If Darth Maul were a beetle...

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Monday 26 May 2014 16:28

...then he would probably look like this. Yesterday, I attended the second half of the Knepp recording weekend and this beetle being the very scarce (Na) Pilemostoma fastuosa was the highlight of the day for me. It's so strikingly unlike other tortoise beetles, I almost mistook it for a ladybird, then a Cryptocephalus but when I realised what it was, it dropped to the ground and I plunged my hand into a mass of hidden Blackthorn spines to get to it! Worth it though. One of the food plants listed for this species is Fleabane, which there's rather a lot of at Knepp! Odd that species restricted to common plants, can often be so scarce.

The rarest thing we saw all day was probably the bracket fungus Phellinus populicola on Grey Poplar.

And also on oak was the rare Phellinus robustus. I was really glad to see these two species, as I missed them during last year's bioblitz!

I sieved a pile of twigs, litter and dead wood, that I think someone said was an old Barn Owls nest, from a large tree that had fallen down. In there, we recorded Korynetes caeruleus, Cobweb Beetle Ctesias serra larvae and (new for me) Attagenus pellio. Nearby we recorded an Awl-fly and Anthocomus fasciatus, being only the second time I have recorded these saproxylic species.

In the garden, I was pleased to finally see Asparagus Beetle Crioceris asparagi. Excuse my hand.

Another cool bug that I didn't manage a photo of was a lacebug (Dictyla convergens) beaten off oak. Interestingly it turned out to be a species associated with Water Forget-me-not but as the oak was right next to a lake, this makes total sense. I still have quite a few species yet to identify. A thoroughly enjoyable day in all, a big thank you to Charlie Burrell, Amy Nightingale and Ted Green for such a great day.

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