Invertebrate news 2017
Insect and Arachnid news and sightings from around Nottinghamshire
 
Saperda scalaris at Sherwood Forest again

Although there may be many other beetles with a much rarer national status in Nottinghamshire, probably none can match the colours and markings of the Longhorn Saperda scalaris.

It currently holds Nationally Scarce Grade A status, meaning it has only been recorded from 16-30 10km squares in the UK since 1980. The larvae live in dead branches and it's range in Nottinghamshire appears largely restricted to the Sherwood Forest area.

The majority of records have come from within the Sherwood Forest NNR and Clumber Park and our own records include singles on low vegetation at Bradmer Hill near Market Warsop on June 5th 2007, on a log pile at Sherwood Forest CP on June 18th 2010, 30 feet up a Birch at Sherwood Forest CP on May 7th 2011 and on a small Birch at Sherwood Forest CP on May 14th 2017.

 
 
The prospects for an early Glow Worm season

We often get asked "when the first Glow Worm will emerge each year?". Its a difficult question to answer and you would think that after monitoring the larval population of a colony for the best part of a decade, that we would have some idea by now.

Such predictions are difficult and largely guesswork at best, but there are other factors to take into consideration.

The ability of Glow Worm larvae to find food (over at least two years) is one, especially during periods of prolonged dryness. The Sherwood Forest area has undergone periods of very dry conditions which leads to dehydration in Glow Worm larvae. During some larval surveying in the late Summer and early Autumn of 2013, we found that some larvae were becoming paper thin and when rain did eventually arrive on September 6th, we found larvae taking on much needed water.

 
Photograph by Martin Dale
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The variabilities of the UK weather is without doubt the biggest factor in determining when any species will appear. Not just around the time of adult emergence, but over the course of the previous few months and probably well over the past year of larval life in Glow Worms. For larvae going on to become adult this Summer, then having suitable weather conditions for hunting (warm and damp) and the ability to find enough food during the previous Autumn, is likely to be much more critical than during the Spring, as most pre-pupation development will already have taken place. We have had over-wintering larva in captivity, which never ate anything before pupation.
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Average monthly minimum Winter temperatures 2008-2017
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    2008/09 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12 2012/13 2013/14 2014/15 2015/16 2016/17
Nov - Apr   2.80C 2.08C 2.35C 3.28C 1.55C 3.33C 2.93C 3.59C 3.46C
Jan - Apr   2.80C 1.62C 3.67C 2.75C 1.05C 3.62C 2.45C 2.35C 3.50C
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Date of first female   May 27th May 24th May 13th May 30th June 8th May 18th May 23rd June 3rd  
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Average monthly maximum Winter temperatures 2008-2017
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    2008/09 2009/10 2010/11 2011/12 2012/13 2013/14 2014/15 2015/16 2016/17
Nov - Apr   8.68C 8.04C 8.71C 9.79C 7.33C 10.29C 9.50C 10.26C 9.60C
Jan - Apr   9.27C 7.67C 10.70C 9.75C 6.95C 10.89C 9.60C 9.30C 10.12C
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Date of first female   May 27th May 24th May 13th May 30th June 8th May 18th May 23rd June 3rd  
  Seasonal variations have tended to produce very mild Winters, often with a short spell of snow or icy conditions. The past couple of Winters locally here, have barely produced a frost, let alone snow.

We have just experienced yet another very mild Winter, which eventually developed into another cool and dry Spring, which was an almost carbon copy of last year.

With a number of Glow Worm larvae appearing relatively early in March, it had looked promising for a potentially early start to this year's glowing season. But then the weather changed and most nights became cool, with the overnight temperature often dropping well into single figures.

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Although there were few nights with a ground or air frost, the cool nights and lack of any real warmth during daylight hours, meant that the prospect for any early females would now seem unlikely. A lack of rain probably hasn't helped matters either and some larvae found during our surveys were quite thin.

A look at the average monthly minimum and maximum Winter temperatures for the period 2008-2017, shows that the two years producing an early Glow Worm season, came when the average minimum temperature was over 3.5C and the average maximum temperature was over 10.5C for the period January to April for both years. We have just read the average temperatures for April and the average minimum temperature for January to April 2017, is 3.5C and the average maximum is over 10.0C. It is possible that this years season could be another early one after all.

 
First Cryptocephalus coryli out at Sherwood Forest

The first Hazel Pot Beetles (Cryptocephalus coryli) of 2017, were found high up Birches on May 12th. This RDB1 and UKBAP priority beetle's only known UK site of recent years was believed to be Sherwood Forest, but was reported from Clumber Park in July 2013 by Allan and Annette Binding.

We know C. coryli seems to be doing well at Sherwood Forest, but it is strongly believed to still be present at Box Hill and Headley Warren in Surrey (per Denton, J. and Collins, G.) but no one has purposely looked for it in the last few years. There have also been no records from Woolmer Forest in Hampshire, since it was recorded there for the first time in 2002 (Lawn, M.) despite further searching and there have been no records from any Lincolnshire site other than Whisby since 2007 (per Barnes, C.).

 
The Mirid Bug Agnocoris reclairei at Attenborough NR

Tim Sexton recorded the Mirid Bug Agnocoris reclairei (Wagner, 1949), from Attenborough NR in April 2017, which looks set to be the first record for VC56.

Something of a wetland species, Agnocoris reclairei had traditionally been restricted to the Fens of Cambridgeshire and Norfolk, but it appears to have undergone a range increase in recent years. There is a single record from Derbyshire listed on the NBN Atlas.

 
A new site for the Alder Leaf Beetle

Agelastica alni (the Alder Leaf Beetle) continues to spread to new areas in the north and north-west of the county. In early April, we recorded 30 adults around the Idle Valley Rural Learning Centre, recently emerged and already defoliating some nearby young Alders.

This is the most easterly Nottinghamshire record we know of, and we would expect them to be in nearby Retford. Agelastica alni had previously been recorded from five Nottinghamshire sites. All but one of these (Dyscarr Wood) were former Colliery sites and all are in the north-west of the county around Mansfield and Worksop. 

Nottinghamshire's first record was from Dyscarr Wood, when it was found and photographed by Pauline Bradford on June 11th 2014.

 
 
Some recent records from Besthorpe GP

We visited the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust's Besthorpe nature reserve, just north of Newark on the River Trent on a sunny but windy day in late March.

A few interesting species were found, including the impressive ground beetle Carabus granulatus (Linnaeus, 1758), while checking the fruiting bodies of the fungus Daldinia concentrica (more often known as King Alfred's Cakes), provided us with the beetles Platyrhinus resinosus (Scopoli, 1763) and Biphyllus lunatus (Fabricius, 1787).

Of special note, were several larval cases of Luffia ferchaultella (Stephens, 1850) found on an old gate post in the reserve's small car park. Luffia ferchaultella is a wingless, self-fertile Psychid moth and this record is the first from a site east of the River Trent. There are several known sites for this moth in Nottinghamshire, most of which are in urban areas.

 
First Oil Beetles already out on Budby South Forest

Chloe Ryder of the RSPB reports that two Black Oil Beetles (Meloe proscarabaeus) were already active on February 23rd. This is the earliest date we know of since they were found back in 2011, beating last year's early date of February 28th, by some five days.

The rediscovery of the Oil Beetle in Nottinghamshire for the first time in over a 100 years, provided the chance to monitor the colony over successive years. The discovery by Adrian Dutton and his wife in 2011, was followed a couple of years later by the discovery of a second colony in the grounds of Newstead Abbey in 2013. Both colonies have continued to survive, but there must surely be other colonies elsewhere.

 
Melogona scutellaris in a Mapperley garden

In late February we recorded several examples of the Millipede Melogona scutellaris (Ribaut, 1913) from under long-standing rockery stones in a Mapperley garden.

There are records from most parts of the UK, but Melogona scutellaris is predominantly a species of northern and western counties and it was surprisingly unknown in Nottinghamshire, despite being known from Leicestershire (The Millipedes of Leicestershire and Rutland, Daws, J. and Ikin, H.)

Melogona scutellaris is a typical Millipede of synanthropic habitats (associated with human activity, buildings and gardens etc) and should likely be present at other locations in the county. The same mature garden has produced other records of similarly scarce county Millipedes in recent years, showing that suburban gardens can be excellent sources of invertebrate records.

 
 
Choneiulus palmatus recorded from the grounds of Nottingham City Hospital

The increased interest in the county's Myriapods and Isopods over the past few years, continues to provide interesting records during the early months of each year, when records from other invertebrate orders are few.

Although the identification of some species can be difficult, their often synanthropic habits tend to make them easily accessible in seemingly unlikely locations deep within our towns and cities.

In February, we took several specimens of what turned out to be Choneiulus palmatus (Nemec, 1895), from under a large stone, lying on top of bark chippings at the old north entrance of Nottingham's City Hospital. Choneiulus palmatus is a difficult Millipede to identify to species level and almost impossible to separate from Proteroiulus fuscus and Nopoiulus kochii without the aid of a microscope. Its very much a Millipede of buildings and urban sites and a surprise second Nottinghamshire record, following a record from Church Warsop in March 2015.

 
  Aphanus rolandri in Nottinghamshire

Aphanus rolandri (Linnaeus, 1758) is a large, black Ground Bug (Lygaeidae) with a distinctive red or orange spot at the base of the wing membrane, making it almost unmistakable and with no real confusion species.

Previously unknown from Nottinghamshire, the one that turned up in our Market Warsop garden on a mild afternoon in mid-February 2017, was soon confirmed by Dave Budworth and Jim Flanagan, as being a new species for Nottinghamshire and probably the most (reliable) northerly UK record to date.

A. rolandri is known to occur on dry, well-drained sites, such as chalk pits, cliffsides and has been known from cultivated fields. Found predominantly in the south-east of the UK, there are a scattering of records from Midland counties.

 
A new site for the Woodlouse Trichoniscoides albidus in Nottinghamshire

Trichoniscoides albidus (Budde-Lund, 1880) is a small Woodlouse, similar in appearance to Trichoniscus pusillus (Brandt, 1833) and usually found under stones in wet/damp locations. It was only discovered new to Nottinghamshire in January 2016, when found at two sites on the River Trent at Farndon near Newark by Derek Whiteley.

In early February 2017, we found it in good numbers under large items of flood refuse at Stoke Bardolph. Trichoniscoides albidus is likely to be common along many river courses throughout Nottinghamshire, but especially along the Trent Valley.

 
A second Nottinghamshire record of the Millipede Chordeuma proximum

Not having had much chance to get out this Winter, we managed a walk up Clipstone Old Quarter near Edwinstowe on January 22nd. On reaching the limit of our walk, we stopped to look underneath a large section of branch which fell off the Centre Tree a number of years ago.

Despite the frost we found three active Millipedes, one of which was male and later confirmed as being Chordeuma proximum (Ribaut, 1913) a species we had recorded as new to Nottinghamshire (VC56) at King's Clipstone in January 2015. This Millipede must be fairly widespread in the Sherwood Forest area and this record also represents a new species for the Sherwood Forest NNR.

 
A recent record of the bark beetle Cicones undatus (Colydiidae) in Nottinghamshire

Assistant reserve manager Tim Sexton, reports he recently recorded the bark beetle Cicones undatus (Colydiidae) at Attenborough Nature Reserve.

The January record seemed to be unusual and at first was believed to be a new species for the county, but it seems the beetle was recorded at Stoke Bardolph back in 2004 by Adrian Dutton. Cicones undatus (Gurin-Mneville, 1835) is a small (2.5-3.5mm) beetle and several were found under bark at Attenborough NR by Tim in January 2017.

A relatively recent colonist of the UK, it was discovered at Windsor Great Park in 1984 and has since been recorded from other south-eastern counties. It is believed to be associated with Sooty Bark Disease of Sycamores, caused by the fungus Cryptostroma corticale.

 
 
 
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