection, as I’m learning about the sheer quantity of invertebrates which rely on it to complete their life cycles.  Do you guys have deadwood in your gardens? If you do, what have you found living in it?
No.166 - I’ve been photographing the Wasp Beetles (Clytus arietis) for weeks now, but was holding out for a more interesting shot. This beetle is either about to chew its own leg off, or it’s cleaning itself (I suspect the latter 😉) C.arietis is a striking wasp-mimic from the Cerambycidae (Longhorn) family of beetles, which usually lives in areas containing deciduous deadwood. I’ve met so many insects who rely on deadwood whilst doing my 500 Species projects. I do already have a couple of small wood piles in my garden, but I’m going to substantially increase my deadwood collection, as I’m learning about the sheer quantity of invertebrates which rely on it to complete their life cycles.  Do you guys have deadwood in your gardens? If you do, what have you found living in it?
No.165 - My new moth field guide is helping me get to grips with the huge quantity of species we have in the UK. This beautiful Mother Shipton (Callistege mi) is one of our more distinctive species. The pattern on each wing is said to resemble an old crone, more specifically the legendary 16th century Yorkshire ‘witch’, Mother Shipton (real name Ursula Southeil), who was renowned for her premonitions and soothsaying. 
No.165 - My new moth field guide is helping me get to grips with the huge quantity of species we have in the UK. This beautiful Mother Shipton (Callistege mi) is one of our more distinctive species. The pattern on each wing is said to resemble an old crone, more specifically the legendary 16th century Yorkshire ‘witch’, Mother Shipton (real name Ursula Southeil), who was renowned for her premonitions and soothsaying. 
No.164 - I met up with the Herts Invertebrate Project again yesterday, this time at Therfield Heath and Fox Covert near Royston. They do incredible work to record the county's inverts, and yesterday they found a first for Herts, the Down Shieldbug. Unfortunately I was running late and missed the discovery 😭. However I did get to see some amazing insects, including this gorgeous metallic green Cryptocephalus aureolus 💚
No.164 - I met up with the Herts Invertebrate Project again yesterday, this time at Therfield Heath and Fox Covert near Royston. They do incredible work to record the county's inverts, and yesterday they found a first for Herts, the Down Shieldbug. Unfortunately I was running late and missed the discovery 😭. However I did get to see some amazing insects, including this gorgeous metallic green Cryptocephalus aureolus 💚
No.163 - My family gave me a sweep net for my birthday, so I had a little practice in Hatfield Forest, and just look what I caught in it. This is one of the oddest inverts I've found so far this year - the Snakefly. There are just four UK species. I think this one is Phaetostigma notata - it would be great if anyone can confirm this. Apparently Snakeflies, although not uncommon, aren't seen that often as they mainly inhabitant the tree canopy. I was lucky to find this guy in the grass. Both the larva and the adult predate small insects. Just look at that crazy neck! What a cool insect!
No.163 - My family gave me a sweep net for my birthday, so I had a little practice in Hatfield Forest, and just look what I caught in it. This is one of the oddest inverts I've found so far this year - the Snakefly. There are just four UK species. I think this one is Phaetostigma notata - it would be great if anyone can confirm this. Apparently Snakeflies, although not uncommon, aren't seen that often as they mainly inhabitant the tree canopy. I was lucky to find this guy in the grass. Both the larva and the adult predate small insects. Just look at that crazy neck! What a cool insect!
No.162 - A stunning female Broad-bodied Chaser suns herself during the breaks in heavy cloud at Broxbourne Woods last week. The weather has been a bit bonkers lately!
No.162 - A stunning female Broad-bodied Chaser suns herself during the breaks in heavy cloud at Broxbourne Woods last week. The weather has been a bit bonkers lately!
No.161 - I'm finding a wide variety of hoverflies in my garden now. I don't even have to go to a nature reserve some days as there is so much going on right outside my window! And from the amazing photos by people I follow on IG, it's fantastic to see that so many of you also enjoy great diversity on your doorstep! I believe this lovely Syrphid is Eupeodes corollae - I was fairly certain, but doubt has been cast in my mind by the black base to the femora...
No.161 - I'm finding a wide variety of hoverflies in my garden now. I don't even have to go to a nature reserve some days as there is so much going on right outside my window! And from the amazing photos by people I follow on IG, it's fantastic to see that so many of you also enjoy great diversity on your doorstep! I believe this lovely Syrphid is Eupeodes corollae - I was fairly certain, but doubt has been cast in my mind by the black base to the femora...
No.160 - It took a while to even get a shot of a Brimstone, let alone get a decent one, but I finally caught up with one at RSPB Strumpshaw Fen. Brimstone butterflies are awesome. They are one of the first to appear in Spring, often when it’s still cold and wintery - they are tough cookies. This one looks like it’s seen a few chilly mornings..
No.160 - It took a while to even get a shot of a Brimstone, let alone get a decent one, but I finally caught up with one at RSPB Strumpshaw Fen. Brimstone butterflies are awesome. They are one of the first to appear in Spring, often when it’s still cold and wintery - they are tough cookies. This one looks like it’s seen a few chilly mornings..
No.159 - Hoverflies are my favourite Diptera family, and one of my favourite flying insects. They are so important as pollinators, yet get virtually no publicity compared to bees (which I also love, don't get me wrong). There are nearly 300 species of Syrphidae (Hoverfly family) in the UK, and they come in an eclectic array of forms, colours and behaviours. This is a common and widespread wasp mimic - Myathropa florea. It's highly likely you've seen one already. Like many other species, it has yellow bands on a black abdomen, but the M.florea also has distinctive broken grey horizontal bands on its thorax, which help with identification of this fantastic beast.
No.159 - Hoverflies are my favourite Diptera family, and one of my favourite flying insects. They are so important as pollinators, yet get virtually no publicity compared to bees (which I also love, don't get me wrong). There are nearly 300 species of Syrphidae (Hoverfly family) in the UK, and they come in an eclectic array of forms, colours and behaviours. This is a common and widespread wasp mimic - Myathropa florea. It's highly likely you've seen one already. Like many other species, it has yellow bands on a black abdomen, but the M.florea also has distinctive broken grey horizontal bands on its thorax, which help with identification of this fantastic beast.
No.158 - It must be pretty exciting to pupate. To transform from a pudgy caterpillar into a beautiful, elegant moth... But this caterpillar didn't read the instruction book on metamorphosis. It covered the instruction book in glitter and danced the Macarena around it. When I researched an ID for this photo, the fairly conventional Vapourer Moth was not what I imagined this slice of visual insanity was destined to become. I now want to run back to the forest, find this glorious beast and scream at it "Don't change!!! You will regret it!! Especially if you're female because you won't even have any wings!!!"
No.158 - It must be pretty exciting to pupate. To transform from a pudgy caterpillar into a beautiful, elegant moth... But this caterpillar didn't read the instruction book on metamorphosis. It covered the instruction book in glitter and danced the Macarena around it. When I researched an ID for this photo, the fairly conventional Vapourer Moth was not what I imagined this slice of visual insanity was destined to become. I now want to run back to the forest, find this glorious beast and scream at it "Don't change!!! You will regret it!! Especially if you're female because you won't even have any wings!!!"
No.157 - Today's foray to Hatfield Forest unearthed a few treasures, such as this stonking Acorn Weevil (Curculio glandium). It's the snoutiest weevil I've seen so far this year - the rostrum is almost as long as the rest of its body. The female Acorn Weevil uses this huge snout to drill a hole into the centre of an acorn, into which she will then lay an egg. The emerged larva eats the acorn and then 'hatches' out of the acorn shell to commence its adult life.
No.157 - Today's foray to Hatfield Forest unearthed a few treasures, such as this stonking Acorn Weevil (Curculio glandium). It's the snoutiest weevil I've seen so far this year - the rostrum is almost as long as the rest of its body. The female Acorn Weevil uses this huge snout to drill a hole into the centre of an acorn, into which she will then lay an egg. The emerged larva eats the acorn and then 'hatches' out of the acorn shell to commence its adult life.
No.156 - Another lovely beetle I found in Broxbourne Woods was this Gonioctena decemnotata. It is also a Chrysomelid, like the Poplar Leaf Beetle, although this one is around half the size; I almost mistook it for a Ladybird as I walked past it. This beetle is local, and generally found only in the south-east of the UK.
No.156 - Another lovely beetle I found in Broxbourne Woods was this Gonioctena decemnotata. It is also a Chrysomelid, like the Poplar Leaf Beetle, although this one is around half the size; I almost mistook it for a Ladybird as I walked past it. This beetle is local, and generally found only in the south-east of the UK.
No.155 - Not content to let the Swallowtails steal the show, this Hairy Dragonfly decided to get in on the action at Strumpshaw Fen. It landed right in front of me whilst I was waiting for the star turn to reappear. To be honest, this was just as exciting as I’d been watching the Hawkers from an infuriating distance all day, so to see one up close was awesome. Did you see the Dragonfly larvae on Springwatch this week? Those amazing telescopic jaws!! What an amazing predator 🦈 (closest emoji I could get 🤣)
No.155 - Not content to let the Swallowtails steal the show, this Hairy Dragonfly decided to get in on the action at Strumpshaw Fen. It landed right in front of me whilst I was waiting for the star turn to reappear. To be honest, this was just as exciting as I’d been watching the Hawkers from an infuriating distance all day, so to see one up close was awesome. Did you see the Dragonfly larvae on Springwatch this week? Those amazing telescopic jaws!! What an amazing predator 🦈 (closest emoji I could get 🤣)
No.154 - There are loads of these predatory Snipeflies out at the moment - this one and many others fooling me into thinking they were Robberflies.. This is most likely the Downward-looking Snipefly (Rhagio scolopaceus), a common and widespread species. They are an essential link in the food chain, as they eat smaller flying insects, and themselves provide a decent sized protein hit for spiders and birds.
No.154 - There are loads of these predatory Snipeflies out at the moment - this one and many others fooling me into thinking they were Robberflies.. This is most likely the Downward-looking Snipefly (Rhagio scolopaceus), a common and widespread species. They are an essential link in the food chain, as they eat smaller flying insects, and themselves provide a decent sized protein hit for spiders and birds.
No.153 - This rather large Chrysomelidae (Leaf Beetle) was stomping around the heath in Broxbourne Woods. It’s a Poplar Leaf Beetle (Chrysomela populi). I've never seen one of these before, which is surprising as they are rather conspicuous - bright red and around 1cm long. They can be found on Poplar and Willow from late spring.
No.153 - This rather large Chrysomelidae (Leaf Beetle) was stomping around the heath in Broxbourne Woods. It’s a Poplar Leaf Beetle (Chrysomela populi). I've never seen one of these before, which is surprising as they are rather conspicuous - bright red and around 1cm long. They can be found on Poplar and Willow from late spring.
No.152 - Continuing the bug theme, here is another species with a distinctive pattern, the Nettle Ground Bug (Heterogaster urticae). It can be identified by the dark and light bands on its tibiae, and also the long hairs on its head and pronotum. As you have probably guessed, its preferred host plant is nettle :) This one was in my garden; I recently acquired some unwanted nettles from my neighbour and replanted them in my wild patch, and I think this little guy may have hitched a ride!
No.152 - Continuing the bug theme, here is another species with a distinctive pattern, the Nettle Ground Bug (Heterogaster urticae). It can be identified by the dark and light bands on its tibiae, and also the long hairs on its head and pronotum. As you have probably guessed, its preferred host plant is nettle :) This one was in my garden; I recently acquired some unwanted nettles from my neighbour and replanted them in my wild patch, and I think this little guy may have hitched a ride!
No.151 - This was an exciting find at the Herts Invertebrate Project recording meeting recently - the Denticulate Leatherbug (Coriomeris denticulatus). It is so-called as it has a row of tooth-like spines running along the edge of its shoulder (if Leatherbugs have shoulders) which make it look pretty fearsome. I’ve cropped in here to show them more clearly. However despite its savage looking weaponry, it is actually a herbivore, feeding on clover and other plants in open grassland
No.151 - This was an exciting find at the Herts Invertebrate Project recording meeting recently - the Denticulate Leatherbug (Coriomeris denticulatus). It is so-called as it has a row of tooth-like spines running along the edge of its shoulder (if Leatherbugs have shoulders) which make it look pretty fearsome. I’ve cropped in here to show them more clearly. However despite its savage looking weaponry, it is actually a herbivore, feeding on clover and other plants in open grassland
No.150 - This one was a complete surprise, and an absolute delight to discover at Strumpshaw Fen. The Lime Hawk Moth (Mimas tiliae) is a large moth of the Sphingidae family. It was sleeping in the hide next to reception, and had absolutely no idea of the excited humans gathering around it 😊
No.150 - This one was a complete surprise, and an absolute delight to discover at Strumpshaw Fen. The Lime Hawk Moth (Mimas tiliae) is a large moth of the Sphingidae family. It was sleeping in the hide next to reception, and had absolutely no idea of the excited humans gathering around it 😊
No.149 - Wow this guy has been down the gym. Look at those thighs! I found lots of these Swollen-thighed Beetles - aka Thick-legged Flower Beetle (Oedemera nobilis) on an old heath in my local area yesterday, and they really live up to their name! Just the males have the enormous shiny femora - the females are much more understated, however they can be distinguished by the gap in the elytra. They are pollen eaters from the False-blister Beetle family (Oedemeridae) and they can be found congregating in flower heads from May-time, when the wildflowers are in full flower.
No.149 - Wow this guy has been down the gym. Look at those thighs! I found lots of these Swollen-thighed Beetles - aka Thick-legged Flower Beetle (Oedemera nobilis) on an old heath in my local area yesterday, and they really live up to their name! Just the males have the enormous shiny femora - the females are much more understated, however they can be distinguished by the gap in the elytra. They are pollen eaters from the False-blister Beetle family (Oedemeridae) and they can be found congregating in flower heads from May-time, when the wildflowers are in full flower.
No.148 - I'm becoming a bit obsessed with Odonata at the moment. There's something very primordial about them. Every time I see one fly past me I feel like I'm seeing a glimpse into our prehistoric past. The supposed ancestors of dragonflies are thought to have existed 300 million years ago, pre-dating the dinosaurs. This female Red-eyed Damselfly was resting in the sun at Thorley Wash nature reserve last week
No.148 - I'm becoming a bit obsessed with Odonata at the moment. There's something very primordial about them. Every time I see one fly past me I feel like I'm seeing a glimpse into our prehistoric past. The supposed ancestors of dragonflies are thought to have existed 300 million years ago, pre-dating the dinosaurs. This female Red-eyed Damselfly was resting in the sun at Thorley Wash nature reserve last week
No.147 - My trip to Strumpshaw Fen the other day was primarily a quest to find the newly-emerging Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio machaon), although I did find some other amazing species there too.  It took a while to find them, and I saw just two of them but believe me it was worth the journey and the wait! This spectacular butterfly is a rare and very localised species which is only found in certain parts of the Norfolk Broads, where they appear to be doing well in this protected and specialised habitat.
No.147 - My trip to Strumpshaw Fen the other day was primarily a quest to find the newly-emerging Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio machaon), although I did find some other amazing species there too.  It took a while to find them, and I saw just two of them but believe me it was worth the journey and the wait! This spectacular butterfly is a rare and very localised species which is only found in certain parts of the Norfolk Broads, where they appear to be doing well in this protected and specialised habitat.
Day no.146, species no.146! To see the number of species posted overtake the number of days elapsed is a big milestone - I feel like I’m making progress now!  This extraordinary insect is Platystomos albinus, a scarce weevil which lives in dead wood. It was found during the Herts Invertebrate Project recording meeting last weekend, and caused considerable excitement :) The males have much longer antennae than the females, so I reckon this one is a fella...
Day no.146, species no.146! To see the number of species posted overtake the number of days elapsed is a big milestone - I feel like I’m making progress now!  This extraordinary insect is Platystomos albinus, a scarce weevil which lives in dead wood. It was found during the Herts Invertebrate Project recording meeting last weekend, and caused considerable excitement :) The males have much longer antennae than the females, so I reckon this one is a fella...
No.145 - Shieldbugs have cornered the market in shoulder-pads. This Birch Shieldbug (Elasmostethus interstinctus) is sporting a smart black pair. Named shield bugs due to their shield-like shape when fully matured, these bugs are also called Stinkbugs for the defensive odour they emit from abdominal glands.
No.145 - Shieldbugs have cornered the market in shoulder-pads. This Birch Shieldbug (Elasmostethus interstinctus) is sporting a smart black pair. Named shield bugs due to their shield-like shape when fully matured, these bugs are also called Stinkbugs for the defensive odour they emit from abdominal glands.
No.144 - What the heck? It's a green jumping spider! A Sun jumping spider to be exact. I've never seen one of these before it turned up in a sweep net at the Herts Invertebrate Project meeting last week. What a dude, with its lime green legs and go-faster stripe. As is generally the thing with spiders, this genus (Heliophanus) requires microscopic examination to ID to species, but this one is probably either H.cupreus or H.flavipes.
No.144 - What the heck? It's a green jumping spider! A Sun jumping spider to be exact. I've never seen one of these before it turned up in a sweep net at the Herts Invertebrate Project meeting last week. What a dude, with its lime green legs and go-faster stripe. As is generally the thing with spiders, this genus (Heliophanus) requires microscopic examination to ID to species, but this one is probably either H.cupreus or H.flavipes.
No.143 - Last week I met up with the Herts Invertebrate Project, who go out on regular meetings in the summer to collect data in nature reserves and SSSIs throughout Hertfordshire. It's the first time I've been to an official recording meeting. I had a very warm welcome and learned a lot about fieldwork. Thank you so much to @danasawusrex et al for letting me join them for the day, and teaching me some impressive beetle holding techniques!  This chap is an Umbellifer Longhorn Beetle (Phytoecia cylindrica). It has a huge appetite for Cow Parsley and other umbelliferous plants, and is local to the south-east of the UK. I'm also getting the Cute-ometer out for this one - at least 7.5 as he is rather handsome :)
No.143 - Last week I met up with the Herts Invertebrate Project, who go out on regular meetings in the summer to collect data in nature reserves and SSSIs throughout Hertfordshire. It's the first time I've been to an official recording meeting. I had a very warm welcome and learned a lot about fieldwork. Thank you so much to @danasawusrex et al for letting me join them for the day, and teaching me some impressive beetle holding techniques!  This chap is an Umbellifer Longhorn Beetle (Phytoecia cylindrica). It has a huge appetite for Cow Parsley and other umbelliferous plants, and is local to the south-east of the UK. I'm also getting the Cute-ometer out for this one - at least 7.5 as he is rather handsome :)
No.142 - As much as I enjoy seeing fresh new butterflies, in all their pristine finery, it's these ones that I really love - battered, bruised but battling on. I thought this Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) was a Comma when it flew past me as it was such a strange shape. It was only when I zoomed in on my laptop that I realised why I couldn't see the trademark blue markings around its bottom wings - they had disappeared. How these frayed wings still manage to keep butterflies airborne is a wonder of nature.  Butterfly wings are made of that amazing stuff, chitin, and are covered in thousands of the tiny, reflective scales which give each species their distinctive markings. But they are so easily damaged by rain, near misses with predators, brushes with vegetation and sheer flying hours. I feel like I can see every single wingbeat in this butterfly, telling the story of its extraordinary fight for survival.
No.142 - As much as I enjoy seeing fresh new butterflies, in all their pristine finery, it's these ones that I really love - battered, bruised but battling on. I thought this Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) was a Comma when it flew past me as it was such a strange shape. It was only when I zoomed in on my laptop that I realised why I couldn't see the trademark blue markings around its bottom wings - they had disappeared. How these frayed wings still manage to keep butterflies airborne is a wonder of nature.  Butterfly wings are made of that amazing stuff, chitin, and are covered in thousands of the tiny, reflective scales which give each species their distinctive markings. But they are so easily damaged by rain, near misses with predators, brushes with vegetation and sheer flying hours. I feel like I can see every single wingbeat in this butterfly, telling the story of its extraordinary fight for survival.
No.141 - I had the most incredible close-up encounter with this young Scarce Chaser at Strumpshaw Fen today. I had been watching them from a distance all morning with my long lens, but this one sat and let me approach it with the 100mm macro. At this distance I could see every detail of its magnificent wing gear, and those stunning eyes. What an amazing invertebrate! 
No.141 - I had the most incredible close-up encounter with this young Scarce Chaser at Strumpshaw Fen today. I had been watching them from a distance all morning with my long lens, but this one sat and let me approach it with the 100mm macro. At this distance I could see every detail of its magnificent wing gear, and those stunning eyes. What an amazing invertebrate! 
The Kindness of Strangers..
No.133 - Happy World Bee Day! 🐝 
This photo has a lovely story to go with it. I found the White-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lucorum agg), below, on the footpath up to Stanage Edge last week. It must have been blown a bit off course because the flowering bilberry was much lower down the path. I picked it up and was checking it was ok, when a man with his two daughters walked down the path towards us. They spotted the bee and were really interested in it. We chatted about it for a while and I said I was going to carry it back down the path to the flowers. The man offered to take it down as he was going that way, so off they went, carrying the bee on the stick, to offer it some much needed nectar. This small act of kindness was very special, as this tiny insect had connected humans in a collective effort to protect nature. I also wondered how much of a difference would be made to the natural world if we could extrapolated these kindnesses to every person, all the time.
I had assumed that this was a straightforward White-tail, but when I checked the description, I discovered that this bee is very similar to two other species, B.Cryptarum, and B.magnus. They can only be separated by DNA analysis, so they are grouped as an 'aggregate'.
No.140 - I thought I’d photograph the back end of this Cucumber Spider, to fully illustrate how it gets its name.  These spiders have a bright green abdomen which make them a fairly distinctive genus. However, the five UK species are very similar. This one is probably either A.curcurbitina or A.opisthographa, and these two common species can only be identified through a microscope (which I don't have) by an expert (which I am not). As it is, all of these species are generically called Cucumber Spiders.  They are part of the Orb-weaver family, and they spin webs amongst leaves in vegetation to catch small invertebrates. Here you can also see the silk coming from the spinneret as the spider constructs its web around the edge of a leaf 🍃
No.140 - I thought I’d photograph the back end of this Cucumber Spider, to fully illustrate how it gets its name.  These spiders have a bright green abdomen which make them a fairly distinctive genus. However, the five UK species are very similar. This one is probably either A.curcurbitina or A.opisthographa, and these two common species can only be identified through a microscope (which I don't have) by an expert (which I am not). As it is, all of these species are generically called Cucumber Spiders.  They are part of the Orb-weaver family, and they spin webs amongst leaves in vegetation to catch small invertebrates. Here you can also see the silk coming from the spinneret as the spider constructs its web around the edge of a leaf 🍃
No.139 - I had to include the Alderfly in my 500. It’s prolific at the moment, anywhere near Water you will see them sitting on the ground, fence posts and vegetation. It isn’t a particularly remarkable creature at first glance, but close up they have extraordinary wing veneration. The veins are thick and deep, and remind me of stained-glass windows.
No.139 - I had to include the Alderfly in my 500. It’s prolific at the moment, anywhere near Water you will see them sitting on the ground, fence posts and vegetation. It isn’t a particularly remarkable creature at first glance, but close up they have extraordinary wing veneration. The veins are thick and deep, and remind me of stained-glass windows.
No.138 - This is a new one for me, so hope I've got the ID right - let me know if I'm wrong! The Turnip Sawfly (Athalia rosea) is one of the estimated 500 species of Sawfly we have, and it's one of the brightest too. It's bright orange body and black 'shoulder-pads' are very distinctive. I'm really curious as to what it's inspecting here. If anyone knows, please enlighten me, as apart from it being a tiny roll of parma ham, I have no idea!
No.138 - This is a new one for me, so hope I've got the ID right - let me know if I'm wrong! The Turnip Sawfly (Athalia rosea) is one of the estimated 500 species of Sawfly we have, and it's one of the brightest too. It's bright orange body and black 'shoulder-pads' are very distinctive. I'm really curious as to what it's inspecting here. If anyone knows, please enlighten me, as apart from it being a tiny roll of parma ham, I have no idea!
No.137 - Another treasure from Hatfield Forest last week was this beautiful Malachite Beetle (Malachius bipustulatus). It has two distinctive red spots at the tips of its elytra, and a deep metallic green sheen. It is one of the 17 species of Soft-Winged Flower Beetles in the UK and Ireland. Although it looks exotic, this is a common species and you are very likely to spot one along woodland edges, so keep your eyes peeled!
No.137 - Another treasure from Hatfield Forest last week was this beautiful Malachite Beetle (Malachius bipustulatus). It has two distinctive red spots at the tips of its elytra, and a deep metallic green sheen. It is one of the 17 species of Soft-Winged Flower Beetles in the UK and Ireland. Although it looks exotic, this is a common species and you are very likely to spot one along woodland edges, so keep your eyes peeled!
No.136 - This one confused me for a while. It's a tiny thing, just 2 or 3mm in length, and so furry I thought it might be a moth. I had no idea which insect order to even start with, so I appealed to Twitter and @dr_rossco_p soon put me right. It's an Owl Midge, also known as a Drain-fly, Moth-fly Sink-fly and other unflattering names 😏. I'm not going to attempt a species ID, or even a genus, but I can tell you that this, and around a hundred other species live in the UK. I found lots of this rainbow coloured species deep in the cracks of tree bark, and they were hard to photograph, I can tell you. Owl midges get their other name - Drain-fly - from their habit of populating drainage and plumbing systems. This was the best photo I got on this occasion, not very detailed but it shows the colours well. If you want to see a much better shot, have a look at the one on @dougeeehoo ’s feed (his is a black species and a lovely crisp shot).
No.136 - This one confused me for a while. It's a tiny thing, just 2 or 3mm in length, and so furry I thought it might be a moth. I had no idea which insect order to even start with, so I appealed to Twitter and @dr_rossco_p soon put me right. It's an Owl Midge, also known as a Drain-fly, Moth-fly Sink-fly and other unflattering names 😏. I'm not going to attempt a species ID, or even a genus, but I can tell you that this, and around a hundred other species live in the UK. I found lots of this rainbow coloured species deep in the cracks of tree bark, and they were hard to photograph, I can tell you. Owl midges get their other name - Drain-fly - from their habit of populating drainage and plumbing systems. This was the best photo I got on this occasion, not very detailed but it shows the colours well. If you want to see a much better shot, have a look at the one on @dougeeehoo ’s feed (his is a black species and a lovely crisp shot).
No.135 - I've been seeing these guys for weeks now but they had hitherto evaded my lens. The Dock Bug (Coreus marginatus) is a large brown bug in the Leatherbug (Coreidae) family. There are quite similar species in this family, however the Dock Bug has the unique feature of two small horn-like projections between its antennae. I took a few photos of this individual, but I really loved this angle, showing the lesser-seen underside, and it also shows really clearly those projections. It also looks dead cute giving us a wave 👋 
No.135 - I've been seeing these guys for weeks now but they had hitherto evaded my lens. The Dock Bug (Coreus marginatus) is a large brown bug in the Leatherbug (Coreidae) family. There are quite similar species in this family, however the Dock Bug has the unique feature of two small horn-like projections between its antennae. I took a few photos of this individual, but I really loved this angle, showing the lesser-seen underside, and it also shows really clearly those projections. It also looks dead cute giving us a wave 👋 
No.134 - Another lovely native Ladybird ticked off the list! This one is the 14-spot (Propylea quattuordecimpunctata), which is similar to the 16-spot, but this one has a particular taste for aphids. I found this one in Hatfield Forest, one of my favourite local places to have a meander and enjoy bug-hunting.
No.134 - Another lovely native Ladybird ticked off the list! This one is the 14-spot (Propylea quattuordecimpunctata), which is similar to the 16-spot, but this one has a particular taste for aphids. I found this one in Hatfield Forest, one of my favourite local places to have a meander and enjoy bug-hunting.
133. Bombus lucorum agg.
133. Bombus lucorum agg.
No.132 - One of the highlights of my trip to Broxbourne Woods last week was seeing the Leaf-rolling Weevils (Byctiscus populi) at work. The weevil will roll up tree leave like a cigar and lay eggs in it. The rolled leaves are magnificent constructions, and many times larger than the the weevils themselves. I’m thinking of filming a timelapse of the rolling process to see just how it’s done. These are one of my favourite weevils - stunning metallic multicoloured jewels 💎
No.132 - One of the highlights of my trip to Broxbourne Woods last week was seeing the Leaf-rolling Weevils (Byctiscus populi) at work. The weevil will roll up tree leave like a cigar and lay eggs in it. The rolled leaves are magnificent constructions, and many times larger than the the weevils themselves. I’m thinking of filming a timelapse of the rolling process to see just how it’s done. These are one of my favourite weevils - stunning metallic multicoloured jewels 💎
No.131 - New species for my project are popping up everywhere. This one was wondering around on my fridge :) It was also rather dusty so it must have overwintered in a corner of the pantry! A common bug in the south of the UK, Rhopalus is a genus of four species. This one is R.subrufus - the scutellum is bifid, meaning it ends in two points.
No.131 - New species for my project are popping up everywhere. This one was wondering around on my fridge :) It was also rather dusty so it must have overwintered in a corner of the pantry! A common bug in the south of the UK, Rhopalus is a genus of four species. This one is R.subrufus - the scutellum is bifid, meaning it ends in two points.
No.130 - After weeks of photo envy, seeing fellow photographers' amazing photos of the mighty Misumena vatia, I finally found one. The females are famous for the huge abdomen, and their ability to change colour according to their host plant. They are also known as the Flower Spider and Goldenrod Spider in the US, and are, for many, the quintessential Crab Spider. This female was in the process of injecting her venom into this hefty fly. Misumena can catch very large prey for their size, including bees and butterflies. They will sit on the top of the plant or flower, camouflage themselves and wait for unsuspecting invertebrates to land within their grasp. Amazingly, as I was photographing, another fly actually came in and tried to mate with this one. The spider grabbed for that one too, but had its hands a bit full and the second fly wrestled itself free.
No.130 - After weeks of photo envy, seeing fellow photographers' amazing photos of the mighty Misumena vatia, I finally found one. The females are famous for the huge abdomen, and their ability to change colour according to their host plant. They are also known as the Flower Spider and Goldenrod Spider in the US, and are, for many, the quintessential Crab Spider. This female was in the process of injecting her venom into this hefty fly. Misumena can catch very large prey for their size, including bees and butterflies. They will sit on the top of the plant or flower, camouflage themselves and wait for unsuspecting invertebrates to land within their grasp. Amazingly, as I was photographing, another fly actually came in and tried to mate with this one. The spider grabbed for that one too, but had its hands a bit full and the second fly wrestled itself free.
No.129 - This magnificent specimen is Cloeon dipterum, a species of Mayfly, also known as the Pond Olive. It is one of the flies which has been immortalised into the ‘fishing fly’, used by anglers to lure fish. The female Pond Olive has an unusually long life span for a Mayfly. After mating, she will go off to rest for up to a fortnight before laying a large quantity of eggs, thus completing her life cycle. 
No.129 - This magnificent specimen is Cloeon dipterum, a species of Mayfly, also known as the Pond Olive. It is one of the flies which has been immortalised into the ‘fishing fly’, used by anglers to lure fish. The female Pond Olive has an unusually long life span for a Mayfly. After mating, she will go off to rest for up to a fortnight before laying a large quantity of eggs, thus completing her life cycle. 
No.128 - I found this fabulous Pine-stump Borer beetle (Asemum striatum) at Studland Bay, in the same area as the Ant Beetle which was surprising, as these guys are usually nocturnal. It's a big, meaty beetle, whose larvae take 2 or 3 years to develop and feed on dead pine wood. It’s surface texture is quite different to most beetles I photograph; matte, and undulating, like an old Hornbeam...
No.128 - I found this fabulous Pine-stump Borer beetle (Asemum striatum) at Studland Bay, in the same area as the Ant Beetle which was surprising, as these guys are usually nocturnal. It's a big, meaty beetle, whose larvae take 2 or 3 years to develop and feed on dead pine wood. It’s surface texture is quite different to most beetles I photograph; matte, and undulating, like an old Hornbeam...
No.127 - With the Red-head in the bag, it was great to add the Black-headed Cardinal Beetle (Pyrochroa coccinea) to my list. I found both species in Broxbourne Woods; this one is less common. What I didn't know about Cardinals, until I shot this one, was that their elytra have a satin sheen. The flash must have been at the right angle this time to pick up the texture. They also have really funky antennae :)
No.127 - With the Red-head in the bag, it was great to add the Black-headed Cardinal Beetle (Pyrochroa coccinea) to my list. I found both species in Broxbourne Woods; this one is less common. What I didn't know about Cardinals, until I shot this one, was that their elytra have a satin sheen. The flash must have been at the right angle this time to pick up the texture. They also have really funky antennae :)
No.126 - Another one to tick off the Ladybird list! This is a 16-spot (Tytthaspis sedecimpunctata) and it’s a teeny one, as you can see from the size of the dandelion stamens next to it :) This brings my Ladybird tally up to seven, only another 46 to find! This Ladybird is a veggie, feeding on nectar, fungus and pollen.
No.126 - Another one to tick off the Ladybird list! This is a 16-spot (Tytthaspis sedecimpunctata) and it’s a teeny one, as you can see from the size of the dandelion stamens next to it :) This brings my Ladybird tally up to seven, only another 46 to find! This Ladybird is a veggie, feeding on nectar, fungus and pollen.
No.125 - This Nomad Bee narrowly avoided becoming lunch. Just as I took this photo, a crab spider ambushed it. On this occasion the bee reacted quickly enough to escape. I'm being brave and IDing this one solo - I think it's a Flavous Nomad Bee (Nomada flava), one of the more common and widespread cuckoo bees - do you think I’ve nailed it?
No.125 - This Nomad Bee narrowly avoided becoming lunch. Just as I took this photo, a crab spider ambushed it. On this occasion the bee reacted quickly enough to escape. I'm being brave and IDing this one solo - I think it's a Flavous Nomad Bee (Nomada flava), one of the more common and widespread cuckoo bees - do you think I’ve nailed it?
No.124 - Part fly, part panda 🐼  This is Leucozona lucorum, a large fluffy hoverfly, which was sunning itself on the woodland edge in Broxbourne Woods yesterday. Their larvae feed on aphids, so big thumbs up for these guys. I’m still so surprised by the diversity of hoverflies, and their adaptations to mimic other insects. This one seems to be trying to look like a bee 🐝 
No.124 - Part fly, part panda 🐼  This is Leucozona lucorum, a large fluffy hoverfly, which was sunning itself on the woodland edge in Broxbourne Woods yesterday. Their larvae feed on aphids, so big thumbs up for these guys. I’m still so surprised by the diversity of hoverflies, and their adaptations to mimic other insects. This one seems to be trying to look like a bee 🐝 
No.123 - I spent a rather bountiful afternoon in Broxbourne Woods yesterday. I intended to walk right around it, but ended up spending over an hour at one patch of young birch trees. There was so much to photograph!  This Philodromus dispar was waiting around the lower margins of the tree for ambush opportunities. The Male P.dispar is very different to the female, with his almost-black upper half and pale legs. The female is brown and more similar to other Philodromus species.  I couldn’t place an ID straight away so thanks to Richard Lewington for IDing via Twitter.
No.123 - I spent a rather bountiful afternoon in Broxbourne Woods yesterday. I intended to walk right around it, but ended up spending over an hour at one patch of young birch trees. There was so much to photograph!  This Philodromus dispar was waiting around the lower margins of the tree for ambush opportunities. The Male P.dispar is very different to the female, with his almost-black upper half and pale legs. The female is brown and more similar to other Philodromus species.  I couldn’t place an ID straight away so thanks to Richard Lewington for IDing via Twitter.
No.122 - I call this moth ‘Elvis’; with its mop of black hair and spangly cape, Micropterix mansuetella certainly commands attention. Each one of those tiny wing scales seems to shine like a mirror. It was a challenge lighting-wise; I had to choose my angle carefully to maximise the reflectivity of the scales’ surface.
No.122 - I call this moth ‘Elvis’; with its mop of black hair and spangly cape, Micropterix mansuetella certainly commands attention. Each one of those tiny wing scales seems to shine like a mirror. It was a challenge lighting-wise; I had to choose my angle carefully to maximise the reflectivity of the scales’ surface.
No.121 - One of our widespread, common species, the Green-veined White is a striking butterfly with a delicate vein pattern on its underwing which looks like it has been airbrushed on. I read on the Butterfly Conservation website that the females lay bottle shaped eggs 🍾😊
No.121 - One of our widespread, common species, the Green-veined White is a striking butterfly with a delicate vein pattern on its underwing which looks like it has been airbrushed on. I read on the Butterfly Conservation website that the females lay bottle shaped eggs 🍾😊
No.120 - I spotted this Marsh Click Beetle whilst I was photographing the Four-spotted Chaser at #RSPBArne last week. It’s huge compared to some of the clicks I’ve be finding recently. There were lots of them ‘congregating’ 😉 on the reeds around the pond. This species grows up to 1.5cm long, which is a massive relief after squinting at beetles a few mm long! It’s also got a lovely hairy pattern and rich coppery sheen to it which looks great in the sunshine. The larvae develop underground and eat plant roots.
No.120 - I spotted this Marsh Click Beetle whilst I was photographing the Four-spotted Chaser at #RSPBArne last week. It’s huge compared to some of the clicks I’ve be finding recently. There were lots of them ‘congregating’ 😉 on the reeds around the pond. This species grows up to 1.5cm long, which is a massive relief after squinting at beetles a few mm long! It’s also got a lovely hairy pattern and rich coppery sheen to it which looks great in the sunshine. The larvae develop underground and eat plant roots.
No.119 - I'm not-so-much playing cat and mouse with the Odonata, more like 'sit-and-wait-for-a-long-time’... There were a few damselflies and chasers flying at Wicken Fen, including this beautiful Azure damselfly (Coenagrion puella). I'm totally in awe of all of you who have managed to naturally photograph these guys close up. They are quite nervous and tend to move away from movement...or maybe it's just me 🤣
No.119 - I'm not-so-much playing cat and mouse with the Odonata, more like 'sit-and-wait-for-a-long-time’... There were a few damselflies and chasers flying at Wicken Fen, including this beautiful Azure damselfly (Coenagrion puella). I'm totally in awe of all of you who have managed to naturally photograph these guys close up. They are quite nervous and tend to move away from movement...or maybe it's just me 🤣
No.118 - Mum and I were chatting in her garden when these Lily Beetles caught my eye and I pointed them out to her. Seriously, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen her lose it. 🤣Turns out that this is her arch enemy, and there were loads of them munching on her fritillaries and making out with each other. Lilioceris lilii can cause a lot of damage in gardens, and gardeners go to great lengths to prevent their proliferation. This is a non-native species, introduced around eighty years ago. According to RHS records, it has undertaken a distribution explosion in the last 30 years. I'd be interested to hear your opinions on whether this beetle, and other 'pest' beetles, should be left to do their thing, or whether they are a threat to native species and should be controlled? What do you think?
No.118 - Mum and I were chatting in her garden when these Lily Beetles caught my eye and I pointed them out to her. Seriously, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen her lose it. 🤣Turns out that this is her arch enemy, and there were loads of them munching on her fritillaries and making out with each other. Lilioceris lilii can cause a lot of damage in gardens, and gardeners go to great lengths to prevent their proliferation. This is a non-native species, introduced around eighty years ago. According to RHS records, it has undertaken a distribution explosion in the last 30 years. I'd be interested to hear your opinions on whether this beetle, and other 'pest' beetles, should be left to do their thing, or whether they are a threat to native species and should be controlled? What do you think?
No.117 - I was up North at the weekend, and made a trip out to the Peak District with my family. One of the first things I saw when I headed up the footpath was swathes of Bilberry in flower, so I crossed my fingers and hoped I'd see some Bilberry Mining Bees. Et voila! Also known as Andrena lapponica, this is a widespread but very localised bee with a huge penchant for Bilberry. This one was foraging around the huge gritstone boulders of Stanage Edge.
No.117 - I was up North at the weekend, and made a trip out to the Peak District with my family. One of the first things I saw when I headed up the footpath was swathes of Bilberry in flower, so I crossed my fingers and hoped I'd see some Bilberry Mining Bees. Et voila! Also known as Andrena lapponica, this is a widespread but very localised bee with a huge penchant for Bilberry. This one was foraging around the huge gritstone boulders of Stanage Edge.
No.116 - The Red-and-black Froghopper (Cercopis vulnerata) is one of the UK’s largest bugs. This one caught my eye while I was sat in a ditch in Wicken Fen. This is the only froghopper species in the UK with the distinct red and black colourway. IDing the emerged adult is easy. The nymphs, however are much more secretive, staying underground to eat roots.
No.116 - The Red-and-black Froghopper (Cercopis vulnerata) is one of the UK’s largest bugs. This one caught my eye while I was sat in a ditch in Wicken Fen. This is the only froghopper species in the UK with the distinct red and black colourway. IDing the emerged adult is easy. The nymphs, however are much more secretive, staying underground to eat roots.
No.115 - I’m really excited about this one. It’s not rare, and I’ve seen it before, but it’s just such a cool beetle. It’s Timarcha tenebricosa, the Bloody-nosed Beetle. It’s a whopping great juggernaut of a leaf beetle. The name couldn’t be less suited, character wise, from this little beast - it derives from its ability to exude red fluid from its mouth to deter predators.  I’ve seen three in all now, and all those encounters have put a massive smile on my face. My greatest argument for why insects are as fabulous as mammals would be this guy. How many wild mammals would happily walk around on your arm and let you observe them this closely? And it’s SO cute too - look at those paws! (Yes, beetle feet are very similar to paws 🐾) If you ever see one, sit down and gently put it on your hand for a couple of minutes and let it amble around. I guarantee you’ll walk away smiling from ear to ear!  Best beetle in the UK?  I think so. 🖤🖤🖤
No.115 - I’m really excited about this one. It’s not rare, and I’ve seen it before, but it’s just such a cool beetle. It’s Timarcha tenebricosa, the Bloody-nosed Beetle. It’s a whopping great juggernaut of a leaf beetle. The name couldn’t be less suited, character wise, from this little beast - it derives from its ability to exude red fluid from its mouth to deter predators.  I’ve seen three in all now, and all those encounters have put a massive smile on my face. My greatest argument for why insects are as fabulous as mammals would be this guy. How many wild mammals would happily walk around on your arm and let you observe them this closely? And it’s SO cute too - look at those paws! (Yes, beetle feet are very similar to paws 🐾) If you ever see one, sit down and gently put it on your hand for a couple of minutes and let it amble around. I guarantee you’ll walk away smiling from ear to ear! Best beetle in the UK?  I think so. 🖤🖤🖤
No.114 - Seeing a beetle on tippy-toes really makes me smile 😊  I know how it feels, I have to do this every time I need something from the top of the kitchen cupboard.. This is Phyllotreta ochripes, another flea beetle from the Chrysomelidae family. There are over 270 described UK species in this family, which is probably why I seem to find a lot of them. They are also one of the more eclectic beetle families, coming in all shapes, sizes and colours 🌈 
No.114 - Seeing a beetle on tippy-toes really makes me smile 😊  I know how it feels, I have to do this every time I need something from the top of the kitchen cupboard.. This is Phyllotreta ochripes, another flea beetle from the Chrysomelidae family. There are over 270 described UK species in this family, which is probably why I seem to find a lot of them. They are also one of the more eclectic beetle families, coming in all shapes, sizes and colours 🌈 
No.113 - The Orange-tip Butterfly (Anthocharis cardamines). Contrary to their name, they don’t all have orange wing tips! The females have lovely monochrome upper wings, and resemble the other white butterflies at first glance. But the underside of their wings reveals their true identity with a gorgeous mottling of yellow, and black perforation marks around the edge. This female was resting on a butterfly favourite, the nettle.
No.113 - The Orange-tip Butterfly (Anthocharis cardamines). Contrary to their name, they don’t all have orange wing tips! The females have lovely monochrome upper wings, and resemble the other white butterflies at first glance. But the underside of their wings reveals their true identity with a gorgeous mottling of yellow, and black perforation marks around the edge. This female was resting on a butterfly favourite, the nettle.
No.112 - I finally found it! The Green Tiger Beetle (Cicindela campestris). I've been looking for these monkeys for yonks, and was very pleased to be told that there are lots at #RSPBArne. Well, in the five hours I was there, I saw one. One!  It was leaping about like a mad ‘un, and I nearly moved on to find a more relaxed specimen. But I followed it around tentatively for a couple of minutes until it settled down. Close up, these beetles are absolutely stunning, ornate jewels which possess incredible energy as they bounce and leap around sandy paths and heath. Their larvae hide in tiny holes in the ground, ambushing unsuspecting prey. One of my favourite beetles :)
No.112 - I finally found it! The Green Tiger Beetle (Cicindela campestris). I've been looking for these monkeys for yonks, and was very pleased to be told that there are lots at #RSPBArne. Well, in the five hours I was there, I saw one. One!  It was leaping about like a mad ‘un, and I nearly moved on to find a more relaxed specimen. But I followed it around tentatively for a couple of minutes until it settled down. Close up, these beetles are absolutely stunning, ornate jewels which possess incredible energy as they bounce and leap around sandy paths and heath. Their larvae hide in tiny holes in the ground, ambushing unsuspecting prey. One of my favourite beetles :)
No.111 - The Harlequin Ladybird, a pretty little beetle with a dark side. It is an Asian species that came to the UK (accidentally or otherwise) around 15 years ago. It was introduced into Europe and the US as a means of pest control in crops. Unfortunately, the Harlequins are now out-competing our native ladybirds for food, and in some cases eating the insects and larvae themselves. They look similar to our native ladybirds, but Harlequins have the distinctive 'W' shape on the pronotum, and paler legs than the UK species. If you see one, you can report it to the Harlequin Ladybird Survey, or through iRecord.
No.111 - The Harlequin Ladybird, a pretty little beetle with a dark side. It is an Asian species that came to the UK (accidentally or otherwise) around 15 years ago. It was introduced into Europe and the US as a means of pest control in crops. Unfortunately, the Harlequins are now out-competing our native ladybirds for food, and in some cases eating the insects and larvae themselves. They look similar to our native ladybirds, but Harlequins have the distinctive 'W' shape on the pronotum, and paler legs than the UK species. If you see one, you can report it to the Harlequin Ladybird Survey, or through iRecord.
On the road
Dorset was a really exciting prospect. It was early in the season, and a warm front was approaching which would create wildlife explosion. I planned a two day trip to encompass two major reserves, with time to stop off in random places too. I headed out early on the first day to Studland Heath. I didn't know at the time that this would be one of the hottest May bank holiday weekends in history. After the cold, late winter, I was now walking around in radiating heat at 8am, watching the landscape come to life around me. The heath buzzed, clicked, chirped and rustled around me. It was a blissfully similar situation at RSBP Arne the following day; sun, warmth, wildlife everywhere. The Purbeck peninsula is breathtakingly beautiful (let's face it, I saw it at its very best), real food for the soul. Even on a bank holiday I saw hardly any humans when I was out on my walks, yet I was completely surrounded by an amazing diversity of species which entertained and fascinated me. I left with a lot of photographs and  a renewed optimism that finding four hundred more species was entirely possible. 
No.110 - At the top of the cliff at Durlston Country Park in Swanage, there is a huge gathering of Ashy Mining Bees (Andrena cineraria). Although they are called solitary bees, some species do create a network of nest holes in a communal site, called an aggregation. This is where you will often also see the parasitic species such as Beeflies and Cuckoo Bees nosing around as they look to deposit their own eggs in the Mining Bee nest holes. I think this is a definite contender for the #springwatch cute contest, don't you?
No.110 - At the top of the cliff at Durlston Country Park in Swanage, there is a huge gathering of Ashy Mining Bees (Andrena cineraria). Although they are called solitary bees, some species do create a network of nest holes in a communal site, called an aggregation. This is where you will often also see the parasitic species such as Beeflies and Cuckoo Bees nosing around as they look to deposit their own eggs in the Mining Bee nest holes. I think this is a definite contender for the #springwatch cute contest, don't you?
No.109 - I'd heard that Raft spiders are present at #RSPBArne, but I wasn't expecting to see one! I was hanging around the pond, waiting for dragons and damsons to land, when I spotted it in the middle of the water. Luckily, again, I had my 200mm lens on, and was able to get a few shots.  This is the Raft Spider (Dolomedes fimbriatus), one of only two UK species of Raft spider. It hunts by ambush, waiting out of sight with its forelegs resting on the water's surface, sensing vibrations from its prey (usually invertebrates, and sometimes fish). Admittedly, it's not technically my finest photo; it's got a slight shake to it, as the spider was motoring across the water. But what I do love about this photo is the inky blue water, and those astonishing indentations in the surface tension which seem to defy physics.
No.109 - I'd heard that Raft spiders are present at #RSPBArne, but I wasn't expecting to see one! I was hanging around the pond, waiting for dragons and damsons to land, when I spotted it in the middle of the water. Luckily, again, I had my 200mm lens on, and was able to get a few shots.  This is the Raft Spider (Dolomedes fimbriatus), one of only two UK species of Raft spider. It hunts by ambush, waiting out of sight with its forelegs resting on the water's surface, sensing vibrations from its prey (usually invertebrates, and sometimes fish). Admittedly, it's not technically my finest photo; it's got a slight shake to it, as the spider was motoring across the water. But what I do love about this photo is the inky blue water, and those astonishing indentations in the surface tension which seem to defy physics.
No.108 - The sunshine brought out lots of these Hairy shieldbugs on Monday at RSPB Arne. I had been fruitlessly following them around the heathland shrubs, only to go back to the cafe at the end of my visit and find them all chilling out in full view in the garden area! True to their name, these guys have fine hairs all over them. They also have these funky black and white antennae. A very handsome bug.
No.108 - The sunshine brought out lots of these Hairy shieldbugs on Monday at RSPB Arne. I had been fruitlessly following them around the heathland shrubs, only to go back to the cafe at the end of my visit and find them all chilling out in full view in the garden area! True to their name, these guys have fine hairs all over them. They also have these funky black and white antennae. A very handsome bug.
No.107 - The Four-spotted Chaser, one of the earlier dragonflies to emerge. It's easily identified by the yellow veins and spots on the fore and hind wings. This (male?) was basking in the glorious sunshine for some time, so I observed him from a distance. This isn't my usual kind of composition, but I really love the atmosphere in this shot, which sums up the radiant, baking heat of #RSPBArne last Monday.  This may be the one and only time I mention ‘bokeh’ this year 😜
No.107 - The Four-spotted Chaser, one of the earlier dragonflies to emerge. It's easily identified by the yellow veins and spots on the fore and hind wings. This (male?) was basking in the glorious sunshine for some time, so I observed him from a distance. This isn't my usual kind of composition, but I really love the atmosphere in this shot, which sums up the radiant, baking heat of #RSPBArne last Monday.  This may be the one and only time I mention ‘bokeh’ this year 😜
No.106 - The Southern Wood Ant leads us nicely on to this next species. This is the Ant Beetle (Thanasimus formicarius), a mimic of the Wood Ant. Its cunning disguise affords it some protection to live among ant colonies without itself becoming a target. The elytra isn't the closest match, but the head and thorax have amazing similarities.  The Ant Beetle can remain in larval stage for up to two years, and has a healthy appetite for smaller bark beetles.
No.106 - The Southern Wood Ant leads us nicely on to this next species. This is the Ant Beetle (Thanasimus formicarius), a mimic of the Wood Ant. Its cunning disguise affords it some protection to live among ant colonies without itself becoming a target. The elytra isn't the closest match, but the head and thorax have amazing similarities.  The Ant Beetle can remain in larval stage for up to two years, and has a healthy appetite for smaller bark beetles.
No.105 - I have to start my invertebrate story from Dorset with the Southern Wood Ant (Formica rufa). This leviathan of an ant was literally everywhere. More than once I accidentally found myself amid a large colony; I just had to stand still to watch the floor come alive, and I could hear them moving around the forest floor en masse. They were quite passive though, ignoring me to get on with their clearly defined routine. One of our largest ants, many of them were 1cm long, and carrying fairly hefty loads.
No.105 - I have to start my invertebrate story from Dorset with the Southern Wood Ant (Formica rufa). This leviathan of an ant was literally everywhere. More than once I accidentally found myself amid a large colony; I just had to stand still to watch the floor come alive, and I could hear them moving around the forest floor en masse. They were quite passive though, ignoring me to get on with their clearly defined routine. One of our largest ants, many of them were 1cm long, and carrying fairly hefty loads.
No.104 - LIFER!!! I'd like to thank the British weather this Bank Holiday weekend, as I spent an amazing couple of days on the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset. I found some fantastic species which I can't wait to post - but I have to clear this one with you first. It's not an insect, or even an arthropod. It's one of the rarest lizards in the UK, the Sand Lizard.  At the start of this project, I allowed myself a couple of wildcards - species that, although not invertebrate, are so awesome they just have to be included. The Sand Lizard definitely falls into this category, as it is only found in a handful of sites in around the country.  I completely lucked out with this photo (rare for me). I had just swapped to my 200mm lens to get a couple of landscapes of the Studland Heath, when this guy ran right over the top of my foot. I froze, thinking it was an adder, but when I looked down, I found this emerald head with nut brown eyes staring back at me.  Because I'd got my telephoto lens on, I barely had to move to get this shot. If I'd still had the MPE on, it would never have happened. 
No.104 - LIFER!!! I'd like to thank the British weather this Bank Holiday weekend, as I spent an amazing couple of days on the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset. I found some fantastic species which I can't wait to post - but I have to clear this one with you first. It's not an insect, or even an arthropod. It's one of the rarest lizards in the UK, the Sand Lizard.  At the start of this project, I allowed myself a couple of wildcards - species that, although not invertebrate, are so awesome they just have to be included. The Sand Lizard definitely falls into this category, as it is only found in a handful of sites in around the country.  I completely lucked out with this photo (rare for me). I had just swapped to my 200mm lens to get a couple of landscapes of the Studland Heath, when this guy ran right over the top of my foot. I froze, thinking it was an adder, but when I looked down, I found this emerald head with nut brown eyes staring back at me.  Because I'd got my telephoto lens on, I barely had to move to get this shot. If I'd still had the MPE on, it would never have happened. 
No.103 - Rushy Mead was like a sweet shop yesterday. Everywhere I looked, there were jewel-like weevils. This one - Phyllobius pomaceus - was a particularly striking turquoise colour. This species comes in various different shades of green, and they really shimmer in the sunlight. Have you seen any irridescent weevils yet? 
No.103 - Rushy Mead was like a sweet shop yesterday. Everywhere I looked, there were jewel-like weevils. This one - Phyllobius pomaceus - was a particularly striking turquoise colour. This species comes in various different shades of green, and they really shimmer in the sunlight. Have you seen any irridescent weevils yet? 
No.102 - My first butterfly photo of the year! I had to put away the MPE for this because butterflies are literally too big for that lens. And I still can't get that close to them as they are so busy foraging, so I changed up to the telephoto lens and stealthed after them. Peacock butterflies (Aglais io) are one of the main reasons we need to stop cutting down nettles in the spring and summer. Nettles are the primary nursery habitat and food plant for Peacock caterpillars. Females can lay up to 200 eggs in one batch - that's a lot of caterpillars, which in turn become food for hungry chicks such as blue tits, so lots of good reasons to let your nettles grow if you can!
No.102 - My first butterfly photo of the year! I had to put away the MPE for this because butterflies are literally too big for that lens. And I still can't get that close to them as they are so busy foraging, so I changed up to the telephoto lens and stealthed after them. Peacock butterflies (Aglais io) are one of the main reasons we need to stop cutting down nettles in the spring and summer. Nettles are the primary nursery habitat and food plant for Peacock caterpillars. Females can lay up to 200 eggs in one batch - that's a lot of caterpillars, which in turn become food for hungry chicks such as blue tits, so lots of good reasons to let your nettles grow if you can!
No.101 - Look at this beast! The Scorpion Fly (Panorpa sp.), named so for the way it curls up the end of its abdomen like a Scorpion. Despite the fearsome name, they are harmless and don't have a sting. They are scavengers, feeding largely on dead insects, with makes them pretty useful as one of nature's cleaner-uppers.
No.101 - Look at this beast! The Scorpion Fly (Panorpa sp.), named so for the way it curls up the end of its abdomen like a Scorpion. Despite the fearsome name, they are harmless and don't have a sting. They are scavengers, feeding largely on dead insects, with makes them pretty useful as one of nature's cleaner-uppers.
No.100!

So I'm 20% complete! I hope you've enjoyed seeing one hundred of our UK minibeasts. The sun is out for a while now, and so many more incredible invertebrates are emerging, so lets see what I can find for the next 100! 
No.100! - I had a few options for my hundredth post, but this one won because the colour is just something else... It's a Red-headed, or Common Cardinal Beetle (Pyrochroa serraticornis), one of three UK species. I found loads of them hunting for small insects in Rushy Mead nature reserve this morning. 
No.100! - I had a few options for my hundredth post, but this one won because the colour is just something else... It's a Red-headed, or Common Cardinal Beetle (Pyrochroa serraticornis), one of three UK species. I found loads of them hunting for small insects in Rushy Mead nature reserve this morning. 
No.99 - Just when I was starting to get to grips with Mining Bees, out pop the Nomad Bees! I was dreading IDing this, but it turned out to be quite distinctive and I keyed it fairly quickly from Steven Falk's guide and also using his excellent Flickr catalogue. This lovely lady with the incredible chestnut eyes is Nomada lathburiana (Lathbury's Nomad Bee) ; I saw it investigating possible nest sites of Andrena cineraria, the Ashy Mining Bee. Nomad bees are probably mistaken for wasps by many people, as they are relatively hairless compared to most bees, and many of them have the very wasp-like yellow and black abdomens. So next time you think you see a wasp, be brave and look closer, just in case it’s one of these beauties 😊
No.99 - Just when I was starting to get to grips with Mining Bees, out pop the Nomad Bees! I was dreading IDing this, but it turned out to be quite distinctive and I keyed it fairly quickly from Steven Falk's guide and also using his excellent Flickr catalogue. This lovely lady with the incredible chestnut eyes is Nomada lathburiana (Lathbury's Nomad Bee) ; I saw it investigating possible nest sites of Andrena cineraria, the Ashy Mining Bee. Nomad bees are probably mistaken for wasps by many people, as they are relatively hairless compared to most bees, and many of them have the very wasp-like yellow and black abdomens. So next time you think you see a wasp, be brave and look closer, just in case it’s one of these beauties 😊
No.98 - I realised that I haven't posted many spiders recently so here's one I found yesterday at Hatfield Forest. I think it's a Phylloneta sp., from the Theriididae family, or Comb-footed spiders. It has quite a distinctive abdominal pattern. Does this look right, @britishspiders ? What I love about this photo though, is the detail on the underside of this nettle leaf. There are thousands of hairs, and look at those venom filled spines!
No.98 - I realised that I haven't posted many spiders recently so here's one I found yesterday at Hatfield Forest. I think it's a Phylloneta sp., from the Theriididae family, or Comb-footed spiders. It has quite a distinctive abdominal pattern. Does this look right, @britishspiders ? What I love about this photo though, is the detail on the underside of this nettle leaf. There are thousands of hairs, and look at those venom filled spines!
No.97 - Apart from being an essential food source for early insects, the great thing about dandelions, coltsfoot, and other yellow wildflowers is how they really kickstart the spring feeling, even when spring is still fighting to shake winter off! The hoverflies are still very busy and twitchy, but this one was happy to sit for a brief moment. I think its Sphaerophoria scripta, as it is unusual in its abdomen extending beyond its wings (do correct me if I'm wrong!) There are nearly 300 species of Hoverfly in the UK, if I can rack up a few more of them this summer I'll be well on my way to 500!
No.97 - Apart from being an essential food source for early insects, the great thing about dandelions, coltsfoot, and other yellow wildflowers is how they really kickstart the spring feeling, even when spring is still fighting to shake winter off! The hoverflies are still very busy and twitchy, but this one was happy to sit for a brief moment. I think its Sphaerophoria scripta, as it is unusual in its abdomen extending beyond its wings (do correct me if I'm wrong!) There are nearly 300 species of Hoverfly in the UK, if I can rack up a few more of them this summer I'll be well on my way to 500!
No.96 - It took me a while to work out that this is a stonefly, because I found it at least a stone's throw from water. It doesn't have the two tails synonymous with stonefly nymphs, and the wings are flattish, so it's probably Nemoridae (11 species in the UK). The adults live for up to a few days, and generally don't feed, concentrating instead on reproduction. They also have hugely impressive antennae - I counted 38 segments here! Another thing worth noting is the pollen stuck to this stonefly, proving that all insects have the ability to be pollinators. I remember pond-dipping for stonefly nymphs as a kid - so much fun!
No.96 - It took me a while to work out that this is a stonefly, because I found it at least a stone's throw from water. It doesn't have the two tails synonymous with stonefly nymphs, and the wings are flattish, so it's probably Nemoridae (11 species in the UK). The adults live for up to a few days, and generally don't feed, concentrating instead on reproduction. They also have hugely impressive antennae - I counted 38 segments here! Another thing worth noting is the pollen stuck to this stonefly, proving that all insects have the ability to be pollinators. I remember pond-dipping for stonefly nymphs as a kid - so much fun!
No.95 - It may seem strange to say, but I think that earwigs are one of our most photogenic insects. They have a beautiful, soft sheen which looks great in the camera. This Common Earwig (Forficula auricularia) was exploring a sisal rug (which I never realised had so much green fibre in it!) Did anyone else grow up believing that Earwigs crawl into your ear and lay eggs? It took me a while to shake this off, but they absolutely don't, in fact the mothers nest in damp nooks and crannies, and clean their eggs meticulously until they hatch, so I can't see them wanting to use earwax as a nest!
No.95 - It may seem strange to say, but I think that earwigs are one of our most photogenic insects. They have a beautiful, soft sheen which looks great in the camera. This Common Earwig (Forficula auricularia) was exploring a sisal rug (which I never realised had so much green fibre in it!) Did anyone else grow up believing that Earwigs crawl into your ear and lay eggs? It took me a while to shake this off, but they absolutely don't, in fact the mothers nest in damp nooks and crannies, and clean their eggs meticulously until they hatch, so I can't see them wanting to use earwax as a nest!
No.94 - After a very insect-less few days, I finally took my camera out yesterday to find something new, and came across this lovely looking ladybird. I thought it was a Harlequin at first, as I couldn't place it's markings. Once back home, I took to the books and the internet, and worked out that it must be a 10-spot (Adalia decempunctata) - a ladybird which comes in a variety of forms. This one is a 'chequered melanic' form as its main body colour is black. It may also still be developing its colours, as the the sides are very pale.
No.94 - After a very insect-less few days, I finally took my camera out yesterday to find something new, and came across this lovely looking ladybird. I thought it was a Harlequin at first, as I couldn't place it's markings. Once back home, I took to the books and the internet, and worked out that it must be a 10-spot (Adalia decempunctata) - a ladybird which comes in a variety of forms. This one is a 'chequered melanic' form as its main body colour is black. It may also still be developing its colours, as the the sides are very pale.
No.93 - I've had a few Mining Bees in the house, and most of them seem to be this one. I love the fractal effect on the double glazing! It's A.scotica, the Chocolate Mining Bee, one of the more common and widespread miners in our area, and also one of the larger ones. This female is around the size of a honeybee. I have small specimen pots all over the house now, I seem to be rescuing at least two or three a day :)
No.93 - I've had a few Mining Bees in the house, and most of them seem to be this one. I love the fractal effect on the double glazing! It's A.scotica, the Chocolate Mining Bee, one of the more common and widespread miners in our area, and also one of the larger ones. This female is around the size of a honeybee. I have small specimen pots all over the house now, I seem to be rescuing at least two or three a day :)
No.92 - There are times during this project when I just have to accept that I can’t ID an animal. This Chalcid wasp will be one of many. There are over 1700 species of Chalcidoidea in the UK and Ireland, and many of them, like this one, are under 5mm long, some less than 1mm. They are an extraordinary group of insects, about whom the majority of us know very little. I spent ages yesterday, trying to narrow this one down, and I got as far as the Eulophidae (currently the largest family known) family (the antennae have very few segments, and I think the tarsi on my wasp are 4-4-4), which isn’t very far, and I can’t be sure. I did wonder if it could be Tetrastichinae subfamily, but with a few photos and my amateur skills that’s too much of a leap!  But I had to include it in the 500 as Chalcid wasps form a major part of the insect world and contribute massively to the health of our ecosystem by helping to balance the populations of other insects. Many of them are also, like this one, metallic, and zip around our trees and plants like tiny jewels..
No.92 - There are times during this project when I just have to accept that I can’t ID an animal. This Chalcid wasp will be one of many. There are over 1700 species of Chalcidoidea in the UK and Ireland, and many of them, like this one, are under 5mm long, some less than 1mm. They are an extraordinary group of insects, about whom the majority of us know very little. I spent ages yesterday, trying to narrow this one down, and I got as far as the Eulophidae (currently the largest family known) family (the antennae have very few segments, and I think the tarsi on my wasp are 4-4-4), which isn’t very far, and I can’t be sure. I did wonder if it could be Tetrastichinae subfamily, but with a few photos and my amateur skills that’s too much of a leap!  But I had to include it in the 500 as Chalcid wasps form a major part of the insect world and contribute massively to the health of our ecosystem by helping to balance the populations of other insects. Many of them are also, like this one, metallic, and zip around our trees and plants like tiny jewels..
No.91 - This little guy is the Birch Catkin Bug I was meant to post last week, but posted the Lygus photo by mistake! This is also a beautifully patterned bug - and it can emit a mating call through part of its hind wings. 
No.91 - This little guy is the Birch Catkin Bug I was meant to post last week, but posted the Lygus photo by mistake! This is also a beautifully patterned bug - and it can emit a mating call through part of its hind wings. 
I didn't know at the time, but I was going to learn a LOT about wasps this this year, and would gain a new found fascination and respect for them. I was about to meet an entire universe of animals who go about their lives completely unknown and invisible to most humans.
No.90 - Ant season was well underway until this latest cold snap sent them back underground.  I'm glad I had a backlog of photos to post because all I've seen since Friday is a very grumpy bumblebee :( This Red Ant (Myrmica rubra) was enjoying last week's warmer weather at #rspbthelodge. M.rubra is very similar to M.ruginodis, however this ant has a smooth, ridgeless area between its thoracic spines, so I'm going with M.rubra (corrections welcome). The surface texture of these ants is way more complex than I expected. Red ants can't spray formic acid like their Formica relatives, but they can issue a painful sting when threatened. These guys are aphid farmers - they milk aphids for the sweet honeydew they produce. The first time I saw this happening I couldn't work out why the ants weren't predating the aphids! I later read that ants' feet produce chemicals which subdue the aphids and allow the ants to keep them under control... 😯
No.90 - Ant season was well underway until this latest cold snap sent them back underground.  I'm glad I had a backlog of photos to post because all I've seen since Friday is a very grumpy bumblebee :( This Red Ant (Myrmica rubra) was enjoying last week's warmer weather at #rspbthelodge. M.rubra is very similar to M.ruginodis, however this ant has a smooth, ridgeless area between its thoracic spines, so I'm going with M.rubra (corrections welcome). The surface texture of these ants is way more complex than I expected. Red ants can't spray formic acid like their Formica relatives, but they can issue a painful sting when threatened. These guys are aphid farmers - they milk aphids for the sweet honeydew they produce. The first time I saw this happening I couldn't work out why the ants weren't predating the aphids! I later read that ants' feet produce chemicals which subdue the aphids and allow the ants to keep them under control... 😯
No.89 - I always thought that wasps had quite small eyes until I took this photograph of a Common Wasp (Vespula vulgaris). I had no idea that the compound eyes continue up around the top of the head, and that there is a section cut out of them (I think it's called the ocular sinus). If any wasp experts out there can shed light on why the eye is shaped like this, and if the ocular sinus serves a specific function, it would be great to hear from you! 
No.89 - I always thought that wasps had quite small eyes until I took this photograph of a Common Wasp (Vespula vulgaris). I had no idea that the compound eyes continue up around the top of the head, and that there is a section cut out of them (I think it's called the ocular sinus). If any wasp experts out there can shed light on why the eye is shaped like this, and if the ocular sinus serves a specific function, it would be great to hear from you! 
No.88 - After finding a few Click Beetle larvae over the winter, I finally caught up with an adult at #rspbthelodge last week. Click Beetles are awesome. When threatened, they flick themselves with a snapping motion that emits an audible 'click'. I can't get any closer than 3 potential genera; Agriotes, Athous or Adrastus, my main problem being that much of Elateridae identification involves turning the beetle upside-down to inspect the chassis... Any further ID suggestions welcome!
No.88 - After finding a few Click Beetle larvae over the winter, I finally caught up with an adult at #rspbthelodge last week. Click Beetles are awesome. When threatened, they flick themselves with a snapping motion that emits an audible 'click'. I can't get any closer than 3 potential genera; Agriotes, Athous or Adrastus, my main problem being that much of Elateridae identification involves turning the beetle upside-down to inspect the chassis... Any further ID suggestions welcome!
No.87 - I've had a backlog of solitary bees for a couple of weeks now. I had no idea what any of them were. It's fair to say that my learning curve has shot up at a very steep angle since buying my bee field guide. I'm very happy to post this bee as my first correct, independent ID, which means that I must be learning something! It's a male Andrena trimmerana, seen at EWT Fingringhoe Wick. I tentatively sent my prediction to Steven Falk, who confirmed the ID for me. I'm so pleased to be finally getting somewhere in the labyrinth of bee identification!
No.87 - I've had a backlog of solitary bees for a couple of weeks now. I had no idea what any of them were. It's fair to say that my learning curve has shot up at a very steep angle since buying my bee field guide. I'm very happy to post this bee as my first correct, independent ID, which means that I must be learning something! It's a male Andrena trimmerana, seen at EWT Fingringhoe Wick. I tentatively sent my prediction to Steven Falk, who confirmed the ID for me. I'm so pleased to be finally getting somewhere in the labyrinth of bee identification!
No.86 - This is one of my favourite mining bees so far this year. It's one of two species - A.synadelpha or varians - too close to call from a photograph. Thanks to Steven Falk for providing the ID. Whichever one it is, it's a very handsome bee, one of several I found at #rspbthelodge last week. 
No.86 - This is one of my favourite mining bees so far this year. It's one of two species - A.synadelpha or varians - too close to call from a photograph. Thanks to Steven Falk for providing the ID. Whichever one it is, it's a very handsome bee, one of several I found at #rspbthelodge last week. 
No.85 - Ever wondered how much pollen a small bee can carry? Answer: at least this much! I found this Orange-tailed Mining Bee (thanks for confirming, @jayswildlife) in the kitchen yesterday, and when I picked it up on a spoon I saw just how much this girl was packing. It must be the equivalent of going to work in ski boots...
No.85 - Ever wondered how much pollen a small bee can carry? Answer: at least this much! I found this Orange-tailed Mining Bee (thanks for confirming, @jayswildlife) in the kitchen yesterday, and when I picked it up on a spoon I saw just how much this girl was packing. It must be the equivalent of going to work in ski boots...
No.84 - A chunky male hoverfly - probably Syrphus ribesii - sunning himself in a sheltered spot out of the wind yesterday in Hatfield Forest. Apparently, these guys are the source of loud humming that can be heard in woodland, as the males sit and vibrate their wings simultaneously..
No.84 - A chunky male hoverfly - probably Syrphus ribesii - sunning himself in a sheltered spot out of the wind yesterday in Hatfield Forest. Apparently, these guys are the source of loud humming that can be heard in woodland, as the males sit and vibrate their wings simultaneously..
No.83 - I photographed this snail a few weeks back at EWT Rushy Mead, and found it again when looking back through my shots. I believe it’s one of the Oxychilus snails (possibly O.cellarius) - a group of small, flatter snails with waxy or glossy shells and one which smells of garlic.. One of the components which makes a snail shell is chitin, which is a fascinating substance. It is a tough, versatile compound which is present in mollusc shells, insect endoskeletons and the cell walls of some fungi and algae. It's one of the most abundant compounds in the natural world. It's also used by humans, in dissolvable sutures, antibacterial dressings, artificial skin, emulsifiers and fertilisers..
No.83 - I photographed this snail a few weeks back at EWT Rushy Mead, and found it again when looking back through my shots. I believe it’s one of the Oxychilus snails (possibly O.cellarius) - a group of small, flatter snails with waxy or glossy shells and one which smells of garlic.. One of the components which makes a snail shell is chitin, which is a fascinating substance. It is a tough, versatile compound which is present in mollusc shells, insect endoskeletons and the cell walls of some fungi and algae. It's one of the most abundant compounds in the natural world. It's also used by humans, in dissolvable sutures, antibacterial dressings, artificial skin, emulsifiers and fertilisers..
No.82 - I was so frustrated by the lack of cooperation from the solitary bees at Minsmere last week, that I turned my attention to the ants in the car park instead. And I'm glad I did, because this one's a cracker. Lasius fuliginosus - the Jet Ant, or Jet-black Ant - is a large ant with a big heart-shaped head and delicately graduated legs. I love its glossy texture - a very photogenic ant. I read on the BWARS website that they are "a semi-social parasite of a semi-social parasite"; the L.fuliginosus queen infiltrates a nest of L.umbratus, but that nest had originally belonged to another species eg. L.flavus. Whaaaatttt! You can read more about this fascinating and complex ant at www.bwars.com
No.82 - I was so frustrated by the lack of cooperation from the solitary bees at Minsmere last week, that I turned my attention to the ants in the car park instead. And I'm glad I did, because this one's a cracker. Lasius fuliginosus - the Jet Ant, or Jet-black Ant - is a large ant with a big heart-shaped head and delicately graduated legs. I love its glossy texture - a very photogenic ant. I read on the BWARS website that they are "a semi-social parasite of a semi-social parasite"; the L.fuliginosus queen infiltrates a nest of L.umbratus, but that nest had originally belonged to another species eg. L.flavus. Whaaaatttt! You can read more about this fascinating and complex ant at www.bwars.com
No.81 - Peekaboo! This was one of many Lasioglossom malachurum (a species of solitary bee) busily nest-building on the path through the gravel pits in Hatfield Forest last week. This species like to burrow in well-trodden paths, creating extensive nesting networks underground. Many thanks to Steven Falk for IDing.
No.81 - Peekaboo! This was one of many Lasioglossom malachurum (a species of solitary bee) busily nest-building on the path through the gravel pits in Hatfield Forest last week. This species like to burrow in well-trodden paths, creating extensive nesting networks underground. Many thanks to Steven Falk for IDing.
No.80 - The bugs are starting to emerge! I found this (UPDATE - This is NOT a Birch Catkin Bug, it’s a Lygus; I put the wrong picture with this caption - see crazy excuse in comments - many thanks to @penny.metal for flagging up) Lygus sp. in woodland at #RSPBTheLodge. I love bugs - they have such amazing patterns and colours on their wings and bodies. Unlike some other insects such as beetles and flies, bugs develop into adults through incomplete metamorphosis; they don't have a pupal stage. Instead they go through a series of nymph stages, which all look like smaller versions of the adult bug.
No.80 - The bugs are starting to emerge! I found this (UPDATE - This is NOT a Birch Catkin Bug, it’s a Lygus; I put the wrong picture with this caption - see crazy excuse in comments - many thanks to @penny.metal for flagging up) Lygus sp. in woodland at #RSPBTheLodge. I love bugs - they have such amazing patterns and colours on their wings and bodies. Unlike some other insects such as beetles and flies, bugs develop into adults through incomplete metamorphosis; they don't have a pupal stage. Instead they go through a series of nymph stages, which all look like smaller versions of the adult bug.
No.79 - Look at this beast! It was discovered by @blue_admiral, sitting next to the front door. It might not seem big, but this thing dwarfs the teeny Gorse Weevils I've been peering at for the past week. It's about a centimetre long, and here it's grappling with the end of an extra long match. It's from the Entiminae - or Broad-nosed - family of weevils, probably Liophloeus tessulatus (corrections welcome). These weevils have interesting breeding habits. At high altitude, the females are able to reproduce without males...
No.79 - Look at this beast! It was discovered by @blue_admiral, sitting next to the front door. It might not seem big, but this thing dwarfs the teeny Gorse Weevils I've been peering at for the past week. It's about a centimetre long, and here it's grappling with the end of an extra long match. It's from the Entiminae - or Broad-nosed - family of weevils, probably Liophloeus tessulatus (corrections welcome). These weevils have interesting breeding habits. At high altitude, the females are able to reproduce without males...
No.78 - I've been seeing Eristalis out and about for a couple of weeks now, but haven't managed to shoot one as they were very flighty. Some would even hover right in front of my face, openly mocking me... This one, however, had settled down to lay her eggs in the Water mint in our little pond, and once she got going, nothing was going to shift her. I think this could be E.pertinax, looking at the leg markings..?
No.78 - I've been seeing Eristalis out and about for a couple of weeks now, but haven't managed to shoot one as they were very flighty. Some would even hover right in front of my face, openly mocking me... This one, however, had settled down to lay her eggs in the Water mint in our little pond, and once she got going, nothing was going to shift her. I think this could be E.pertinax, looking at the leg markings..?
No.77 - My first sawfly! I thought this was a solitary wasp initially. (Although they have ‘fly’ in their name, they are actually a relative of bees and wasps) I haven't got very close with the ID on this one - I think it's from the Tenthredinidae family, and, having a punt, the Dolerinae subfamily (but that's a massive guess!) Any ideas @jayswildlife ?
No.77 - My first sawfly! I thought this was a solitary wasp initially. (Although they have ‘fly’ in their name, they are actually a relative of bees and wasps) I haven't got very close with the ID on this one - I think it's from the Tenthredinidae family, and, having a punt, the Dolerinae subfamily (but that's a massive guess!) Any ideas @jayswildlife ?
No.76 is this fantastic Striped Millipede (Ommatoiulus sabulosus) which I found under leaf litter whilst chasing spiders at The Lodge yesterday. It's one of our biggest millipedes, growing up to 3cm long. Thanks to Paul at the BMIG for the ID help 👍
No.76 is this fantastic Striped Millipede (Ommatoiulus sabulosus) which I found under leaf litter whilst chasing spiders at The Lodge yesterday. It's one of our biggest millipedes, growing up to 3cm long. Thanks to Paul at the BMIG for the ID help 👍
No.75 - I'm a sucker for bright blue and green beetles, so this one made me very happy. It's Altica sp. (thanks to @dr_rossco_p for confirming) and possibly A. lythri, from looking at the key, and the fact that A. lythri is a common species. It was rooting around in the edge of the reedbed at #RSPBMinsmere last week, probably looking for willowherb to feast upon...
No.75 - I'm a sucker for bright blue and green beetles, so this one made me very happy. It's Altica sp. (thanks to @dr_rossco_p for confirming) and possibly A. lythri, from looking at the key, and the fact that A. lythri is a common species. It was rooting around in the edge of the reedbed at #RSPBMinsmere last week, probably looking for willowherb to feast upon...
No.74 - I found a lot of these beetles in rotting logs at RSPB The Lodge yesterday. This is the splendidly titled Nalassus laevioctostriatus; a member of the Tenebrionidae family (Darkling beetles). It's the first beetle species I've seen congregating in groups, I saw up to ten in one log. I also saw some lovely red teneral specimens. It took me a while to ID it, because it looks like a ground beetle. I literally went through the beetle section in Paul Brock's field guide page by page, until I found it, then cross referenced it with photos online. I've found The Watford Coleoptera Group (www.thewcg.org.uk) really useful for photos and referencing. Many thanks to @danasawusrex for checking my photos last night and confirming species and teneral variation, as I still wasn't 100% sure I'd gone down the right taxonomic avenue with this little enigma!
No.74 - I found a lot of these beetles in rotting logs at RSPB The Lodge yesterday. This is the splendidly titled Nalassus laevioctostriatus; a member of the Tenebrionidae family (Darkling beetles). It's the first beetle species I've seen congregating in groups, I saw up to ten in one log. I also saw some lovely red teneral specimens. It took me a while to ID it, because it looks like a ground beetle. I literally went through the beetle section in Paul Brock's field guide page by page, until I found it, then cross referenced it with photos online. I've found The Watford Coleoptera Group (www.thewcg.org.uk) really useful for photos and referencing. Many thanks to @danasawusrex for checking my photos last night and confirming species and teneral variation, as I still wasn't 100% sure I'd gone down the right taxonomic avenue with this little enigma!
No.73 - It's been hard to keep up with the bumblebees so far this spring. They are so busy foraging and nesting that they rarely slow down for long. I did manage to sneak up on this Common carder bumblebee having a brief break between tasks...
No.73 - It's been hard to keep up with the bumblebees so far this spring. They are so busy foraging and nesting that they rarely slow down for long. I did manage to sneak up on this Common carder bumblebee having a brief break between tasks...
No.72 - I was really pleased to find a Pill Woodlouse (Armadillidium vulgare) at RSPB The Lodge today. It's my first this year after seeing many a Pill Millipede. It has the very familiar face of a woodlouse, but has the added benefit of being double jointed. I also learned that they have a brood pouch where the eggs incubate and hatch, and out of which the fully developed young emerge. This made me imagine tiny armour-plated kangaroos...
No.72 - I was really pleased to find a Pill Woodlouse (Armadillidium vulgare) at RSPB The Lodge today. It's my first this year after seeing many a Pill Millipede. It has the very familiar face of a woodlouse, but has the added benefit of being double jointed. I also learned that they have a brood pouch where the eggs incubate and hatch, and out of which the fully developed young emerge. This made me imagine tiny armour-plated kangaroos...
No.71 - I've photographed quite a few mining bees over the last week or so, but, for a novice bee-watcher like me, identifying them is an absolute minefield. I bought Steven Falk's outstanding Field Guide to Bees of GB & Ireland in the shop at RSPB Minsmere, and I've been poring over it since I got back. So my solitary bee photos may be posted more gradually than others while I try to ensure accurate IDs! This is Andrena sp., and I think it's A.ovatula (Small gorse mining bee) - a beautifully banded bee from EWT Fingringhoe Wick last week. 
No.71 - I've photographed quite a few mining bees over the last week or so, but, for a novice bee-watcher like me, identifying them is an absolute minefield. I bought Steven Falk's outstanding Field Guide to Bees of GB & Ireland in the shop at RSPB Minsmere, and I've been poring over it since I got back. So my solitary bee photos may be posted more gradually than others while I try to ensure accurate IDs! This is Andrena sp., and I think it's A.ovatula (Small gorse mining bee) - a beautifully banded bee from EWT Fingringhoe Wick last week. 
No.70 - I believe this beauty is a Willow Flea Beetle (Crepidodera aurata). I found it in woodland near where I live, sure enough, near Willow trees. It's another fabulous shiny metallic beetle from the Chrysomelidae family of beetles.
No.70 - I believe this beauty is a Willow Flea Beetle (Crepidodera aurata). I found it in woodland near where I live, sure enough, near Willow trees. It's another fabulous shiny metallic beetle from the Chrysomelidae family of beetles.
No.69 - The smallest animal I found at RSPB Minsmere last week was this red spider mite from the Tetranychidae genus, which comprises over a thousand species. At around 2mm, it's a lot harder to spot than its giant Trombidium relative. Tetranychidae are herbivores and feed on plant cells; many, like this one, live in tree bark.
No.69 - The smallest animal I found at RSPB Minsmere last week was this red spider mite from the Tetranychidae genus, which comprises over a thousand species. At around 2mm, it's a lot harder to spot than its giant Trombidium relative. Tetranychidae are herbivores and feed on plant cells; many, like this one, live in tree bark.
No.68 - Another new ladybird with a belter of a binomial name - this time a 24-spot (Subcoccinella vigintiquattuorpunctata). Another herbivore, this one feeds mainly in grasslands. It's amazing how the overall pattern of ladybirds is fairly symmetrical, but when you look closer, there are small variations in the individual markings on each side.
No.68 - Another new ladybird with a belter of a binomial name - this time a 24-spot (Subcoccinella vigintiquattuorpunctata). Another herbivore, this one feeds mainly in grasslands. It's amazing how the overall pattern of ladybirds is fairly symmetrical, but when you look closer, there are small variations in the individual markings on each side.
No.67 - A small but strikingly coloured metallic Ground Beetle from RSPB Minsmere yesterday. It really shone in the sunshine. It's Amara sp.; I've keyed it and my closest match is A.aenea, a common beetle which loves sparcely vegetated, sandy ground. And, pleasingly, it is my first palindromic species :)
No.67 - A small but strikingly coloured metallic Ground Beetle from RSPB Minsmere yesterday. It really shone in the sunshine. It's Amara sp.; I've keyed it and my closest match is A.aenea, a common beetle which loves sparcely vegetated, sandy ground. And, pleasingly, it is my first palindromic species :)
No.66 - I had an amazing day out at RSPB Minsmere yesterday. It was my first visit there (even though I've wanted to go since I was about 9). Lots of beetles, which you will see over the next few days. This one is a Diving Beetle, which I actually found out of the water, at the edge of a reed bed. It's probably one of the Ilybius or Agabus species. They are carnivorous, hunting for tiny insects in and around the water. I'm giving it an 8 on the cute scale.
No.66 - I had an amazing day out at RSPB Minsmere yesterday. It was my first visit there (even though I've wanted to go since I was about 9). Lots of beetles, which you will see over the next few days. This one is a Diving Beetle, which I actually found out of the water, at the edge of a reed bed. It's probably one of the Ilybius or Agabus species. They are carnivorous, hunting for tiny insects in and around the water. I'm giving it an 8 on the cute scale.
No.65 - Woohoo! Found a yellow Ladybird! This is a 22 spot, binomial name Psyllobora vigintiduopunctata (try saying that after two glasses of Pinot Gris). This ladybird is vegan; it feeds on mildew.
No.65 - Woohoo! Found a yellow Ladybird! This is a 22 spot, binomial name Psyllobora vigintiduopunctata (try saying that after two glasses of Pinot Gris). This ladybird is vegan; it feeds on mildew.
No.64 - I apologise in advance, and hope you're not eating right now... The fantastically patterned Anthomyiid fly. Favourite food? Bird poo. Here it is, tucking into some. Bleugh. But it just goes to show that, ultimately, everything on this planet is food to someone...
No.64 - I apologise in advance, and hope you're not eating right now... The fantastically patterned Anthomyiid fly. Favourite food? Bird poo. Here it is, tucking into some. Bleugh. But it just goes to show that, ultimately, everything on this planet is food to someone...
No.63 - Whilst trying to locate a nightingale the other day, I found this gorgeous female Salticus sp. (most probably the common S.scenicus), or Common zebra spider. We often see jumping spiders from the front in photos, because they have those massive two front facing eyes, and in many species the males have spectacular facial and leg colouration to attract a mate. I like the bird's eye view here, showing the the distinctive pattern which gives the spider its name. And just look at that camouflage! 
No.63 - Whilst trying to locate a nightingale the other day, I found this gorgeous female Salticus sp. (most probably the common S.scenicus), or Common zebra spider. We often see jumping spiders from the front in photos, because they have those massive two front facing eyes, and in many species the males have spectacular facial and leg colouration to attract a mate. I like the bird's eye view here, showing the the distinctive pattern which gives the spider its name. And just look at that camouflage! 
No.62 - The Hawthorn leaf beetle (Lochmaea crataegi). True to character, I found this, and a few others enjoying the newly emerging hawthorn shoots. They are part of the large family chrysomelidae - the leaf beetles - which are all starting to chew their way through Spring growth. There are some really beautiful members of this family that I hope to find this year.
No.62 - The Hawthorn leaf beetle (Lochmaea crataegi). True to character, I found this, and a few others enjoying the newly emerging hawthorn shoots. They are part of the large family chrysomelidae - the leaf beetles - which are all starting to chew their way through Spring growth. There are some really beautiful members of this family that I hope to find this year.
No.61 - One thing I'm learning during this project is that for most plants, there's a weevil. There are over 600 species of weevil in the UK, which necessitates a lot of foodplant. These are Gorse weevils (Exapion ulicis). I didn't know they existed until I saw them all over the gorse on the Essex coast today. This is a particularly pleasingly snouty species :)
No.61 - One thing I'm learning during this project is that for most plants, there's a weevil. There are over 600 species of weevil in the UK, which necessitates a lot of foodplant. These are Gorse weevils (Exapion ulicis). I didn't know they existed until I saw them all over the gorse on the Essex coast today. This is a particularly pleasingly snouty species :)
April 2018
The long, hard winter finally conceded to Spring, and the early invertebrates were as last able to begin their spring routines of foraging, nest-building and courtship. 
No.60 - The St. Mark's Fly (Bibio marci); so called because of their propensity to emerge on April 25th (St. Mark's Day), although the hoards at Fingringhoe seemed to be a bit early! This seemingly generic black fly takes on a whole new appearance close up. It has and incredible segmented abdomen, and those hairy eyes! This one is male - the eyes that take up his entire head are a giveaway :) This is the first of several treasures from today's trip to the fabulous @essexwildlifetrust Fingringhoe Wick nature reserve.
No.60 - The St. Mark's Fly (Bibio marci); so called because of their propensity to emerge on April 25th (St. Mark's Day), although the hoards at Fingringhoe seemed to be a bit early! This seemingly generic black fly takes on a whole new appearance close up. It has and incredible segmented abdomen, and those hairy eyes! This one is male - the eyes that take up his entire head are a giveaway :) This is the first of several treasures from today's trip to the fabulous @essexwildlifetrust Fingringhoe Wick nature reserve.
No.59 - A stunning Early Bumblebee (Bombus pratorum) on the end of a spoon - it was a bit jaded so I offered it a pick-me-up. This one is relatively free of mites (I've been seeing some very mite-laden bees this spring).
No.59 - A stunning Early Bumblebee (Bombus pratorum) on the end of a spoon - it was a bit jaded so I offered it a pick-me-up. This one is relatively free of mites (I've been seeing some very mite-laden bees this spring).
No. 58 - Ok Instagram, I need your help with this one. I think it's a Philodromus - a Running crab spider. (Update: confirmed Philodromus sp. - thx to Richard Pierce via Twitter & Jay Lehtinen). It's small - this one is sat on the flower of a Spring Starflower (thanks @jayswildlife) - about 8mm toe to toe. What do you guys think? I'm fine with genus - species requires a microscope! 
No. 58 - Ok Instagram, I need your help with this one. I think it's a Philodromus - a Running crab spider. (Update: confirmed Philodromus sp. - thx to Richard Pierce via Twitter & Jay Lehtinen). It's small - this one is sat on the flower of a Spring Starflower (thanks @jayswildlife) - about 8mm toe to toe. What do you guys think? I'm fine with genus - species requires a microscope! 
No.57 - This is a new one for me: Sehirus luctuosus, the Forget-me-not Shieldbug. It was scuttling around my moth border. From the Cydnidae family (burrowing shield bugs) this is a beautiful shield bug, jet black with brown wings, and smaller than the usual Shieldbugs I see. It’s similar to the Cornish Shieldbug, which I hunted for fruitlessly in Sennen Cove last year. Nevertheless, I was really pleased to find this one, it’s a beauty :)
No.57 - This is a new one for me: Sehirus luctuosus, the Forget-me-not Shieldbug. It was scuttling around my moth border. From the Cydnidae family (burrowing shield bugs) this is a beautiful shield bug, jet black with brown wings, and smaller than the usual Shieldbugs I see. It’s similar to the Cornish Shieldbug, which I hunted for fruitlessly in Sennen Cove last year. Nevertheless, I was really pleased to find this one, it’s a beauty :)
No.56 - Bee-fly! I've been waiting for one of these to sit long enough to get near it with the mammoth manual 65mpe, but no chance, so I caught one with my 100mm macro AF. They look quite similar to the male Hairy-footed Flower Bees, but on closer inspection, they move differently, look rounder and even their buzzing is a different pitch and rhythm. Harmless to us, but they are predators - they flick their eggs into bee and wasp nests; the emerging larvae then feast on the host larvae.
No.56 - Bee-fly! I've been waiting for one of these to sit long enough to get near it with the mammoth manual 65mpe, but no chance, so I caught one with my 100mm macro AF. They look quite similar to the male Hairy-footed Flower Bees, but on closer inspection, they move differently, look rounder and even their buzzing is a different pitch and rhythm. Harmless to us, but they are predators - they flick their eggs into bee and wasp nests; the emerging larvae then feast on the host larvae.
No.55 - Hello snouty! This tiny Cionus weevil (probably the Figwort) has a hugely impressive rostrum, which is used to protect the antennae when rooting around in wood. These weevils like to eat figwort, but can also be found on buddleia; though I found this one on wild speedwell in my garden. Weevil obsession continues...
No.55 - Hello snouty! This tiny Cionus weevil (probably the Figwort) has a hugely impressive rostrum, which is used to protect the antennae when rooting around in wood. These weevils like to eat figwort, but can also be found on buddleia; though I found this one on wild speedwell in my garden. Weevil obsession continues...
No.54 - The garden properly exploded yesterday - there was stuff everywhere! I played lifeguard again, this time scooping this beautiful Harpalus sp. (Probably H.affinis) out of our little pond. It was thoroughly saturated, but I'm pleased to report that it dried out and went on its way...
No.54 - The garden properly exploded yesterday - there was stuff everywhere! I played lifeguard again, this time scooping this beautiful Harpalus sp. (Probably H.affinis) out of our little pond. It was thoroughly saturated, but I'm pleased to report that it dried out and went on its way...
No.53 - I'm getting quite good at finding large, black Carabids now. You may well be thinking that I'm posting the same beetle every time, but it’s far too early in this project to start cheating; this is a new one, I promise! 😁My rookie key work tells me it is Nebria sp., and if this is right, it's most likely N.brevicollis, as it is a very common beetle. I recently found some fantastic illustrated guides by John Walters and Mark Telfer, which have really helped me learn the subtle differences between the members of this large family of beetles. You can find them at www.johnwalters.co.uk
No.53 - I'm getting quite good at finding large, black Carabids now. You may well be thinking that I'm posting the same beetle every time, but it’s far too early in this project to start cheating; this is a new one, I promise! 😁My rookie key work tells me it is Nebria sp., and if this is right, it's most likely N.brevicollis, as it is a very common beetle. I recently found some fantastic illustrated guides by John Walters and Mark Telfer, which have really helped me learn the subtle differences between the members of this large family of beetles. You can find them at www.johnwalters.co.uk
No.52 - This Pill Millipede looked so snug and cosy in the Sphagnum moss. It had the right idea too, it was 9°c in the forest yesterday!! When I first posted a Pill Millipede (Glomeris marginata) last year I called it a Pill Woodlouse by mistake, but now I know the difference. Pill Millipedes have the smoother deep brown/black segments with cream margins, are more uniform through the segments, and appear to seal up into a more seamless ball with that 'U' shaped panel. There is also a difference in leg quantity, but have you ever tried unrolling a Pill Millipede?... 😁
No.52 - This Pill Millipede looked so snug and cosy in the Sphagnum moss. It had the right idea too, it was 9°c in the forest yesterday!! When I first posted a Pill Millipede (Glomeris marginata) last year I called it a Pill Woodlouse by mistake, but now I know the difference. Pill Millipedes have the smoother deep brown/black segments with cream margins, are more uniform through the segments, and appear to seal up into a more seamless ball with that 'U' shaped panel. There is also a difference in leg quantity, but have you ever tried unrolling a Pill Millipede?... 😁
No.51 - I went to a wedding in Norfolk on Wednesday. I promised myself I wouldn't take my camera, but in the boot it went anyway... I just can't risk missing something good... So when this Death-watch Beetle walked blithely across my napkin just before the speeches, I had to sneak out to the car, carrying it on said napkin, shoot it and leg it back so as not to appear as though I was prioritising a beetle over the best-man's speech... Death-watch Beetles are yet another pariah of the insect world. Humans have historically associated the sound of them banging their heads against wood with the death-knell (although this may actually be attributable to book lice which also live in wood) and they are held responsible for damage to building timbers (despite them being quite picky and preferring oak with moisture content and fungal growth). Maybe we should learn to live alongside them and not demonise them as our ancestors did...
No.51 - I went to a wedding in Norfolk on Wednesday. I promised myself I wouldn't take my camera, but in the boot it went anyway... I just can't risk missing something good... So when this Death-watch Beetle walked blithely across my napkin just before the speeches, I had to sneak out to the car, carrying it on said napkin, shoot it and leg it back so as not to appear as though I was prioritising a beetle over the best-man's speech... Death-watch Beetles are yet another pariah of the insect world. Humans have historically associated the sound of them banging their heads against wood with the death-knell (although this may actually be attributable to book lice which also live in wood) and they are held responsible for damage to building timbers (despite them being quite picky and preferring oak with moisture content and fungal growth). Maybe we should learn to live alongside them and not demonise them as our ancestors did...
So I've made it to the minor milestone of 50 species out of 500 for the year. Have I set myself an impossible target? Or can I actually do this?...
50 not out! And it's a belter: Abax parallelapipedus - a common but impressive black Carabid. I'm so used to turning over wood and finding tiny things that I shouted out loud in surprise when I found not one, but two of these beasts. At nearly an inch long, it almost didn't fit in the frame of my MPE lens! Also, I think this could be a pregnant female, judging by the pale swelling under the elytra..
50 not out! And it's a belter: Abax parallelapipedus - a common but impressive black Carabid. I'm so used to turning over wood and finding tiny things that I shouted out loud in surprise when I found not one, but two of these beasts. At nearly an inch long, it almost didn't fit in the frame of my MPE lens! Also, I think this could be a pregnant female, judging by the pale swelling under the elytra..
No.49 - I think I've peaked with the Rove Beetles. Seriously, can any other exoskeleton really beat this for understated beauty? Philonthus sp. (decorus?). I was looking for signs of Odonata emergence when I saw this unlucky guy hit the water. I fished him out and watched him meticulously dry his wings off - a truly stunning process to watch.
No.49 - I think I've peaked with the Rove Beetles. Seriously, can any other exoskeleton really beat this for understated beauty? Philonthus sp. (decorus?). I was looking for signs of Odonata emergence when I saw this unlucky guy hit the water. I fished him out and watched him meticulously dry his wings off - a truly stunning process to watch.
No.48 - I found loads of these Nurseryweb spiders sprinting around the jetties in a local country park in the sunshine. They can really move, this one stayed still just long enough for me to hang over the edge of the pontoon, but only gave me a rear end view. I love the distinctive line down the carapace.
No.48 - I found loads of these Nurseryweb spiders sprinting around the jetties in a local country park in the sunshine. They can really move, this one stayed still just long enough for me to hang over the edge of the pontoon, but only gave me a rear end view. I love the distinctive line down the carapace.
No.47 - OK, so not all of my subjects are outgoing. This Rove Beetle seemed rather camera shy. But I love the detail on its body, particularly the finely punctured, reddish brown elytra. I've fairly confidently ID'd it to genus - Othius sp., and species possibly O.punctulatus.
No.47 - OK, so not all of my subjects are outgoing. This Rove Beetle seemed rather camera shy. But I love the detail on its body, particularly the finely punctured, reddish brown elytra. I've fairly confidently ID'd it to genus - Othius sp., and species possibly O.punctulatus.
No.46 - Is this the spider equivalent of red-eye? Tegenaria sp., this one was small, less than 1cm from pedipalp to spinneret. I fully expect it to sprint out from under our sofa in the autumn, three times bigger, and scare the life out of us 😂!
No.46 - Is this the spider equivalent of red-eye? Tegenaria sp., this one was small, less than 1cm from pedipalp to spinneret. I fully expect it to sprint out from under our sofa in the autumn, three times bigger, and scare the life out of us 😂!
No.45 - The leafhoppers are out and about again! This one - Eupteryx decemnotata - is a particularly pretty one, dressed up as a leopard :)
No.45 - The leafhoppers are out and about again! This one - Eupteryx decemnotata - is a particularly pretty one, dressed up as a leopard :)
No.44 - I found a few of these aphid on tulip leaves in the garden. To me it looks like a young Rhopalosiphum (size of antennae/siphunculus/cauda) but it’s hard to tell. Like weevils, aphids can cause considerable damage to plants. Rather than intervene, I’m hoping that my resident predators such as ladybirds, Dunnock and Wren will come and help themselves :)
No.44 - I found a few of these aphid on tulip leaves in the garden. To me it looks like a young Rhopalosiphum (size of antennae/siphunculus/cauda) but it’s hard to tell. Like weevils, aphids can cause considerable damage to plants. Rather than intervene, I’m hoping that my resident predators such as ladybirds, Dunnock and Wren will come and help themselves :)
No.43 - This beauty is a Saucer Bug, another treat from our pond dipping foray at Rye Meads. This is our native species, Ilyocoris cimicoides (the other is a Channel hopping newcomer). They are a rounder version of a Water Boatman, are fast swimmers and predate water fleas and larvae in muddy ponds. 
No.43 - This beauty is a Saucer Bug, another treat from our pond dipping foray at Rye Meads. This is our native species, Ilyocoris cimicoides (the other is a Channel hopping newcomer). They are a rounder version of a Water Boatman, are fast swimmers and predate water fleas and larvae in muddy ponds. 
No.42 - A plume moth, most likely the Common Plume, given its early appearance in the year. These moths have such an unusual wing shape - they look like tiny gliders! This is my first moth of 2018 :)
No.42 - A plume moth, most likely the Common Plume, given its early appearance in the year. These moths have such an unusual wing shape - they look like tiny gliders! This is my first moth of 2018 :)
No.41 - Sitona lineatus, the uncharacteristically unsnouty weevil commonly found in our gardens. Weevils aren't a favourite of gardeners as they are enthusiastic herbivores, but I like having them around.
No.41 - Sitona lineatus, the uncharacteristically unsnouty weevil commonly found in our gardens. Weevils aren't a favourite of gardeners as they are enthusiastic herbivores, but I like having them around.
A Learning Curve
I may be an experienced photographer, but I am a novice entomologist. I was looking forward to learning about invertebrates this year, but I completely underestimated the process of identification and taxonomy. I had unwittingly set myself two challenges; the first to get decent photographs of five hundred UK species and second, to establish that they would all be different using observation and research. I had no field guides, no idea what a key was and no understanding of entomological terminology. How hard could it possibly be?...
No.40 - This Harvestman is from the Arachnid family; there are over thirty species in the UK, and hard as I tried to ID it, I just couldn't get a conclusive answer. I wondered if it was Platybunus triangularis or Oligolophus tridens but I'm really not sure. So, until I get any further, it remains as a Harvestman :)
No.40 - This Harvestman is from the Arachnid family; there are over thirty species in the UK, and hard as I tried to ID it, I just couldn't get a conclusive answer. I wondered if it was Platybunus triangularis or Oligolophus tridens but I'm really not sure. So, until I get any further, it remains as a Harvestman :)
No.39 - It's not a Seven-spot! This one is a Cream-spot (Calvia quattourdecimguttata) and it was blissfully unaware of how excited I was to find a different ladybird :) 
No.39 - It's not a Seven-spot! This one is a Cream-spot (Calvia quattourdecimguttata) and it was blissfully unaware of how excited I was to find a different ladybird :) 
No.38 - This is going to be one of my weirdest species this year. The extraordinary Water Scorpion (Nepa cinerea) giving me the beady eye during a pond dipping session yesterday at RSPB Rye Meads. It breathes through its back end by sticking its bum out of the water. It’s also amphibious, choosing to live mainly on the water’s edge. There are only two UK species of the Nepa genus. The other one looks nothing like this - it’s a Water Stick Insect. Truly one of evolution's more bizarre adaptations...
No.38 - This is going to be one of my weirdest species this year. The extraordinary Water Scorpion (Nepa cinerea) giving me the beady eye during a pond dipping session yesterday at RSPB Rye Meads. It breathes through its back end by sticking its bum out of the water. It’s also amphibious, choosing to live mainly on the water’s edge. There are only two UK species of the Nepa genus. The other one looks nothing like this - it’s a Water Stick Insect. Truly one of evolution's more bizarre adaptations...
No.37 - A sure sign of Spring after what feels like the longest winter ever, Anthophora plumipes - the Hairy-footed Flower Bee. I found a male and female together in a hide at RSPB Rye Meads nature reserve today. They were looking pretty hot and bothered, but I think this may have had more to do with them being trapped behind hot glass 🤭. I moved them outside and got a few photos before they recovered and flew off. This is the gingery male with the gorgeous hairy legs and blown-glass eyes...
No.37 - A sure sign of Spring after what feels like the longest winter ever, Anthophora plumipes - the Hairy-footed Flower Bee. I found a male and female together in a hide at RSPB Rye Meads nature reserve today. They were looking pretty hot and bothered, but I think this may have had more to do with them being trapped behind hot glass 🤭. I moved them outside and got a few photos before they recovered and flew off. This is the gingery male with the gorgeous hairy legs and blown-glass eyes...
No.36 - I had my butterfly lens and flash on when I found this Ichneumon Wasp, so the lighting is dreadful, but this wasp is too beautiful to leave out for aesthetic reasons! Just look at those exquisite antennae! This is possibly Ichneumon stramentor or extensorius (from the antennae bands, abdominal colour, hind tibia stripe and spot on the end tergite). These wasps are parasitic; their hosts are mainly moth pupae.
No.36 - I had my butterfly lens and flash on when I found this Ichneumon Wasp, so the lighting is dreadful, but this wasp is too beautiful to leave out for aesthetic reasons! Just look at those exquisite antennae! This is possibly Ichneumon stramentor or extensorius (from the antennae bands, abdominal colour, hind tibia stripe and spot on the end tergite). These wasps are parasitic; their hosts are mainly moth pupae.
No.35 - This was a particularly busy rotting log. Hard to miss the mahoosive Velvet Mite (Trombidium sp.) in the most spectacular shade of red. Also found loads of tiny glass snails and the extraordinary fungi (corr. Slime mould) in the background, which I though were eggs at first...
No.35 - This was a particularly busy rotting log. Hard to miss the mahoosive Velvet Mite (Trombidium sp.) in the most spectacular shade of red. Also found loads of tiny glass snails and the extraordinary fungi (corr. Slime mould) in the background, which I though were eggs at first...
No.34 - Saw my first Mining Bee yesterday! This lovely lady is Andrena clarkella - she was exploring the humps and bumps of an Iron Age settlement.
No.34 - Saw my first Mining Bee yesterday! This lovely lady is Andrena clarkella - she was exploring the humps and bumps of an Iron Age settlement.
No.33 - Given the biblical end to March, I can still mainly be found foraging for species on the forest floor. This one gave me a headache to ID, not least because it seems to have a non-standard quantity of legs. It's a Lithobius sp., a type of Stone Centipede which lives in moist habitats. It's got twenty antennal segments, which points to it being L. crassipes. 
No.33 - Given the biblical end to March, I can still mainly be found foraging for species on the forest floor. This one gave me a headache to ID, not least because it seems to have a non-standard quantity of legs. It's a Lithobius sp., a type of Stone Centipede which lives in moist habitats. It's got twenty antennal segments, which points to it being L. crassipes. 
No.32 - I turned over a lump of deadwood and found this mighty Black Clock staring back at me; one of the biggest I've seen.
No.32 - I turned over a lump of deadwood and found this mighty Black Clock staring back at me; one of the biggest I've seen.
No.31 - It's great to finally see all these snail shells come to life! This is a Slippery Moss Snail, also known as a Glassy pillar snail.
No.31 - It's great to finally see all these snail shells come to life! This is a Slippery Moss Snail, also known as a Glassy pillar snail.
Spring is finally here! The days are getting longer and the air feels just that bit warmer, as winter sheds its thick coat and raises its face to the strengthening sun.
No.30 - Another ground Beetle - and the first one that I've attempted to key out myself. It's a Leistus, and I think it's L. fulvibarbis. I'm confident that Instagram will put me right if I've misfired :) This Carabid is fascinating as it is one of a number of beetles which have a specially adapted basket around their mouthparts for trapping Springtails. If you look closely, you can just see a Globby dicing with death right next to it!
No.30 - Another ground Beetle - and the first one that I've attempted to key out myself. It's a Leistus, and I think it's L. fulvibarbis. I'm confident that Instagram will put me right if I've misfired :) This Carabid is fascinating as it is one of a number of beetles which have a specially adapted basket around their mouthparts for trapping Springtails. If you look closely, you can just see a Globby dicing with death right next to it!
Hello? Is anyone home?  Mites are pretty tough for non-specialists to ID, but it’s a new one for me this year so it becomes No.29 in my #500species2018, while I go back to my books to work it out... 
Hello? Is anyone home?  Mites are pretty tough for non-specialists to ID, but it’s a new one for me this year so it becomes No.29 in my #500species2018, while I go back to my books to work it out... 
No.28 - I found treasure! This Notiophilus sp. is an outstanding shiny bronze ground beetle. I ignored it at first because it’s so tiny and I didn’t see the metallic sheen. Fired two shots on it, checked my exposure and when I looked back it was gone. New favourite for 2018. Awesome awesome awesome.
No.28 - I found treasure! This Notiophilus sp. is an outstanding shiny bronze ground beetle. I ignored it at first because it’s so tiny and I didn’t see the metallic sheen. Fired two shots on it, checked my exposure and when I looked back it was gone. New favourite for 2018. Awesome awesome awesome.
No.27 - To me this is the quintessential Millipede. There are many species of Millipede in the UK, but this shiny, dark coil is what I always think of...
No.27 - To me this is the quintessential Millipede. There are many species of Millipede in the UK, but this shiny, dark coil is what I always think of...
No.26 - This awesome beetle looks like a cross between a water beetle and a ladybird. It's actually a Rove Beetle; Scaphidium quadrimaculatum, (also known as the Shiny fungus Beetle) which lives in woodland in fungi and under the bark of fallen tree wood. It's also quite unusually shaped for a rovey, more like a cross between a dung beetle and a diving beetle. One of my favourites so far this year!
No.26 - This awesome beetle looks like a cross between a water beetle and a ladybird. It's actually a Rove Beetle; Scaphidium quadrimaculatum, (also known as the Shiny fungus Beetle) which lives in woodland in fungi and under the bark of fallen tree wood. It's also quite unusually shaped for a rovey, more like a cross between a dung beetle and a diving beetle. One of my favourites so far this year!
No.25 - An early cranefly getting flight-ready this morning.
No.25 - An early cranefly getting flight-ready this morning.
No.24 - A wolf spider (Pardosa sp.) sunbathing in the all-too-scarce sunshine. Come back Spring! 
No.24 - A wolf spider (Pardosa sp.) sunbathing in the all-too-scarce sunshine. Come back Spring! 
No.23 - My first non-ladybird-beetle of 2018, a small Rove Beetle. It's from the genus Stenus - possibly S.bimaculatus. It lives in damp habitats - I found this one in dead wood in woodland near the river - where it hunts for springtails and other tiny beasts.
No.23 - My first non-ladybird-beetle of 2018, a small Rove Beetle. It's from the genus Stenus - possibly S.bimaculatus. It lives in damp habitats - I found this one in dead wood in woodland near the river - where it hunts for springtails and other tiny beasts.
No.22 - Cylindroiulus punctatus is a pale pinkish brown millipede which lives in deadwood. They can live for quite a long time - the female starts to lay eggs in her third year.
No.22 - Cylindroiulus punctatus is a pale pinkish brown millipede which lives in deadwood. They can live for quite a long time - the female starts to lay eggs in her third year.
No.21 - A tiny snail that climbs trees to eat lichen. I was really impressed by this Two-toothed door snail, as it had scaled the equivalent of the Shard in human terms...
No.21 - A tiny snail that climbs trees to eat lichen. I was really impressed by this Two-toothed door snail, as it had scaled the equivalent of the Shard in human terms...
March 2018
This winter was cold. And it felt long. Plenty of snowfall and sub-zero temperatures meant that bug-hunting trips were short and I often came home with just one or two new species, sometimes none at all. But the important thing was just being out there, enjoying the sights, smells and sounds of a forest in hibernation. 
March was a particularly torrid month for wildlife. Just as the first insects were starting to emerge and birds began to prepare for the breeding season, the Beast from the East swept in, plunging us all into a deep freeze. I took the photograph of No.19, the Buff-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) a couple of days before the winter storm set in. I wondered if they could sense it coming, and how it would affect them. They had survived the whole winter, and now their spring was about to be cruelly punctuated by a late icy blast. 

Freezing toes and red nose...
Another trip to Hatfield Forest in the snow.
No.20 - The Honeybees were up and about in Rushy Mead this morning - soaking up the Blackthorn nectar.
No.20 - The Honeybees were up and about in Rushy Mead this morning - soaking up the Blackthorn nectar.
No.19 - Look who's back! I was so happy to see this Buff-tailed bumblebee, but also concerned for her, with the looming threat of Winter 2.0 tomorrow. Hope she finds a warm nook to hide in tonight...
No.19 - Look who's back! I was so happy to see this Buff-tailed bumblebee, but also concerned for her, with the looming threat of Winter 2.0 tomorrow. Hope she finds a warm nook to hide in tonight...
No.18 The fungus gnats are starting to appear, and if it's fungus they're after they'll find plenty here...
No.18 The fungus gnats are starting to appear, and if it's fungus they're after they'll find plenty here...
No.17 - This Xysticus sp.  Crab spider was one of several beasts enjoying the sunshine in Hatfield Forest this morning.
No.17 - This Xysticus sp.  Crab spider was one of several beasts enjoying the sunshine in Hatfield Forest this morning.
No.16 - A tiny spider soaking up the sun. I think it's a money spider (Linyphiidae) and more specifically Erigone dentipalpis (it has quite a set of pedipalps on it). 
No.16 - A tiny spider soaking up the sun. I think it's a money spider (Linyphiidae) and more specifically Erigone dentipalpis (it has quite a set of pedipalps on it). 
No.15 - Another species of Woodlouse from my garden - this time a Common shiny (Oniscus asellus)
No.15 - Another species of Woodlouse from my garden - this time a Common shiny (Oniscus asellus)
No.14 - Flat-Backed Millipede (Polydesmus sp.)
No.14 - Flat-Backed Millipede (Polydesmus sp.)
No.13 - An early spring sighting of Pine Ladybird - Exochomus quadripustulatus. 
No.13 - An early spring sighting of Pine Ladybird - Exochomus quadripustulatus. 
No.12 - Spider mite (Bryobia sp.) This is one of the smallest finds this year, at around 1mm long.
No.12 - Spider mite (Bryobia sp.) This is one of the smallest finds this year, at around 1mm long.
No.11 - Daddy Long-legs Spider (Pholcus phalangoides)
No.11 - Daddy Long-legs Spider (Pholcus phalangoides)
February 2018
Starting a project about insects in mid-winter was neither an easy task, nor an encouraging one. Invertebrates are very hard to find in cold weather. There is, of course, life out there if you look for it, and that for me involved a lot of time on the forest floor, peering into nooks and under logs. I was surprised by the amount of beetles that remain active during the cold winter months, particularly the Carabids (ground beetles). Some invertebrates, on the other hand, had no intention of coming out of their cosy slumber, such as No.14, the Flat-Backed Millipede (Polydesmus sp.)
No.10 - I don't have a species ID for this, but I'm assuming it's one of our 'friendly' houseflies. I found it sucking away happily on the dishcloth in my kitchen (ugh). It casually ignored me - all the usual Jedi-type reactions absent in its semi-hibernating state. Bring on Spring - I miss hoverflies...
No.10 - I don't have a species ID for this, but I'm assuming it's one of our 'friendly' houseflies. I found it sucking away happily on the dishcloth in my kitchen (ugh). It casually ignored me - all the usual Jedi-type reactions absent in its semi-hibernating state. Bring on Spring - I miss hoverflies...
No.9 - Nesticus cellulanus, a Comb-footed cellar spider, sheltering in leaf litter behind my wormery. Looks a bit like Steatoda sp., but smaller and leggier…
No.9 - Nesticus cellulanus, a Comb-footed cellar spider, sheltering in leaf litter behind my wormery. Looks a bit like Steatoda sp., but smaller and leggier…
No. 8 - Missing-sector orb-web spider, cuddled up in the window-frame. One of two Zygiella species in the UK, this is probably Z. x-notata (typical window-frame and building dwellers) This female is guarding her egg sacs - you can just see her giving me the beady eye between those long legs...
No. 8 - Missing-sector orb-web spider, cuddled up in the window-frame. One of two Zygiella species in the UK, this is probably Z. x-notata (typical window-frame and building dwellers) This female is guarding her egg sacs - you can just see her giving me the beady eye between those long legs...
No.7 - I found a quantity of this Springtail in the rotting log pile habitat; tiny (less than 5mm) yet a giant amongst its kind. 
No.7 - I found a quantity of this Springtail in the rotting log pile habitat; tiny (less than 5mm) yet a giant amongst its kind. 
No.6 - I found a busy woodlouse nursery in the log pile in our garden.
No.6 - I found a busy woodlouse nursery in the log pile in our garden.
No.5 - Try telling me this face isn't totally adorable. Another insect disturbed from slumber in the house. I believe that it's Amblytelessp., possibly Armatorius, but there are over 2000 species of Ichneumon wasp in the UK and Ireland, so I'll hold off a definite ID...
No.5 - Try telling me this face isn't totally adorable. Another insect disturbed from slumber in the house. I believe that it's Amblytelessp., possibly Armatorius, but there are over 2000 species of Ichneumon wasp in the UK and Ireland, so I'll hold off a definite ID...
No.4 - Philoscia muscorum (Common Striped Woodlouse)
No.4 - Philoscia muscorum (Common Striped Woodlouse)
No.3 - Himacerus mirmicoides (Ant Damsel Bug)
No.3 - Himacerus mirmicoides (Ant Damsel Bug)
No.2 - Aphid with babies
No.2 - Aphid with babies
No.1 - This very dusty ladybird appeared from under the sofa the other day. I don't think it was particularly happy about being woken up in early January!  Coccinella septempunctata (7-spot Ladybird)
No.1 - This very dusty ladybird appeared from under the sofa the other day. I don't think it was particularly happy about being woken up in early January!  Coccinella septempunctata (7-spot Ladybird)
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