Thursday, 13 March 2014

Psychoda albipennis

Cleared the Psychoda female from Saturday 8th March in potassium hydroxide for 24 hours and then washed in water.  Transferred to a microscope slide and abdomen removed using mounted needles.  Checked that it was lower surface upwards and then cover slip on top.  Traced it through the key to Psychodidae and keyed easily to Psychoda albipennis.  The shape of the subgenital plate is different from our other species so it should be possible to identify this species again with confidence at reasonably low power using the binocular microscope.  The photos show the whole insect as it would be seen in a water trap sample, the abdomen cleared,  viewed from below and the detail of the subgenital plate under high power.  As an aside saw probably my last redwings of the winter today, a flock of 8 heading northwards.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Spring, reports time and a plethora of insects

Last weekend was the first really spring-like weather.  Walking to church on Sunday was great hearing folk chatting in their gardens, catching up on the jobs and generally happy.  The year's first blackcap was singing away happily.  Back home five species of butterfly were on the wing - small white, peacock, small tortoiseshell, comma and brimstone and there was plenty to look at in the water trap.  There had obviously been a mass emergence of the ephydid fly Hydrellia griseola and there were other species there as well.  It being busy time with report writing at work, time has been squeezed, so the trap has been bought inside for another time. 

I had a key to the whirligig beetles of Britain on the go so that is now published on the website at  Do have a look.  The photographs from the Polish collection are as usual really nice.

So back to reports...

Saturday, 8 March 2014

More Chrysomelid keys (leaf beetles)

Rather than put out the water trap for the last few days I've been concentrating on getting some more of the beetle keys into a publishable state.  You will now find there are keys to genera of all the subfamilies of Chrysomelidae (leaf beetles) at  The key to subfamilies has been updated to take account of genus Phratora which would have keyed into the wrong subfamily.  I have also completed keys to the British species of subfamilies Bruchinae, Cassidinae and Donaciinae.  The keys to species of subfamilies Chrysomelinae and Galerucinae are still very much works in progress.  In the Chrysomelinae, the sticky genus is Chrysolina which is unsatisfactory in Joy's Handbook but the translation from the German key is leading to some problems in interpretation that I really need to examine museum material to unravel.  The Galerucinae is such a large subfamily that it will be some time before I complete it.  Tribe Galerucini is done and is now on the website along with the large genus Longitarsus from tribe Alticini.  You will have to wait for the rest I'm afraid.

If you use the keys please send me feedback as I'm keen to improve them so they are a useful tool for British entomologists.

Here's a picture of a female of genus Psychoda caught today.  In order to get it to species I need to examine the subgenital plate at high power so it is popped into the potassium hydroxide for 24 hours and then I'll update the ID.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Longitarsus luridus

After working on translating the key to genus Longitarsus to identify all the British species, it turns out that the species I had collected earlier in the week was the commonest one in the country.  Still the world now has a reasonable illustrated key to the British species of the genus at It does seem that host plant is going to be very important in the identification and I hope to do some targeted collection to increase my familiarity with the genus.