Sunday, 16 May 2021

Leistus oopterus in south Wales

The carabid Leistus oopterus was added to the British list back in 2015, caught in a pitfall trap by a Jim Fairclough near Hirwaun (paper here). This new addition has taken the total of Leistus species too be found in south Wales to six.

Links to the other species here.

Leistus ferrugineous

Leistus terminatus

Lesitus rufomarinatus

Leistus fulvibarbis 

Leistus spinibarbis

Leistus montanus. Not yet found in south Wales, known from north Wales.

I've visited Hirwaun common twice now in search for this species, both in order to get familiar with its habitat requirements, ease of finding etc. I've managed to connect with it on both occasions, finding 4 individuals so far, one being teneral, so it looks like its an established breeding population.

The small projecting tooth on the "shoulder" area of the elytra can just be made out in this image. 

 

I collected the one in pic for the Darwin Tree of Life genome project, perhaps it can help with future debates on whether this species is native or not. Over the next couple of years i'm going to expand the search for this species in similar habitats (Purple moor-grass and rush pasture(?)), hopefully its not just restricted to this site.

 

 

I'd very much welcome any info, sightings etc for this species, so please get in touch. I'm aiming to map its distribution here in Wales, along with several other species that are said to have been introduced from the same region as this beetle.

EDIT: I found a second site for these in a conifer strewn disused quarry near Pontypool. 18/06/21 

Two more specimens found while sieving damp Juncus litter just inside a conifer plantation the other side of this quarry site. 03/09/21


Found at the base of that large rock resting on a branch 18/06/21

                                   

One of the two Leistus oopterus sieved from damp Juncus litter 03/09/21

 

The plantation where they were found 03/09/21


Happy hunting!!

 


Tuesday, 12 January 2021

South Wales Bristletails - Order Microcoryphia

Some pointers if your looking to get Bristletails - Order Microcoryphia identified from photos.

We currently have six species in south Wales...Dilta chateri, D. hibernica, D. littoralis, Petrobius maritimus, P. brevistylis and Trigoniophthalmus alternatus. 
 
Note: Dilta saxicola could also turn up here? For now at least, it seems to be restricted to Ireland (?)... Delaney (1954) has it as 'Howth Head, Dublin'. I've no idea what this species looks like and can't seem to find much info on it in general. Would appreciate any photos, info etc.
 
Two important positions to capture when taking photos...
 
1. A top down pic (or close enough) of whole animal; body pattern is important for separating some species - especially Dilta. Trigoniophthalmus alternatus will also have a notable body pattern, useful if unable to get a look at ocelli position. Petrobius not so much, as both can be very similar looking - head on shot important for these.
 
2. A close as possible photo of face; position of ocelli below compound eyes - important for separating to Genus (until experience is gained). Also, a good view of 'shading' on the face of Petrobius will be key in splitting the two in the field.

Note: You will often find Dilta without scales (pic below). You will then need to check for a male (always worth taking a voucher specimen, just in case..could also find something new?) or you could try rearing it until it has gone through a moult or two? They are also a reddish pink when really young.
 
Dilta chateri without scales
 
Useful links to keys...

 

Dilta spp...Short antennae; ocelli under outer corners of compound eye

Dilta hibernica
Dilta hibernica showing ocelli position under compound eye
 

Dilta chateri. A common species in south Wales. Was found new to science by Arthur Chater in 1995 after he undertook a survey of the Thysanura in Cardiganshire. At that time he assumed that the commonest species there was D. hibernica, it was only after he published the survey in the Dyfed Invertebrate Group Newsletter that he realised it was something different. (He has since commented that he's never found true D. hibernica in Cardiganshire). https://yrefail.net/dig/DIG_Vol22.pdf

D. chateri is currently only known from Wales, though probably overlooked elsewhere due to it often being mistaken for D. hibernica?  I've seen possible photo evidence of D. chateri around Bath, Bristol and Cornwall areas. Be great to get one confirmed. 

Edit: Several specimens have been found in Somerset (2021).


Dilta chateri showing the dark band to rear of the hump

The above specimen is in what i call 'full splendor' and showing the dark band to rear of the hump - diagnostic. It won't always be this thick (often with a thin band) and will occasionally be broken in the middle. T. alternatus will also have a similar band. 

Dilta chateri
Side on view of fresh moult D. chateri
Dilta chateri
D. chateri showing thin dark band to rear of hump and typical body pattern

D. chateri
 

Dilta hibernica. Not so common in south Wales, i don't find it too often in the Valleys. When i do come across it, it tends to be in wooded limestone areas. Hard Fern - Blechnum spicant overhanging path banks, rock ledges etc are a good a place as any to collect these, along with other Bristletails.

Dilta hibernica
Dilta hibernica in full splendor (photo by Chris Lawrence..one of my specimens)

If you look close at photo above, you will see a dark V shape band running back from front center of hump down along body sides. There will also be a pale circular patch on body, found just above the pale area at base of tails - looking to be diagnostic?   

Note: a similar pale area can occasionally be seen in some fresh moult D. chateri.

Dilta hibernica
Dark Dilta hibernica showing pale area part way up from tails.

Ive used this bad pic of a D. hibernica to illustrate how clear the pale circular area can usually be seen. This and the dark V over hump diagnostic in separating it from the other two Dilta spp.


Dilta littoralis. Looks to be scarce in south Wales, known from an handful of sites. It occurs mainly on coastal sites and on heaths, grasslands, scree slopes etc. However, it has been found on heath and a colliery site in the Sirhowy Valley (the one below), some 20miles inland from the coast.

Dilta littoralis
Dilta littoralis with dark broken lines running length of body.

These don't seem to be as showy as the other two, often seen with dark broken lines running length of body, as shown in photo below.

Dilta littoralis
Dilta littoralis

 

Dilta littoralis in full splendor
 

Note: Dilta littoralis specimens that have lost their scales are possibly black and not cream-pinkish when 'bald' as in D. chateri and possibly D. hibernica? Needs more investigating.

 

Petrobius spp...Antennae longer than body, ocelli 'hour glass' shaped under compound eyes.

Petrobius brevistylis. A common species considered to be confined to the coast. It likes to occupy sites with access to large continuous rocky surfaces immediately above the high tide mark. Regularly found in same areas where you would find Sea-slaters - Ligia oceanica.

Petrobius
Petrobius showing long antennae

Not possible to separate P. brevistylis from P. maritimus on body pattern. A close look at the face is needed to check for scales or lack of.

Petrobius brevistylis
Petrobius brevistylis. Scales clearly visible on face; face looks darker (Photo by Matt Prince).

A look at the face head on, you will see dark scales on the frons; area by outer corner of compound eye etc; (see Mick's Microcoryphia key in above link for better understanding of where to look) head looking generally darker in appearance.


Petrobius maritimus. A common coastal species that can also be found inland, have been known to enter homes. In areas where these two species occur together, a considerable degree of habitat separation can often be noticed. P. brevistylis will occupy sites with large areas of rocky surfaces, while P. maritimus usually occupies the upper surfaces of smaller stones. The average population density is greater in P. brevistylis than in P. maritimus. P. brevistylis is considered the more successful of the two species in Britain (Davies and Richardson, 1970).

Petrobius maritimus
Petrobius maritimus

Petrobius maritimus. Head generally paler with darker areas absent from frons and area by outer corner of compound eyes etc (see Mick's Microcoryphia key in above link for better understanding or where to look). A black marking is present on the pleural fold.

 

Trigoniophthalmus...Antennae same length as body; ocelli beneath middle of compound eyes.

Trigoniophthalmus alternatus...a scarce species in south Wales and the rest of Britain for that matter. This one often turns up in gardens and will venture into homes. 

Trigoniophthalmus alternatus showing ocelli beneath middle of compound eyes.

Trigoniophthalmus alternatus from a garden wall in Tongwynlais

Pale hump with dark band over rear. Overall body pattern seems consistent in this species? Some side on shots can have an appearance of Dilta chateri. Though, if you manage to get a look at the ocelli position, then it will be unmistakable..especially if you have a worn specimen. 


Extra info, images, habitat photos and species info below. Any confirmed images, extra info etc would be most welcome. Will keep updating this post as going along. 

 

Dilta chateri
An overwintered Dilta chateri showing a bronze colour

 

 

Dilta chateri and D. hibernica habitat
Dilta chateri and D. hibernica habitat

 

Dilta hibernica...Sarah Patton
Dilta hibernica (image by Sarah Patton)

  

 

Dilta chateri and D. hibernica habitat
Dilta chateri and D. hibernica habitat


Dilta hibernica
Dilta hibernica


Petrobius maritimus habitat
Petrobius maritimus habitat





































































Monday, 8 February 2016

Daudebardia rufa

Been itching to get out with the Glamorgan Fungus Group ever since it was reformed back in April 2014. Not only for the fungi but a chance to find new sites for Malacolimax tenellus and anything else that came my way. Work and other commitments had always got in the way until a meet at Caerphilly on 31/10/15.

The well attended group gathered in the car park just off Van road; from here we headed off south over into Wern Ddu. Almost immediately on entering the wood I spotted a small clump of Hypholoma fasciculare (Sulphur Tuft) growing off some moss covered logs, the logs looked to have been lying there for sometime. I went over to investigate further to make sure of my identification and to see what else was to be found. While here I decided to peel back a small section of moss from the top of one of these logs and was immediately presented by a small bluish slug. It wasn’t until I picked it up that I noticed it had a small shell on its rear, yes I thought, finally found a shelled slug. On closer inspection I noticed that the shell was coiled and not finger-nail like, it didn’t look like anything I’ve noted as being found in Britain before. The realisation of me finding something new to Britain was slowly sinking in but didn’t want to broadcast it to the group, as I first wanted to make sure. Another member of the group Martin Bell came over and examined the find, he too didn’t recognise it. So I quickly managed some photos and placed it in a pot.

When I got home I immediately trawled through various on line resources and quickly came across Daudebardia. Checking through AnimalBase I saw that they have 14 species listed for that Genus and D. rufa looking to be the most common. Getting all excited I sent an email with attached photos to Ben Rowson to ask for his expert opinion. I also posted an enquiry on Pan Species Listing Facebook group, to which Malcolm Storey agreed that I was on the right track with Daudebardia.

Me, Ben Rowson and Karen Wilkinson have been back on several occasions to search for more, with great success. It can be readily found in the immediate area of first find, getting slightly more elusive further out. Ben has confirmed it as Daudebardia rufa...more about it in the Journal of Conchology pages 119-121 publish on Friday 5th February 2016.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Brown Field Site

One of the best brown field sites found locally to me has to be the area in between Aberbargoed, Bedwellty and Markham, its apparently owned by the Environmental Health section of Caerphilly Council, which department is anyone guess because they don't even now themselves.

I've got some interesting memories of visiting this place over the years. One from back when it was a water filled quarry, where i nearly drowned when i was about 6 years of age. Me and a friend where trying to catch newts that where surfacing near the waters edge. The banking collapsed from underneath me, the rubble trapping me under water. Thanks to Brett Price for the life saving rescue...pulled me out by my basin cut.

Later on it became a landfill site. Me and a few other mates would go scrounging through the rubbish looking for pen knives, the sort you could buy from the local papershop at the time. You had to be quick as there was competition, mostly in the form of the late Rolly Adams.

Markham/Aberbargoed Old Quarry Site
Its now regenerated into an interesting habitat that's become home for a wide range of local flora and fauna...a large area of grassland, surrounded by Gorse, Bramble and Tree. These scrub areas can be almost impossible to get through, offering excellent shelter for the local fox and rabbit population. A matter of a fact, this is probably the only place you can get to see rabbit regularly these day, rabbit has become quite scarce around here.
The wetter grassed areas can amass an interesting display of Southern Marsh and Common Spotted Orchids, many of which take on some interesting forms.

This particular wet area (shown in photo below) has to be my favourite part of the site. I once counted 52 Bee Orchids in this small area, shame its in the process of being taken over by Willow.
Its one of those places you need to keep an eye on where your placing your feet, nearly trod on these little chaps on one of my visits.
Where there are voles there will certainly be vole runs and tunnels. These are always worth a search through. I've found a good number of beetles this way and at this particular site good numbers of the woodlouse Armadillidium nasatum.
More photos...




Sunday, 19 January 2014

Ambulance station field

Tidy weather for a change, my chickens sunning themselves down the bottom of the garden, even had a bit of tunnage from a couple of Dunnocks and a Song Thrush. So its out for a quick nose about behind the old Ambulance Station in Aberbargoed. Its mostly a small area of grassland and planted trees, the northern end of what used to be Bargoed pit. It has one of those stupid outdoor gyms that nobody use.

I mostly focused my search under the moss covered stones found in amongst the trees. Found a number of Glomeris marginata rolled up under most of the stones i turned. This one caught my eye, not seen one this colour. I've seen close, they have always had some black on them and have all been small specimens, this one was large.

Glomeris marginata

Nice to find some Haplophthalmus mengii, collected three, lucky one was a male. I've also taken H. danicus, not to far from here, would very much like to find H. montivagus to round these off. Not the best photo...

Haplophthalmus mengii

I found my only beetle, this i thought would stand nicely for a few shots. Manged to get in one before it tried to make a run for it down a mouse hole. 

Leistus ferrugineus

The walk back took me on to the old train station. A quick search over the walls never fail to produce Clausilia bidentata.

Aberbargoed Train Station

Juv Clausilia bidentata

Clausilia bidentata
Always worth keeping your eyes peeled for the terrestrial Nemertine - Argonemertes dendyi. Found two of a colour i don't normally find, some shade of pink seems to be the usual here. Geonemertes dendyi also seems to be another name for this Australian introduction.

Geonemertes dendyi




Thursday, 16 January 2014

Standing dead Birch


I came across a nice standing dead Birch to scrounge over yesterday. Its situated on a NW facing bank above the Rhymney river, just over from my house. I grabbed a few small handfuls of the looser material to check an was presently surprised at what was contained within this small mix of bark and pulp. Several Craspedosoma rawlinsii, Chordeuma proximum, Platybunus triangularis,and Sabacon viscayanum ramblaianum.

Also had singles of Tachyporus dispar, Megabunus diadema, Rhagium mordax, Anthocoris nemorum and Lepthyphantes minutus. Did also get a few Springtails which i did not bother with, a female Quedius mesomelinus/maurus and some other tiny Staphs I've yet to id.



Rhagium mordax with Craspedosoma rawlinsii below
Old photo of my first Rhagium mordax.
Was not the best day for taking photos, dark and gloomy so the majority of the photos i took were useless.
Tachyporus dispar
Edit...Those Craspedosoma rawlinsii i mentioned above were in fact a new species for Britain. You can read about them and their discovery here Ceratosphys amoena form confusa .I have yet to find C. rawlinsii...