The Insects are Here!
by Simon Knight
In my last post I said I was going after young grasshoppers and crickets.
As a result, I have spent most of my time looking down and have discovered that there are many in the park now, but due to their small size they are quite difficult to find. So far, I have found more Roesel’s Bush crickets (above) than young grasshoppers.
Meadow grasshopper nymph (Chorthippus parallelus)
Grasshoppers and crickets hatch from eggs and go through incomplete metamorphosis. This means that they don’t pupate but go through multiple moults before they become adults. After each moult, they look a lot like an adult, but with a few changes from the previous state. Moulting occurs five or six times before adulthood. After the last moult, they are adults and can reproduce, and most species also get their wings when they become adults. You can clearly see in both pictures that this young Roesel’s Bush cricket and the Meadow grasshopper are yet to develop their wings.
Whilst spending time looking down, you often discover insect life pretty much everywhere. And during one session, I stumbled across this rather striking Golden-bloomed Grey Longhorn beetle. This was a first for me and this beetle made for a rather obliging subject, unlike the normally jumpy crickets and grasshoppers!
Golden-bloomed Grey Longhorn beetle (Agapanthia villosoviridescens)
Taking time out from looking down, I have also spent some time watching the dragonflies. Male Broad-bodied chasers can be seen working the margins of the pond, often engaging in a little aerial combat. I have seen three at the pond at the same time as well as Azure Damselflies and Beautiful Demoiselles.
Broad bodied chaser male (Libellula depressa)
I even managed to leave the park with an insect stowaway one day! I arrived home one morning to find that I had a tick on me. I hate ticks and I do seem to be a bit of a magnet for them. It was carefully removed, ensuring that no mouth parts were left in me and then the area cleaned with an alcohol wipe. This is the first tick that I have got in the park, so I was quite surprised to find this passenger on me. But I wasn’t an isolated case. Just this past weekend I was talking to another park regular who told me that she had recently found one on her dog. If you do find one on you it is vitally important that it is removed correctly, as they do carry diseases. I would advise that you check yourself all over when you get home and seek medical advice if you are unsure how to remove them.
Header picture: Roesel’s bush cricket nymph (Roeseliana roeselii) by Simon Knight
Beautiful pictures, Simon. I think the longhorn beetle is a new species for the reserve; email its mugshot to Ian so that he can add it to our invertebrate list.