Constant effort recording

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Monday 8 July 2019 19:39

I had my first weekend off in ages. What did I spend it doing? Looking for spiders. This blog was going to be called 'I have seen 300 species of spider this year!!!'. I needed six species. I worked all day and got one new spider. However the supporting cast of other inverts was far more exciting and I got some nice photos too. At Graffham Common, I swept some heather and young pine and in the first sweep got Scarce 7-spot Ladybird (Na) new to West Sussex (as far as I know it's only known from Flatropers, Chailey Common and Broadwater Warren). A couple of years ago I searched extensively for this in this area (it's only found within a few metres of Formica rufa nests). I think it's highly likely that this has only colonised in the last couple of years as there are more Formica rufa nests now. This in turn is down to the great work Sussex Widllife Trust have done to produce such amazing habitat. I saw three all day and walked right up to one. It's a different shape and has much bigger spots. Here is one next to the ubiquitous 7-spot Ladybird

The power of the spreadsheet we compiled really works not just as a snap shot but as a way of capturing constant effort. The proportion of inverts with conservation status could be assessed from a single survey yet a more accurate result can be made by the accumulative records of all surveys and casual records, the 'true' proportion being slowly converged on by this approach. Graffham Common is unusual in that it's now our fifth best site for this metric. Only Rye Harbour, Iping Common, Seaford Head and Malling Down have higher proportions, all of which are heavily designated sites. Graffham Common is only partly designated as a Local Wildlife Site. Findings yesterday actually increased this proportion from 10.5 to 10.8%. I've got the spreadsheet set up so all you need to do is plug in the year of the last record and this proportion (across all invertebrate groups) is calculated automatically. It's rather satisfying.

A lifer for me was this gruesome wasp. This is the female Methocha articulata, the first time I have seen this Nb species. It allows itself to be captured by a tiger beetle larva where it is grabbed by its armoured waist. It stings the larva then drags it back down its own burrow, lays its eggs on it, seals it in to its own burrow and well you can imagine. 

I also recorded Theridion pinastri (NS) new to all of Sussex! That's the 149th spider recorded there.

Not everything new had cons status (although a lot did). The Heather Shiedlbug is never easy to find but I recorded three adults and a dozen or more immatures yesterday, more than I have ever seen collectively before. Why? Well there were more Heather Beetle larvae yesterday than I have ever seen so I suspect this is what has attracted them in. They were very active and would not keep still.

And not new to the site but nice to see a male Stictoleptura rubra again.

I was hoping for Xysticus luctuosus (this being its only Sussex site). I didn't find it but here is a nice female Xytcius kochi.

And who doesn't love Evarcha arcuata? Such a poser.

And Uloborus walckenaerius is still knocking about. 

Elampus panzeri was a new site record.

Right at the end of the day though I saw this in my tray. Andromeda Lacebug, a new record for any Trust reserve (it's our 10,309th species) of this alien species from Japan. Now I have seen plenty of shots of this before and it's pretty strange looking from above...

...BUT LOOK AT IT FROM THE SIDE!!! What is going on with that fancy head work? It looks like it might as well be from the Andromeda Galaxy not Japan! What evil schemes is it hatching in there?! I had no idea, I thought it was flat! It's like the Eden Project grew legs and came to life. And then shrunk. And then turned black. OK, it's nothing like the Eden Project but this made my day. I love the little freak. Whatever will turn up next out there?

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