Wednesday, 31 August 2016

30/08/16 - Arctophila superbiens

I decided to do something different today and make brief visits to places that looked like it had good habitat for species we haven't yet recorded, staying at the sites for an hour only. I visited Lletty Brongu Sewage Works, Waun-y-Gilfach and Top Llangynwyd clear-fells. This turned out to be a good idea. I recorded another of the big four in Arctophila superbiens within 10 minutes of leaving the car. In fact I had 2, both males, on the side of the sewage works entrance road. A welcome addition to the valley list [number 108]. At Waun-y-Gilfach I had a Painted Lady Butterfly, which have been quite scarce this year so far. At Top Llangynwyd clear-fells I had 6 Eristalis rupium and these are the furthest south they have been recorded in Great Britain. In total I had 28 species of hoverfly and Top Llangynwyd held large areas of Angelica, which could be good for migrants in September.

 Arctophila superbiens - above and below

 Leucozonia glaucia
 Painted Lady
Large Black Fly - possibly a tachinid, which will take some time to identify.

Monday, 29 August 2016

Garnwen - Plan B

With good weather forecast my plan was to do Garnwen properly, but I forgot it was Bank Holiday and there was only 1 parking spot when I arrived at 1100hrs. Nevertheless I spent a good 5hrs rummaging through the undergrowth despite the crazy looks I got off family parties, who by the look of them were on their annual walk. I recorded 33 species of Hoverfly and had a lifer in Eriozona syrphoides which was my 100th species for the valley, even though the valley list is 107 as Paul has had a few I haven't seen yet. It would not come out in the open and was tucked into the hedge, so photos were poor. Besides that a number of good other species were seen like Baccha elongata, Dasysyrphus albostriatus, Xanthogramma pedissequum, Melangyna umbellatarum, Leucozona laternaria, Xylota sylvarum, Eupeodes luniger, Epistrophe grossulariae and yet more Helophilus trivittatus. Eristalis tenax was the commonest species with 310 logged. I also had some interesting other insects, some of which I managed to photograph.

 Devil's Coach Horse [beetle]- this threw me for a while, as it was very large [1 1/2"], but I found out later that when adults emerge they can't retract their wings under their short elytra for 2 hrs while they dry out. So I caught this one feeding just after it had emerged. Try as I might I can't find any images on the net of Devil's Coach Horse with wings, so this could be a first.
 Harvestman species - caught this one just right, but I don't know anything on this family, so I put it on Irecord. [Mitopus morio]
 Knotgrass - moth Larva [ID'd for me by Paul Parsons]
 possibly Goldenrod Pug moth larva - again ID'd by P. Parsons
 Eriozona syrphoides - the crap photo - can you see what it is yet.
 Lucozona laternaria
 Xanthogramma pedissequum - lacking any features of "stacklebergi"
 Xylota sylvarum
 Cheilosia impressa
Helophilus trivittatus - face shot

Sunday, 28 August 2016


Went for a walk for an hour between showers to see what was about, 20 species of hoverfly but nothing special. But I did get two species of moth rarely seen, both of which have been seen in the valley but nevertheless interesting.

 Adaina microdactyla [Hemp-agrimony Plume]
 Mompha locupletella
 Nabis limbatus [Marsh Damselbug] - new for valley
 Eristalis arbustorum - pair
 Helophilus pendulus
Leucozona glaucia

Friday, 26 August 2016

Blaencaerau Devil's Bit Scabious patch

While walking around 2 days ago, I found a large dense area of Devil's Bit Scabious about 100yds long by 30yds white. All the insect forums foam at the mouth when talking about this plant attracting insects in late summer. So I thought I'd spend 2hrs just sitting and walking round the patch to see what was there. To be perfectly honest I was gobsmacked, with hoverflies on virtually every other flower head. I recorded 32 species of hoverfly with Helophilus hybridus new for me but not the valley, as Paul had one in early July. Eristalis intricarius was abundant with 9 being present, I've only ever seen one in the valley, way back in 2012, so was delighted to get multiple shots of this species. Other good species included Baccha elongata, Platycheirus granditarsus, Eupeodes species which I can't ID from photo but looks like it could be bucculatus, I'll have to get this confirmed as it is very rare, Eristalis rupium, Helophilus trivittatus and Leucozona glaucia. Other insects were well represented in all families. So I'll upload just a few of them.

 Scabious patch just above the Newtown bungalows on the forestry track.
 Eristalis intricarius
 Eristalis rupium
 Helophilus hybridus - the yellow on T3 +T2 is fused diagnostic for this species.
 Eupeodes species - not a good angle, but the underside [sternites] of the abdomen and the hind femur colour are all different in combination in this genus - so corollae, latifasciatus, luniger [common 3] and the rare lapponicus can all be ruled out. Checking Steve Falks on line flickr album on Eupeodes, it matches "bucculatus" perfectly. But whether it will be enough to get past the HRS evaluation is another thing. Also looking at the wing venation from underneath - R4+5 has a strong "bounce" to it towards its end another good "bucculatus pointer". The yellow on top of the abdomen doesn't reach the edge, so rules out corollae definitely.
 Common Carder Bee
 Green Tiger Beetle
 Phasia hemiptera - rather late date for this Tachinid Fly
 Small Skipper - one of ten species of Butterfly around the Scabious.
Patchwork Leaf-cutter Bee

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Other wildlife at Blaencaerau today

Besides 29 species of hoverfly there was a good cross-section of other species present today.

 Slow Worm
 Nicrophorus vespilloides - burying beetle that lays its eggs in this shrew carcass and then bury it
 Red-tailed Bumblebee - seems to be quite scarce this year
 Sloe (hairy) Shieldbug
 Mole carcass - next on the list for the burying beetles, must have drowned during the storms, when its tunnels become flooded quickly.
 Stictoleptura rubra female - again
 Eristalis nemorum - triple stack mating display behaviour. The only species of hoverfly to do this.
Leucozona lucorum - essentially a spring species, but does have a smaller 2nd generation in late summer. Notice how the white on T2 is tinged with orange. First generation lucorum have a pure white T2.

Megasyrphus at Blaencaerau

Following Paul's finding of 1 of the big 4 missing from our list [Eriozona syrphoides]] yesterday at Garnwen. The other 3 being Megasyrphus erratica, Arctophila superbiens and Volucella inanis. I found Megasyrphus erratica on Angelica alongside the forestry at Blaencaerau C.O.P. This species is quite widespread but slightly less common than Eriozona syrphoides. With just the one record for Glamorgan in the east of the county as shown on the map below from NBN Gateway. And is number 107 for the valley.

 Larger than Syrphus species, the key Identification features are the strongly dipped R4+5 vein on the wing, orange rather than pale yellow markings on the abdomen and the black thorax and dark scutellum.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Garnwen - midday

Missed out on the Eriozona syrphoides that Paul Tabor had here earlier today, but still recorded an impressive 33 species for the time of year. Stictoleptura rubra longhorn beetle records have gone crazy this year, as I pass the 50 records mark, previous best was 8 records in 2015. Had 3 male and one female rubra today. Butterflies were scarce today, but did have 2 Common Blue, which were the first for a while, and also 10+ Orange-legged Furrow Bee and a single Field Cuckoo Bee.

 Eristalis tenax
 Helophilus pendulus
 Helophilus trivittatus - having a good year - 6 today - much more lemon in colour than pendulus.
 Myathropa florea - my first Garnwen record strangely - 3 today
 Platycheirus granditarsus - female
 Sphaerophoria scripta - male - only member of this 9 species genus that can be ID'd from photos. In the male the body is longer than the closed wings.
 Volucella pellucens - doing a fair impression of Volucella inflata because of the sunshine/photo angle colours.
Stictoleptura rubra - male [black thorax] - just about to leave in search of a female - there's one 10yds away down the path. I did point :).
Here she is [red thorax].