Weevil genius

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Friday 9 August 2019 18:30

Last Saturday I completed visit 5 of 6 of the invertebrate survey of East Head and it was a great day, I had to reschedule at short notice due to poor weather and was expecting to be doing the survey alone but I was wrong. Mark Gurney, Lee Walther and his family were all able to join in at short notice

Working in conservation, I have been lucky enough to work with so many of the great naturalists of our time and Mark Gurney has got to be up there. The last time we spent the day entomologising was about 2012, you can read about it here. Here is Mark with his legendary weevil fork.

Seven years later and Mark has levelled up becoming a national specialist on weevils. His weevil guides are making this unnecessarily difficult group much more accessible, even the apionids. In the field, Mark now uses multiple forks and has a new outfit. Seriously though it's great to still be working together all these years later after our RSPB days, even though we are both in different roles now.

The highlight for me was the weevil Protapion dissimile. I mentioned there was a big patch of Hare's-tail Clover over there. We got to it, turned the suction sampler on for 30 seconds and there was a male, complete with funny tarsi and swollen first antennal segments. It's great when it all fits together like that. This was a new beetle for me and only the 7th Sussex record. 

We found some living specimens of Dicranocephalus agilis. This is the only known site for this bug in Sussex. So far I have only found a dead adult, so it was good to find these nymphs on the fixed dunes where more dead litter builds up beneath the plants.

The proportion of species with conservation status has dropped slightly but is still incredibly high at 16.2%. Here is one of Mark's photos, the Nb Anerastia lotella. A mainly coastal pyralid that feeds on grasses. I also found a dead Shore Wainscot which was cathartic as I thought I had the larva earlier in the year but couldn't confirm it. I also found another Hypocaccus dimidiatus in the mobile dunes.

And another one of Mark's, a plant tick for me. Lax-flowered Sea-lavender.

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