On Thursday evening I discovered a species of Leafhopper (Cicadellidae) on the outside of the rabbit shed, the relatively large specimen conspicuously located just above the door as I went out to give the rabbits their evening dinner. Thankfully the shed also hosts much of my moth-ing and beetle collecting equipment, and I was therefore able to collect the species with one of my specimen jars before it had the chance to escape. After photographing it I set about trying to identify the species, by no means an easy task, though the fact that our garden and the immediate area is lacking both Poplar and Willow did at least help to narrow it down to the Acer loving species (both Sycamores & Field Maples are abundant around here, including some rather large and mature specimens).
Initial research was pointing towards Acericerus vittifrons (or Idiocerus vittifrons) but the more I studied the bug in question I wasn’t totally convinced, many of the key features of this species not quite fitting what I was seeing. However the most crucial feature was actually the size, the bug in question measuring at the very least 6.5 mm, whilst A. vittifrons is just 5-6 mm in size, much too small. However I then discovered a Dutch website which listed a few species which were not listed elsewhere, and it was here I stumbled upon Acericerus heydenii. Every-thing seemed to fit, including size, and I therefore went on twitter to try and seek confirmation of my suspicion, Tristan Bantock (link) kindly confirming that it was indeed A. heydenii, and a male specimen to boot. At this point I would like to thank Tristan for his assistance and knowledge, and indeed all those that helped to point me in the right direction.
This species of leafhopper is actually a relatively new arrival to the British Isles, the first records coming from a few sites in Southern England during 2010 (link). Unlike many new additions to the British List which have been accidentally introduced to the country in recent times, it would seem that A. heydenii probably arrived by its own means, so to speak, from the near continent. However since leafhoppers are very much an under-studied group it could be that the species is more widespread than the current data possibly suggests, though as far as I can find out the specimen found yesterday in our East Yorkshire garden is perhaps one of the most northerly yet, and may well be the first ever record for VC61 (subject to confirmation).