Invertebrates of a Heathland

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Saturday, 19 August 2017 19:29

Yesterday I ran a new course for the Trust entitled 'Invertebrates of a Heathland'. The idea was to show the participants how to find and identify some of the many species of invertebrate that thrive in this habitat. So where better to run it than at our third most speciose site and arguably the richest heathland in Sussex than Iping & Stedham Commons?

It was a good group with 11 in attendance including staff from Sussex Wildlife Trust, Surrey Wildlife Trust, Species Recovery Trust, National Trust and Thames Basin Heaths Partnership. My approach was to get them to get their hand's dirty, so nets and pots were handed out and id didn't take long until we built up quite an impressive list. I have included below the whole list as promised to the course attendees with some notes on the species they saw. 'N' is new to the site (14 in all), 'NN' is new to the site AND the reserve network (amazingly there were three of these!) and GL was new to me. I had four new species taking me into 7th places on the PSL rankings.

Taxon group Species Status
beetle 7-spot Ladybird
beetle Cream-streaked Ladybird
beetle Exapion ulicis
beetle Heather Beetle
beetle Heather Ladybird
beetle Micrelus ericae
beetle Neliocarus sus
beetle Paradromius linearis
beetle Pine Ladybird
beetle Poecilus cupreus
beetle Protopirapion atratulum N
beetle Silpha atrata N
beetle Sitona lineatus
beetle Sphaeriestes castaneus NN
beetle Striped Ladybird
beetle Welsh Chafer
butterfly Gatekeeper
butterfly Red Admiral
butterfly Small Tortoiseshell N
butterfly Speckled Wood
centipede Lithobius forficatus N
centipede Lithobius variegatus N
crustacean Porcellio scaber
dragonfly Azure Damselfly
dragonfly Black Darter
dragonfly Emperor Dragonfly
earwig Common Earwig
harvestman Paroligolophus agrestis N
harvestman Phalangium opilio
hymenopteran Ammophila pubescens
hymenopteran Apis mellifera
hymenopteran Bombus lapidarius N
hymenopteran Bombus pascuorum
hymenopteran Bombus terrestris
hymenopteran Cerceris arenaria
hymenopteran Colletes hederae N
hymenopteran Epeolus cruciger GL
hymenopteran Formica fusca
hymenopteran Formica rufa
hymenopteran Formica sanguinea
hymenopteran Neodiprion sertifer NN, GL
hymenopteran Nomada rufipes
hymenopteran Philanthus triangulum
lacewing Chrysoperla carnea group
moth Angle Shades
moth Beautiful Yellow Underwing
moth Eupoecilia angustana N
moth Fox Moth
moth Horse-Chestnut Leaf-miner
moth Large Yellow Underwing
moth Lesser Yellow Underwing
moth Rush Veneer
moth Setaceous Hebrew Character
orthopteran Bog Bush-cricket
orthopteran Common Ground-hopper
orthopteran Long-winged Cone-head
orthopteran Meadow Grasshopper
orthopteran Mottled Grasshopper
orthopteran Roesel's Bush-cricket
orthopteran Speckled Bush-cricket
spider Agalenatea redii
spider Anelosimus vittatus
spider Araneus diadematus
spider Araneus quadratus
spider Arctosa perita
spider Argiope bruennichi
spider Evarcha arcuata
spider Evarcha falcata
spider Gibbaranea gibbosa
spider Hypsosinga albovittata
spider Labyrinth Spider
spider Linyphia triangularis
spider Mangora acalypha
spider Metellina segmentata
spider Philodromus histrio
spider Pisaura mirabilis
spider Simitidion simile
spider Theridion sisyphium
spider Thomisus onustus
spider Trochosa terricola
spider Xerolycosa nemoralis
spider Zygiella atrica
true bug Birch Shieldbug
true bug Drymus sylvaticus
true bug Gastrodes grossipes
true bug Heath Assasin Bug
true bug Hairy Shieldbug
true bug Himacerus apterus
true bug Kleidocerys resedae
true bug Macrodema micropterum
true bug Nabis ericetorum
true bug Neophilaenus lineatus N
true bug Orthotylus ericetorum
true bug Phytocoris insignis NN, GL
true bug Pilophorus cinnamopterus
true bug Rhyparochromus pini
true bug Scolopostethus decoratus
true bug Stenodema calcarata
true bug Tortoise Bug
true bug Ulopa reticulata
true fly Chrysotoxum festivum
true fly Dasysyrphus tricinctus N
true fly Episyrphus balteatus
true fly Hornet robberfly
true fly Machimus atricapillus

The most exciting find for me was Phytocoris insignis. This rare heathland species that looks like a small and dark Phytocoris varipes was swept from Heather on Stedham. It's only the second Sussex site for this RDB3 species.

But the stars of the show were the Hornet Robber Fly and Thomisus onsitus. Hornet Robber Fly because it was new to all the attendees and was the biggest one I had ever seen. What a beauty! Thomisus onistus because one of the attendees stated at the beginning how much they wanted to see this strange spider. I instructed that it was best to sweep Bell Heather and after some furious sweeping, she turned up the only one!

Bee Wolf was EVERYWHERE!

And Epeolus cruciger was a new one for me. It's hard to believe this is a bee!

Spiders came in at 22 species, with the stonking Philodromus histrio a real favourite.

Another attendee found Ivy Bee new to the site too. So it was really great to not only give people some guidance but also to show that they can directly contribute to the recording of such well recorded sites. Of the 105 species mentioned above, 14 were new to the site! This really surprised me and some of them seem like they might be errors on my part when I put the master spreadsheet together (Small Tortoiseshell and Bombus lapidarius particularly). The reserve network now boasts records of some 9908 species and 2781 of these have been recorded at Iping & Stedham. We didn't add any new spiders though, it's really tough going to find a new spider for this site. No Heath Tiger Beetles but we were cut short on that one by a monster of a storm. It was a great atmosphere and I would definitely run this kind of course again.

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