Sunday, 30 October 2016

keys updated

The new edition of The Coleopterist arrived yesterday and this as usual gave reports of beetle species new to Britain. These were in families Staphylinidae, Chrysomelidae and Laemophloeidae.  These species have now bwen added to the relevant keys and published on the website.  Hopefully this should enable other workers to identify these species so an assessment of their level pf establishment in the UK can be made.

Friday, 28 October 2016

Value of the extra pixils

Came across a ground beetle in an empty food storage box in the kitchen a couple of weeks ago - no idea how it had got there.  Using my carabid to genus key it came to genus Bradycellus.  I could see the shape of the mentum (a rectangular structure under the head forming a lower lip for the mouth-parts) with the microscope so I thought I'd try to photograph it.  I was disappointed with the result using my Canon EOS 40D with a MP-E 65 mm macro lens at full zoom - it didn't seem to resolve the detail or in particular show the tooth at the front edge of the mentum.  I knew the camera was 6 megapixils so wondered what increasing that would do.  So off to the camera shop and return with an 18 megapixil Canon EOS 100D and me oh my what a difference.



The image on the left shows the 6MP version and that on the right the 18MP one.  It is much clearer on my computer of course as the image has lost resolution dropping it here.  I can see the microscopic surface texture of the underside of the head and prosternum and the mentum (the structure between the base of the antennae) is much clearer including the tiny central tooth.  I've placed two other photos of the beetle in my Bradycellus key online.

To the mystery of how it ended up in a kitchen storage box.  The beetle keys to Bradycellus verbasci, a common species with over 1600 records on the National Biodiversity Network site including our grid square.  My notes say that it is attracted to light so it must have come inside during the late summer and accidentally got stuck in the cupboard.

Monday, 9 May 2016

Myosurus minimus at last

I have tried to find the mousetail (Myosurus minimus) on two occasions so far.  Last year I tried a location near Hartley Wintney and couldn't find it.  This year I tried a known site near Plastow Green but may have been too early.

On a walk with the grandchildren from North Warnborough to Odiham along the canal and back on a footpath across the fields we came across a water trough in the middle of an area of pasture which had been well trodden by cattle the previous autumn.  I had walked through this field last summer and had considered it suitable habitat for the mousetail.  I was delighted to find not one but hundreds of plants in an area about 15 metres by 15 metres. Although inconspicuous, once you got your eye in the grandchildren were well able to spot the plants.

Myosurus minimus near North Warnborough

My granddaughter also spotted a bug crossing the path which turned out to be the first time I'd seen a member of family Cydnidae.  Identification to family is straightforward with the spines along the legs. I decided to produce a key for this family which is now published here https://sites.google.com/site/mikesinsectkeyshymenoptera/Home/hemiptera/key-to-the-british-species-of-family-cydnidae.  The species was one of the commoner ones in the family, Legnotus limbosus, associated with bedstraws. The closest of these was in the nearby hedge.

Legnotus limbosus

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Key to the British species of Malachiidae (Coleoptera) published

Uploaded a key to the British species of the malachite beetles (Malachiidae) today, translated from the German and made specific to the British fauna.  It is published here: https://sites.google.com/site/mikesinsectkeys/Home/keys-to-coleoptera/key-for-the-identification-of-british-malachiidae.  There are a few very common species in this family but many rare ones.  Most of the species are illustrated but if you have a photograph of any that are missing and are happy for me to include them then please let me know.  If you use the key please let me know if you have suggestions for improvements or if you find anything that doesn't work properly etc. Contact me on mikesinsectkeysATgmail.com (obviously the AT is an @)

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Keys to Cantharidae and Ptiliidae

I've recently improved the keys to Cantharidae and posted them on the website at https://sites.google.com/site/mikesinsectkeys/Home/keys-to-coleoptera/cantharidae. Using these you should be able to have a go at identifying any British species in the male sex. The species of one of the genera (Malthodes) are very similar but have very good characters in males.  

I have also made adjustments to the key to Chrysomelinae to accommodate Paropsisterna selmani - a pest of Eucalyptus which has fairly recently been found in Great Britain.

The members of family Ptiliidae are mostly very small and include our smallest species, the recently discovered Baranowskiella ehnstromi.  The key posted at https://sites.google.com/site/mikesinsectkeys/Home/keys-to-coleoptera/keys-for-the-identification-of-british-ptiliidae should allow you to get some way with identification but you will certainly need a good microscope with good lighting.  Happy identifying and do let me know how you get on - positive or negative points.  

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Staphylinidae workshop

Went today to Dinton Pastures to study Staphylinidae with like-minded coleopterists and general entomologists wanting to get to grips with a challenging group.  Studying specimens and comments made in the introduction to the day have resulted in a couple of amendments to the Staphylinidae keys on the website which are indicated by today's date. 

Peter Hodge kindly drew my attention to an error in the Cryptocephalinae key (Chrysomelidae) in that I had illustrated a couplet 8 under Cryptocephalus showing colour forms that only occurred on the continent.  This has now been amended with a new version published and illustrations of the male aedeagus included which are an important feature in separating Cryptocephalus bipunctatus and C. biguttatus

At the meeting I found that a number of people were using the keys on the website so I made requests for feedback of the kind and quality that Peter offered.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Ormyridae (Chalcidoidea, Hymenoptera) and Histeridae (Coleoptera)

Ormyridae (Chalcidoidea, Hymenoptera)

Having discovered a paper written by Zerova & Seryogina (2005) entitled Review of Palearctic Ormyridae (Hymenoptera, Chalcidoidea) with description of two new species I decided to produce an illustrated key just for our four species.  Having done this I sought the permission of one of the authors (M.D.Zarova) to publish this on my website and she was happy for me to do so.  So if you have some specimens of this family do have a go with the key, published at https://sites.google.com/site/mikesinsectkeyshymenoptera/Home/hymenoptera/apocrita-parasitica/keys-to-superfamily-chalcidoidea.

Histeridae (Coleoptera)

While checking the identification of some other beetles for a research project in Ireland I had a bit of time left so looked over the specimens of Histeridae curated by the Hampshire Cultural Trust's entomology department at Winchester.  This resulted in my being able to clarify some of the couplets in the Histeridae key so this has been updated.