It’s that time of year again when we dusty pale-skinned curators are lead blinking and shivering reptile-like from our gloomy and chilly collections and out in to the wilderness once more to collect yet more beetles to add to our beloved collections.
So armed with plenty of sun cream (the sun did actually shine on this day, really, true story!) and insect repellent and hay fever tablets, and… we headed off to Bookham Common where we and many other collectors and natural historians have collected for over 50 years.
This is what beetle collectors generally look like: disparate (not desperate - well, maybe a bit...), a bit scruffy and well, a little bit weird; from left to right:
Alex Greenslade, Beulah Garner, Emeline Favreau, Roger Booth, Christine Taylor and Malcolm Kerley
Not ones for the spotlight, we soon lose interest in all this posing...but hang on a minute, what's this Roger has caught in his sweep net...?
Whilst our trusty coleopterists are so easily distracted, Emeline seizes the moment...; and as for Malcolm, well he's still posing!
Oh but wait, even Emeline's dastardly plan is foiled by the excellent collecting skills of Roger Booth, who at this very moment has found Meligethes matronalis! Yes, really! Meligethes matronalis Audisio & Spornraft, 1990, whose larvae are meant to develop solely on Hesperis matronalis - Dame's Violet, although adults can be found on the flowers of other plants; a new record for Bookham Common.
And finally, as punishment for Emeline's insubordinance...we made her carry all the collecting equipment...Ha!
With easy access from London it is no surprise that it is so well recorded and continues to be the case. The ‘Bookham Common List’ is almost a benchmark for invertebrate diversity and a tribute to this incredible habitat-diverse and well managed sight. It is really interesting to look back at the list over the years to see the ebb and flow of species; what once was scarce is now abundant, some species have not been recorded there for decades, others are making a come-back and most importantly, we are finding new records all the time! For such a well recorded sight this is quite remarkable and paints a healthy picture of species diversity down in leafy Surrey! It also importantly highlights the need for us to continue to collect and record the amazing natural history we have here in the UK…there’s always some thing new to discover…
Talking of new discoveries, here's Malcolm with a caterpillar (not a beetle!) he has identified as a Brindled Green Moth Dryobotodes eremita Fabricius. A species of Noctuid common on the old oak trees of Bookham Common.
Here is Max Barclay (or as he is better known to the Elves, Ents, Goblins and Fairies of Bookham Common woods, 'Gandalph' with his magic beetling wand)...
See that ray of light? That's no accident; it is actual beetle magic...
As this image clearly illustrates, Max is also a fully qualified and indeed skilled aboroculturalist (Look! No hands!).
And here is Max's trusty assistant, Francisca, changing the Lindgrun funnel traps
The hunters (Christine, Beulah and Roger) become the hunted...watched undisturbed from a camouflaged viewpoint the coleopterists go about their business...
Beautifully synchronised grubbing about in the mud (for Bembidion beetles who love a bit a of mud!); and yes ,we may well have been humming the 'Hokey-Kokey'.
Talking of mud; an occupational hazard when searching for water beetles...
...as Julien Haran manfully demonstrates.
Entomologists don't always get along; and what better way to settle differences than to literally thrash it out. Molly and Alex beating about the bush...
Some stylish (?) entomologists! Alex and Molly have made up with the help of Julienne, Hui Erh and Limin!
Some friendly entomologists with National Trust Bookham Warden Ian Swinney, Bookham Coleoptera Recorder Stuart Coles, Alex, Emeline and Katie
From a couple of days collecting we already have an impressive list of interesting species; here are the highlights:
Cerambycidae – Longhorn beetles
Grammoptera ustulata: Lepturinae
Collected by Roger Booth: New record for Bookham
Found April – July; this beetles’ larvae is associated with deciduous trees such as oak and the fungus that grows on them, Vuilleminia comedens
For images go to the Encyclopaedia of Life (EOL) page: http://eol.org/pages/348333/overview
Agapanthia villosoviridescens: Lamiinae
Collected by Tristan Bantock: New record for Bookham
Adults found May – June in wet meadows and hedgerows feeding on Umbellifers and nettle
Rutpela maculata (locally common) and an early record for Bookham. This can be found from May through to August with adults living between two to four weeks. larvae live in the decaying wood of species such as Oak, Beech and Birch.
Museum specimen of Rutpela maculata
Eucnemidae – False click beetles
Melasis buprestoides: one in flight near Merritt's Cottage: New record for Bookham (apparently a new family).
For more information on this beetle follow the link below:
Chrysomelidae – Leaf beetles
Bruchidius villosus: from broom in Merritt's Cottage Garden; first post-1950 record.
Go to EOL for more inofrmation on this species:
Lymexylidae – Ship timber beetles!
Hyloceotes dermestoides; one in flight on main path; 2nd record for the common (one collected by Ian Menzies in 2007)
Adults are short lived, seen on the wing for a few days from May to July; larvae feed on the fungus Endomyces hylecoeti in the heartwood of trees such as Oak and Pine.
Elateridae – Click beetles
Selatosomus bipustulatus: Nationally scarce; new to Bookham
Colydiidae – Cylindrical bark beetles
Pycnomerus fuliginosus (naturalised); new to Bookham.
To see this species follow the link to the NHM's Beetles and Bugs Flickr photstream:
Dermestidae – Dermestid beetles
Megatoma undata: Nationally scarce: last Bookham record, 1941 by A.M. Easton
For more information go to EOL:
That's about it for now...
Miss Blonde, Mr Blue, Mr Brown, Miss Pink...'Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am suck in the forest with you...'
And finally, I leave you with this thought, 'how far would you go in the name of entomology?'
In pursuit of Meligethes, Roger Booth was last seen being swallowed by the notorious caniverous plant Umbelliferus carnivorus; sadly there was no one around to heed his screams; as we'd all gone down the pub...