Posted by Graeme Lyons , Thursday, 20 March 2014 21:35
Myrmecophile: An organism, such as a beetle, that habitually shares the nest of an ant colony.
My field season started with a bang today as Alice, Chris and I went to Flatropers Wood in East Sussex, not far from the Kent border, to set up an invertebrate survey there. It's not a SSSI or even an SNCI and as a result I don't get over there very much. It does have some great invertebrate habitat though and a survey was long over due. The best area we surveyed was a heathy woodland ride with plenty of wood ants and I was hoping for some interesting myrmecophiles. I wasn't expecting to get the Scarce Seven-spot Ladybird Coccinella magnifica by sweeping around the first wood and nest that I came across but I did! They are strikingly different to the much commoner Seven-spots. Much bigger spots, four white spots on the underside (rather than two) but most obvious is the difference in shape. The back of the elytra is really bulbous, it drops away almost vertically to the ground, it looks a bit like a cycle helmet in profile. Or even like a toy ladybird!
We picked up lots of spring species too, such as Orange Underwing, Green Tiger Beetle, Dotted Bee-fly, Gonea picea and quite a few yet to be identified bees, mainly Nomadas and Andrenas. So good to start surveying again, looking forward to seeing what we find there over the year. I end the day on 4900 species too. Not far to go now until 5000.
That leaves one question: WHY, given the Latin name, did they not call it the Magnificent Seven-spot Ladybird?!