Pretty as a picture-winged fly

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Saturday 26 August 2017 08:20

I had a great day at Butcherlands yesterday finishing the fifth visit of an invertebrate survey there. We are up to around 400 species now with some really interesting species turning up there. I have only seen this incredible picture-winged fly Merzomyia westermanni once before at Knepp a couple of years ago where I carried out a similar survey. It's associated with Hoary Ragwort which is abundant on both sites. On our reserves it's only ever been recorded at Ebernoe before but not since the 1980s!

But what I got most excited about was only the second record for West Sussex (and the first for any Trust reserve) of the Triangle Spider Hyptiotes paradoxus. So three days ago I was copied into a tweet showing this unusual spider had been seen at Kingley Vale. It's known to like Yew and I had always thought if it was going to turn up anywhere it would be in this part of the Downs (in fact I had thought I would find it at Levin Down). Anyway, at Butcherlands I swept it from a field of Soft Rush! Sixty species of spider have now been recorded at Butcherlands, nine (15%) of which have conservation status! That has been quite a surprise for a site that was arable 16 years ago.

And this is the second species new to the reserve network. A very odd looking gall on Ash called the Ash Key Gall Aceria fraxinivorus caused by mites.

I also met up with dawn Nelson for the latter half of the day and we swapped some skills. i had seen an interesting knotgrass but I am not so sure it will be anything special now. We called in to an area that had been coppiced and had responded with a huge patch of Orpine (albeit grazed hard by the Roe Deer). It was COVERED in the fly Rhingia rostrata. Dawn's reaction to the huge female Wasp Spider we found was fantastic! One more visit to go, I wonder what else we will find?

And finally, after three years of looking. I saw one of the Willow Emerald Damselflies when I got back to Woods Mill!

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