Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Gone all nocturnal!

The idea was primarily, an after dark hunt for the wingless female moth species by torchlight but turned into the ol' Keith-getting-distracted-by-every-single-invertebrate routine.
I've been over Litcham Common (a good 5min walk from my front door) for a nocturnal invert hunt on various days this month and have been amazed at the shear amount of different creatures that occupy the woods after dark. With so many different species on so many trees, it really must be a close-quarter battle of life and death every single night, with various different species going about their lives a matter of inches away from their predators!

After a lengthy search a couple of weeks ago, Dad (who's Twitter you can find HERE) and I did find our target, by way of a Mottled Umber, about waist height on a medium sized Birch tree. Result!

Mottled UmberErannis defoliaria

Mottled Umber - Erannis defoliaria

On the Moth front, we also found 52 Male Winter Moths, 3 Chestnuts, 2 Male Mottled Umbers and a pleasant surprise - Acleris logiana with its camouflage just made for Birch trees:

Acleris logiana

There were also two plump, Noctuid larvae low down on the trunks which looked like that of Angle Shades, and a clutch of Vapourer moth eggs in a small depression on one of the trees:

Vapourer Moth eggs

We found two seperate pupal cases of the Black Arches moth, both tucked in under bark and held in place with a little silk.

Black Arches pupal case

There were a number of Ladybirds taking cover from the Winter in the nooks and crannies, they were 7-spot and Orange:

7-spot ladybird

Orange ladybird

I got a bit excited when I thought we'd found a couple of the inconspicuous Ladybird species but it wasn't to be. They were in fact, the diminutive beetle, Olibrus corticali:

Olibrus corticali

Olibrus corticali

Olibrus corticali

In very good number were Dromius quadrimaculatus. We stopped counting at about 20 of those!

Dromius quadrimaculatus

A little highlight for me was two of a nice Longhorn beetle with a bit of a mouthful of a name: the Greater Thorn-tipped Longhorn Beetle - Pogonocherus hispidulus. A highlight because it was only last year that I saw the Lesser Thorn-tipped, so it was nice to be able to log the pair.

Greater Thorn-tipped Longhorn Beetle - Pogonocherus hispidulus

Greater Thorn-tipped Longhorn Beetle - Pogonocherus hispidulus

We found two Shieldbug species: Birch Shieldbug and the Common Green Shieldbug, which is actually completely brown during Winter.

HUGE numbers of Woodlice which admittedly I didn't look any further as to which species, and Common Earwigs.

Common Earwig - Forficula auricularia

Common Earwig - Forficula auricularia

Darkness falling is the cue for a lot of Spiders to emerge from their daytime hidings and get busy repairing webs and looking for food. I could do really, with going on another nocturnal outing to concentrate just on the Spiders, for there were quite a lot to be seen. Various Opiliones (Harvestmen) which are a bit of an ID challenge and not something I can manage in 5mins! One Spider which stuck out though was a first for me: Drapetisca socialis AKA the Invisible Spider (seriously).

Invisible Spider - Drapetisca socialis

That's it in a nutshell and if you've not ventured out to look for inverts after dark, I'd recommend it and will be doing it more often myself now!

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