Invertebrates of chalk-grassland

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Thursday, 9 August 2018 11:20

On the 1st June, I ran a course at Levin Down called the Invertebrates of chalk-grassland. I promised to write up the species list so here it is, unfortunately a bit late but this has bee a crazy summer so I am sorry for the delay. I now realise important rainy days are after experiencing a summer without any, I actually started writing this at the end of June. Anyway, the course was about showing people what they can do in the field but also what the limitations are of doing so. Here, I also wanted to prove the point that habitat specialists are pretty uncommon by introducing some rather crude resource analysis.

We arrived at Levin to find it shrouded in low cloud. This did not bode well. However, we started the morning simply by active searching, waiting for the dew to burn off. Sweeping, beating and suction sampling did not begin until after lunch.

It ended up being a pretty awesome day. We recorded 120 species in the field. Turns out 23 (19.1%) of these were new to the site! Nine had conservation status (7.5%). I personally didn't get any ticks but the highlights for me were these two. At the top of this post is the suction-sampler special. The tiny little Southern Crablet Ozyptila nigrita. I have 11 records for this species and eight of them have been made using a suction sampler.

But the star of the show was seeing three of these, two males and a female. Xysticus bifasciatus. A rather smart spider. You can do this male by its genitalia on this photo, they are so large and distinctive (fnar fnar!) Not a chalk-grassland invertebrate at all though.

And the beetle Tritoma bipustulata. This is the only place I have ever seen this, it seems to be fairly easy on this site on rather dull bracket fungi on relatively small trees, scrub and stumps that have been cleared. Again, not a chalk-grassland invertebrate.

Here is the list with a few notes on its key resources and associations, the year of the last record and whether it has a conservation status or not (noted after the species name). Now, these are quick notes, I expect people will disagree on some of them, please don't comment on the detail as I won't have the time or energy to get drawn into another debate. As you can see, looking down the list, chalk-grassland specialists are actually few and far between and probably don't make up anymore than 10% of what we saw. Sorry this doesn't quite fit the page but it's a compromise of getting as much detail into a small a space as possible and the year of the last record is quite a useful thing to have here.

Order Species Last Resource/associations
Mite Ixodes ricinus 2016 Mammal parasite
Woodlouse Philoscia muscorum 2016 Detritivore
Woodlouse Oniscus asellus 2016 Detritivore
Woodlouse Trichoniscus pusillus agg. 2016 Detritivore
Woodlouse Porcellio scaber 2016 Detritivore
Woodlouse Armadillidium vulgare New Detritovore
Beetle Agriotes sputator 2016 Grassland, roots
Beetle Agrypnus murinus 2017 Roots, light soils, often chalk
Beetle Athous haemorrhoidalis 2016 Generalist, roots
Beetle Ampedus elongantulus (Na) New Deadwood
Beetle Cantharis rustica 2016 Grassland predator
Beetle Carabus problematicus 2017 Generalist predator
Beetle Chrysolina polita 2017 Generalist herbivore
Beetle Cordylepherus viridis 2017 Grassland
Beetle Cryptocephalus aureolus 2017 Chalk-grassland, yellow composites
Beetle Orchid Beetle 2017 Chalk-grassland
Beetle Lesser Stag Beetle 2016 Deadwood
Beetle Epitrix atropae (NS) 2016 Deadly Nightshade
Beetle Harlequin Ladybird 2016 Generalist predator
Beetle Dasytes aeratus New Deadwood
Beetle Denticollis linearis New Deadwood
Beetle Isomira murina 2016 Woodland edge
Beetle Oedemera lurida 2016 Flowers
Beetle Oedemera nobilis 2016 Flowers
Beetle Onthophagus joannae 2016 Dung
Beetle Phyllobius roboretanus 2016 Grassland herbivore
Beetle Phyllopertha horticola New Grassland, roots
Beetle Pterostichus madidus 2017 Generalist predator
Beetle Pyrochroa serraticornis 2017 Deadwood
Beetle Sinodendron cylindricum 2017 Deadwood
Beetle Stenocorus meridianus 2017 Deadwood
Beetle Stenurella melanura 2017 Deadwood
Beetle Tritoma bipustulata (Na) 2016 Deadwood
Butterfly Orange Tip 2018 Woodland edge
Butterfly Brown Argus 2016 Grassland
Butterfly Small Heath (NT, BAP) 2017 Grassland
Butterfly Small Blue (NT, BAP) 2017 Chalk-grassland, Kidney Vetch
Butterfly Dingy Skipper (VU, BAP) 2017 Grassland, legumes
Butterfly Common Blue 2017 Grassland, Bird's-foot Trefoil
Butterfly Grizzled Skipper 2017 Chalk-grassland, Rosaceae
Cockroach Ectobius lapponicus (NS) 1988 Detritovore
Dragonfly Broad-Bodied Chaser New Aquatic larva
Hymenopteran Andrena cineraria 2014 Flowers
Hymenopteran Andrena haemorrhoa New Flowers
Hymenopteran Bombus terrestris New Flowers
Hymenopteran Bombus pascuorum 2016 Flowers
Hymenopteran Formica fusca 2016 Generalist omnivore
Hymenopteran Robin's Pin-Cushion Gall 2017 Rose
Hymenopteran Yellow Meadow Ant 2016 Grassland omnivore
Hymenopteran Bombus hypnorum New Flowers
Hymenopteran Vespa crabro New Generalist predator
Moth Silver Y 2016 Migrant
Moth Yellow Shell 2016 Generalist herbivore
Moth Celypha lacunana 2004 Generalist herbivore
Moth Green Carpet 2010 Bedstraws
Moth Crambus lathoniellus 2016 Grassland herbivore
Moth Delplanqueia dilutella 2017 Chalk-grassland, Wild Thyme
Moth Helcystogramma rufescens 2017 Grassland herbivore
Moth Vine's Rustic New Generalist herbivore
Moth Treble Brown Spot New Genralist herbivore
Moth Nemophora degeerella New Wood-anemone
Moth Common Swift New Generalist herbivore
Moth Micropterix calthella New Flowers
Moth Dusky Sallow New Dry grassland, herbivore
Moth Pyrausta aurata 2016 Labiates
Moth Straw Dot 2006 Grassland herbivore
Moth White Ermine New Generalist hebrivore
Moth Speckled Yellow New Wood Sage
Orthopteran Field Grasshopper 2017 Dry grassland omnivore
Orthopteran Speckled Bush-cricket 2016 Woodland edge omnivore
Orthopteran Roesel's Bush-cricket 2016 Rank grassland omnivore
Orthopteran Common Green Grasshopper 2017 Grassland
Orthopteran Dark Bush-cricket 2016 Woodland edge
Scorpionfly Panorpa germanica 2016 Woodland & scrub predator
Bug Juniper Aphid 2016 Juniper
Bug Agramma laetum 2016 Dry grassland
Bug Calocoris roseomaculatus 2017 Chalk-grassland
Bug Capsus ater 2016 Grassland
Bug Juniper Shieldbug 2017 Juniper
Bug Sloe Shieldbug 2016 Generalist
Bug Leptopterna dolabrata 2017 Grassland
Bug Leptopterna ferrugata 2016 Dry grassland
Bug Stenodema laevigata 2017 Grassland
Bug Nabis rugosus New Predator
Bug Aphrophora alni 2016 Trees & scrub
Bug Cercopis vulnerata 2016 Tall herb
Bug Eupteryx notata 2016 Chalk-grassland
Fly Chloromyia formosa 2016 Generalist
Fly Leptarthrus brevirostris 2017 Chalk-grassland
Fly Myathropa florea 2016 Deadwood
Fly Eristalis pertinax New Generalist
Fly Rhagio tringarius 2017 Humid
Fly Rhingia campestris 2016 Dung/Wood-edge
Fly Tipula vernalis 2016 Generalist
Fly Volucella bombylans 2016 Aculeate hosts/Flowers
Millipede Cylindroiulus punctatus 2016 Deadwood
Mollusc Balea sarsii 2017 Trees & scrub
Mollusc Candidula intersecta 2016 Chalk-grassland
Mollusc Cochlodina laminata 2016 Woodland, chalky
Mollusc Cornu aspersum 2017 Generalist
Mollusc Deroceras reticulatum 1983 Generalist
Mollusc Pomatias elegans 2017 Woodland-edge on chalk
Mollusc Vallonia costata 2016 Dry short turf, often chalk
Mollusc Vertigo pygmaea 1993 Dry chalky soils also marshes
Mollusc Monacha cantiana 2016 Generalist
Spider Labyrinth Spider 2016 Generalist predator
Spider Harpactea hombergi 2016 Trees, litter, house etc predator
Spider Larinioides cornutus 2016 Grassland predator
Spider Mangora acalypha 2016 Grassland predator
Spider Metellina mengei 2016 Generlaist predator
Spider Ozyptila claveata (NS, BAP) 2016 Chalk-grassland
Spider Nursery-Web Spider 2016 Grassland predator
Spider Selimus vittatus 2016 Woodland edge predator
Spider Simitidion simile New Generalist predator
Spider Neottiura bimaculata 2017 Woodland & scrub predator
Spider Xysticus bifasciatus (NS) 2017 Scarce generalist predator
Spider Zora spinimana 2016 Grassland predator
Spider Pachygnatha degeeri 2016 Generalist predator
Springtail Pogonognathellus longicornis New Fungivore/detritovore
Springtail Orchesella cincta New Fungivore/detritovore

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