Downsized

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Sunday, 12 January 2014 11:51

Last year it was tussocking. Last week it was sieving flood debris. This week I have mostly been grabbing handfuls of the moss Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus and shaking them into a white tray in an old quarry at Ditchling Beacon. It's basically the chalk-grassland equivalent of tussocking and it's really productive. You have to have a keen eye though as there are some pretty small things to look out for. The above snail is the tiny Prickly Snail Acanthinula aculeata. It's one of those snails that I've wanted to see ever since I bought the snail atlas back in 2009 and I remember reading that the spines often rub off by the time you are likely to find them, not this one though. At  a maximum size of 2.2 mm, it's twice the size of this species....

This is the aptly named Dwarf Snail Punctum pygmaeum. I'm still amazed I managed to spot it at 1.2 mm! I've included my lucky piece of laminated graph paper for scale. You can tell it's not an immature snail of a larger species because the number of whorls (>3.5) show it's an adult. I could just discern these whorls with the naked eye which made me have a closer look.

I added nine species to my list including a couple of great looking harvestmen, Anelasmocephalus cambridgei and Mitostoma chrysomelas (as well as lots of the odd looking Homalenotus quadridentatus I found there two years ago) . I found a smart looking staph called Quedius picipes and this earwig which I thought looked different to the common one. Indeed, it is Lesne's Earwig Forficula lesnei. Finally, I've seen one other than the common one! It was the fact that the hind wings were not sticking out that led me to think it was different (although I didn't know this until I keyed it out).

I also saw the nationally scarce ground bug Drymus pumilio which is about half the size of the much commoner Drymus sylvaticus with which it was found. This is quite a scarce bug and is only the second time I have seen it.

Not scarce, but it's always nice to put a name to a face. This large caterpillar was bright and patterned enough for me to have a go at identifying it and I'm quite confident it's the larvae of the Brown Rustic moth.

Here is the kind of clump of moss that was coming up with so many species. It has the English name Big Shaggy-moss Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus.

So I added nine new species putting me on 4753. That's 35 new species so far this year. Slightly under my required target to get 10,000 by the time I'm 40 but it is January and the day is but young!

2 Response to "Downsized"

amanda peters Says:

Interesting post, going to look in the moss next time I go out. If you find a new moss, insect, fungi etc...how do you start to ID what you have got. I have a real trouble trying ID the things I find.

Christian Owen Says:

Not come across Acanthinula aculeata since about 2002. Found it in one of the woods of Cwmbran, unsure what it was at the time...need to hunt one down again i think.

And nice find on the Earwig. :)

Regards Chris...

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