Another leafhopper…

On the 13th I came across another species of leafhopper (Cicadellidae) whilst inspecting the moth trap, and following my recording of Acericerus heydenii (possibly the first ever record for VC61), I have been keeping an eye out for more of these fascinating little bugs. Eventually I was able to identify the species that I had found on the outside of the Skinner trap as a male Metidiocerus rutilans (with thanks to Tristan Bantock for confirmation), another under-recorded species with perhaps just a single previous record here in the East Riding of Yorkshire (VC61).

The species is primarily associated with Sallows in the southern half of Britain but is known to winter on pines, the most likely source of the species here at Woldgarth as Sallow does not occur within the garden or within the neighbouring woodland. The record was also fairly early for this species, most records coming between April and November, but given the recent, indeed almost April-like weather, the early record is perhaps not that unexpected.

For me one of the great things about moth-trapping is that you never know what else might turn up when you take the time to check the trap thoroughly, the richness of the natural world always bringing something new to admire and enjoy 🙂

…and other invertebrates

The warm and almost April like weather which we enjoyed earlier in the month also brought a host of other insects and other invertebrates to the garden, including the first butterflies of the year and a great diversity of bees and hoverflies. The first butterfly was noted on the 7th, a lovely Comma (Polygonia c-album) sunning itself on the ivy covered south-facing wall having the honour of being the first flutterby of the year, whilst the first Peacock (Aglais io) was recorded on the 15th. Bumblebees have also continued to appear since the first Buff-tailed BB (Bombus terrestris) was recorded back in February, with Tree Bees (B. hypnorum) proving particularly abundant from the 9th onwards. The rise and rise of this relatively new incomer looks set to continue in 2017. Other species seen recently have included at least one White-tailed BB (B. lucorum) and a few male Hairy-footed Flower-bees (Anthophora plumipes), the first confirmed record of both these species coming on the 15th.

Hoverflies have also appeared in great diversity in the past couple of weeks, the two species seen in February (Meliscaeva auricollis & Eristalis tenax) being joined by two more (at least) in the shape and form of Marmalade Hoverfly (Episyrphus balteatus) and Tapered Dronefly (Eristalis pertinax). On the beetle side of things large numbers of Harlequin Ladybirds (Harmonia axyridis) have dominated sightings, indeed I still haven’t found any ‘native’ ladybirds in the garden this spring, whilst a species of Flea Beetle was also seen in large numbers on a few of the garden plants. On the 13th the first Common Flowerbug (Anthocoris nemorum) of the year was encountered on the outside of the Stevenson screen, with a few more observations of this attractive and abundant bug since then.

Finally the Wolf spider species (Lycosidae) which occurs in large numbers in the gravel driveway and around the sun-baked front aspect of the house are now widely apparent when the sun does indeed shine, the excellent eyesight and the turn of speed that this species possesses always making them a challenging photographic subject. This same part of the house has also brought sightings of several, and clearly individually distinct, Zebra Spiders (Salticus scenicus), though interestingly every single specimen I have seen so far has been female. I wonder what the rest of March will bring ?

…this little fellow is also happy to see the invertebrates back again 🙂

Acericerus heydenii

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).

? Acericerus heydenii ?
Acericerus heydenii

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).

This entry was posted on January 21, 2017, in Bugs.