Saturday 27 December 2008

Chinese Entomology Congress Stamp 4

Dragonfly (Odonata): Sympetrum croceolum

Friday 26 December 2008

Chinese Entomology Congress Stamp 3

Ladybird (= ladybug [USA] ): Coccinella septempunctata

Thursday 25 December 2008

Chinese Entomology Congress Stamp 2

Lacewing (Neuroptera): Chrysopa septempunctata

Merry Christmas

Wednesday 24 December 2008

Chinese Entomology Congress Stamp 1

Praying mantid: Tenodera aridifolia sinensis

Aleuropoda insignis nymph

When freshly moulted cockroach nymphs tend to be very pale. This nymph of Aleruropoda insignis has just moulted and will retuen to normal colouration over a few hours - it is not an albino.

Monday 22 December 2008

Plankton Photograqphs

Head over to Zooillogix to see more!

Monday 24 November 2008

Some Beetle Links

Be Careful With Mushrooms, says Fortey

Trilobite expert and historian of the Natural History Museum, Richard Fortey, urges caution to mushroom collectors. Original article form the Telegraph.

"Lost" Mammal Species Rediscovered

One from October:

The first ever photograph of a live Sumatran muntjac.

..and recently:

The pygmy tarsier, thought to be extinct for 80 years.

Ambitious Identification Project

This is a story from a while back (I'm spending some time blogging about things I bookmarked to blog about ages ago). It gives a good summary of the situation.

Ugly Overload

Head over to Ugly Overload for some basic information about these Horsehair worms and how they make their host insect drown itself. Nature isn't always sweet.....

Some QuickLinks

From YouTube:


I have just put this blog through Typealyzer, and this is what it has to say about me:

"The active and play-ful type. They are especially attuned to people and things around them and often full of energy, talking, joking and engaging in physical out-door activities.

The Doers are happiest with action-filled work which craves their full attention and focus. They might be very impulsive and more keen on starting something new than following it through. They might have a problem with sitting still or remaining inactive for any period of time."

Locust Swarm Video

From National Geographic. I can't embed it - but go and take a look!

Bug Quiz

I tend to mourn regularly the lack of questions on insects in our local Pub Quiz (yes, the website is terrible, the pub's not so bad). This seems to be a lot more interesting!

Invasive Cockroaches

Florida Pest Pro
University of Florida News

Phil Koehler and Roberto Pereira of the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences have an article in Florida Pest Pro alerting people to the fact that several new species of cockroach may invade Florida. They are particularly concerned aboput the 'Turkestan cockroach' which has already been introduced into the southern United States by miliatry personnel returning form the Middle East.

Koehlern is also concerned that Madagascan hissing cockroaches may also become naturalised.

One statistic from the UF news article is quite telling: "We have 69 species of cockroaches in the United States and 29 of them were bought in from other countries".

One possible threat comes from people rearing exotic cockroaches as pets os a s food for reptiles and amphibians. In the San Diego area the stick insect Carausius morosus has naturalised.

Tuesday 18 November 2008

Phasmid on Dutch TV

"A nervous Suzanne De Jong arrived yesterday at Innisfail's Australian Insect Farm, near Cairns, where a 35cm giant walker stick insect, three giant burrowing cockroaches and a 16cm spiny leaf insect awaited."

Link here.

Wednesday 12 November 2008

Not an invert.....

...but still a really good photo! Originally posted here.

Tuesday 11 November 2008

The Entomological Bucket

This report from the Daily Telegraph seems to imply that the humble bucket is the storage tool of preference for entomologists before they resort to the more standard pin and drawer.

"Scientists have also discovered at least three new species hidden among Mr Cadiou's specimen trays and buckets."

Bored Octopus

It seems that Otto the octopus gets bored during the Winter season, when his aquarium is closed during the week and he can no longer entertain himself my splashing water at visitors. Instead he "juggled the hermit crabs in his aquarium, threw rocks at the aquarium glass, confiscated scrubbers with which we tried to clean his exhibit from the inside and decided not to give them back and finally we found him sitting on the edge of his exhibit shooting water at the lights which caused the constant power cuts".

Is Otto a teenager?

To Save A Mockingbird

Head over here and give them some of your hard-earned money. It's a worthy cause.

Thursday 16 October 2008

World's Longest Insect Revealed

Today Dr Phil Bragg (a member of the Phasmid Study Group) described a new species of stick insect (Phobaeticus chani)in the Journal Zootaxa that beats the previous record (Phobaeticus kirbyi) that has stood for over 100 years.

I hope to get some photographs for here really soon, but for those of you who can get there it is currently on display in the Creepy Crawlies gallery at the Natural History Museum, London. After this it will be returned to the main collections where it can be studied by scientists from around the world.

Tuesday 7 October 2008

Cockroach Studies

I have been working on the next issue of the Blattodea Culture Group's journal, and now have all of the articles that will make up Issue 3. Editing, etc. should be completed in the next week.

Phasmid Study Group Newsletter

UK members should by now have received the latest Phasmid Study Group Newsletter (No.115 September 2008), if anybody hasn't then please get in touch! Members outside the UK should get it in the next few weeks.

A Grasshopper from Cypruss

Click to enlarge photo. Copyright John Randall.

This came to me via the Phasmid Study Group website, while it is not actually a phasmid (stick insect) it is a closely related insect, a grasshopper (Acridinae). The species was identified as Truxalis nasuta (Linnaeus) by Judith Marshall (NHM). The speciemn shown is from Cyprus, the species has a circum-Mediterranean distribution.

Chrysolina americana (Rosemary Beetle)

Photo Copyright Royal Horticultural Society

Despite the name Chrysolina americana this species is native to Southern Europe, and has been recently introduced into the UK, where it can be a minor pest of Lavender and Rosemary plants. The Royal Horticultural Society has a page about this beetle that has lots of useful information.

I have seen this beetle in the vicinity of Clapham South London Undergorund station , and outside of Darwin Centre phas 1, Natural History Museum, London.

Scaly Cricket in Devon, UK

The Scaly Cricket has been found on the Devon beach where the MSC Napoli was deliberately beached. It seems that they are attracted to traps baited with Cornish pasties.

See the BBC article here.

Friday 3 October 2008

An advert.... of sorts

Go here and give some of your money to something very worthwhile!

Wednesday 24 September 2008

Small Tortoisehsell woes

It seems that an entire year has gone past without me seeing one of these in the garden (or any friend's garden). The numbers in these parts have been going down, but not particularly quickly, and I am rather surprised that I have miseed this species altogether this year. On the plus side I have seen more of other species, including the Peacock that I have previously never seen in the garden, although I have seen it regulalrly locally.

Thursday 18 September 2008

Albino cockroach

I like visiting places such as DeviantArt to look at photographs other people have taken of various invertebrates. Generally the quality is quite inspiring - but the content is often titles or labelled in a way that causes error - or propagates confusion.

The photo below shows a cockroach that has just moulted, and has yet to return to its normal colouration.

I pointed this out to Mr ~HairyEyeBall who went on to say that this is how the exhibit he photographed them in labelled them. Mr ~HairyEyeBall has since hidden these comments from the photograph here. Admitting your wrong is something we should all do from time to time!

Brahmaea hearseyi

Some Brahmaea hearseyi caterpillars that I received recently - feeding on privet (Ligustrum sp.). Will keep you updated on their progress!

Friday 12 September 2008

Coastal Clean-up

On the 20th September go to your local beach and do some cleaning! It might even be sunny!

Tuesday 9 September 2008

Necroscia annulipes

I received a pair of this species today from Allan Harman, certainly one of the most attractive species of phasmid, with brilliant pink wings. The next Phasmid Study Group newsletter will list them as PSG290.

Thursday 28 August 2008

Camel Spider Hysteria

Today's Metro features an article about a Camel Spider that apparently lives in somebody's house and killed their dog. This is a good example of how poor journalist coverage of science topics can be. First of all, Camel Spiders aren't spiders, they belong to a different order of arachnids, the Solifugae (Latin, to flee from the sun). Stories of these arachnids chasing humans are due to the fact that they want to stay in their shadow!

Camel Spiders are not venomous, and normal prey includes other invertebrates and small lizards.

Wednesday 27 August 2008

Some Bug Art

This is taken from the Rogue Entomologist, the website of artist Judith Klausner. There are also some depictions of beheading featuring mantids.

New Species Found in eBay Amber

A new species of aphid, Mindarus harringtoni, has been found in a piece of amber purchased form the auctions website eBay.

Before you all go off and buy as much amber as you can from the site though, remember that there are a lot of fakes for sale there too.

Read the BBC article here.

Tuesday 26 August 2008

New to Britain snails found in Cliveden House

If you thought that Cliveden House was most famous for orgies involving Noel Coward or that infamous scene in Scandal then think again!

The centimetre long Mediterranean snail Papillifera papillaris has been found, that could have lived unnoticed for 100 years.

The BBC report is here.

My local paper picked up on this story, and made a few mistakes - for most people they probably wouldn't be a huge issue, but they annoy me! Will comment on them very soon.

Some excellent photos

I found this over at Zooillogix, original photos by Martin Amm are here.

Wednesday 16 July 2008

Megacrania tsudai

Megacrania tsudai
Originally uploaded by =spurdog=
I have recently done some work in order that the Phasmid Study Group website can display the information it contains much more neatly.

You can see this by going there, browsing to a stick insect taxon of your choice using the 'Species' taxonomy on the right, and clicking the little blue cross next to it.

It also now gets content from other sites, including the Biodiversity Heritage Library, Google Scholar and flickr. As a first test I clicked the blue cross next to 'Phasmida' and found this fantastic looking species of Megacrania!

Friday 27 June 2008

Rose Chafer (Cetonia aurata)

A rose chafer from my garden, I have seen a number of live individuals this year, more so than in previous years. I have also seen a large number in the nearby Windsor Great Park.

Tuesday 3 June 2008

A Couple of Videos

The first features (very briefly) a friend from my Imperial days, the second features a rather large beetle from Costa Rica, that somehow managed to travel with bananas to London and survive.

Click on the images to go to the original videos.

Thursday 29 May 2008

Isle of Wight Zoo Bees

Isle of Wight Zoo Lemurs

Ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta) playing with a football at the Isle of Wight Zoo.

Friday 16 May 2008

Banded Demoiselle

Banded Demoiselle, Calopteryx splendens (Harris, 1782), is a well know and familiar damselfly. This adult male was found resting on grass along the banks of the River Thames at Windsor. Useful things to note are the metallc blue wing veins and the coloured band on the wings, although this is variable. Females are metallic green, with metallic green wing veins and no banding on the wings, although again these may vary!

The Duck Family

Mallard ducks, Anas platyrhynchos, sitting on some steps to the River Thames in Windsor town centre.

Monday 12 May 2008

Spider named in honour of Neil Youg

This recently discovered trapdoor spider, Myrmekiaphila neilyoungi, has recently been named in honour of the muscian Neil Young by scientists at the American Museum of Natural History, New York.

You can read the full story here.

Friday 9 May 2008


This was sent to my phone by a friend last night, with a request for identification. It's a cockchafer (Melolontha melolontha), quite well known for being attracted to lighted windows.

On being informed of this identification my friend's initial reaction was "it only wants one thing, and it's not going to get it". I think it's safe to say that despite the name it doesn't actually.....

Some Birds

I know they're not invertebrates, but I thought you might like to see. These were all on the Long Water, Hyde Park towards the end of March this year.

Tufted duck Aythya fuligula (femle and male)

Black-headed gull Larus ridibundus

Coot Fulica atra

Mallard Anas platyrhynchos (female and male)

Tuesday 6 May 2008

Pharnacia ponderosa, mouldy eggs

This mould appeared over the weekend. The eggs of phasmids are pretty tough, and generally survive attacks by mould. In this case the mould is removed by gently rubbing the eggs. Mould can also be controlled by allowing the eggs to dry out for a short period fairly regularly. It is possible to sterilise the surface of various butterfly eggs using dilute sterilisiation solutions, so I may give it a try as a mini-experiment.

Lamponius portoricensis Rehn, 1903

These photographs are of L1 nymphs just hatched from eggs given to me by Allan Harman late last year. I have previously kept Lamponius guerini (Saussure, 1868) (I guess many phasmid-philes have), so am interested to see if there are any interesting differences.