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Macro Outing 20/05/2012

Published May 22nd, 2012

Another insect-based blog post. Expect more of these as the weather continues warming up.

Most of my identifications are done from a variety of web sources. If any of my information is wrong then I'm happy to be corrected. As well as hopefully offering some interesting information (if you're into insects), these blog posts are serving as excellent learning tools for me.


Empis tessellata

Or "dance" fly. This is the largest Empis species in Britain. They feed on nectar, but also prey on smaller insects, using their proboscis to pierce the body of the victim.

The male of this species - and also of Empis Opaca - will offer a gift of a dead insect to the female before mating. The female won't mate unless a gift is received.


Cantharis pellucida

A species of soldier beetle. These are common as muck in the UK, though the species with black wing casings seem less common than those with orange/red, such as rhagonycha fulva.

They prey on smaller insects, and are popular with gardeners, as they tend to keep the aphid population down. You can't fail to spot these in the height of summer. They are generally all over the flower heads of cow parsley, and similar woodland/meadow plants.


Cercopis vulnerata

Black and red froghopper. Very easy to spot, as you can imagine. The black and red markings warn predators that they don't make good eating.

Unlike other froghopper species, whose larvae feed on plant sap, and produce "cuckoo spit", the larvae of this one feeds on plant roots. The adult on sap from plant stems.

They hop energetically away when disturbed, hence the name.


Anthocharis cardamines

Orange tip. This one doesn't have the distinctive orange wing tips, which tells us it's a female. Also the fact that it is perched very sedentarily, as opposed to flitting around maniacally, looking for a female to mate with.

The larvae of this species is cannibalistic, so the female will lay eggs singly on a suitable plant stalk, after testing its suitability by tasting it with her feet.

  • May 20th, 2012
  • Canon EOS 50D
  • 70mm / f/13 / 1/200 sec

Baetis vernus

A mayfly. I enjoyed identifying this one. Unlike other insects, mayflies have two winged lifestages. First as a "dun", and secondly as a "spinner". This one is a male spinner.

They live a particularly brief adult life, after spending a year underwater as a nymph, their only real purpose being to mate before they die. They don't have functioning mouthparts, so food is one less distraction.



Hydrothassa marginella

I spent all day trying to identify this little leaf beetle. Eventually I decided to ask for advice on, and got the answer almost immediately.

The larvae feed on members of the buttercup family, so that is where it is usually found. It is apparently quite common, but as far as I'm aware this is the first one I've ever seen. Certainly the first I've photographed.

  • May 20th, 2012
  • Canon EOS 50D
  • 135mm / f/14 / 1/200 sec

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