Sunday, 30 October 2016

keys updated

The new edition of The Coleopterist arrived yesterday and this as usual gave reports of beetle species new to Britain. These were in families Staphylinidae, Chrysomelidae and Laemophloeidae.  These species have now bwen added to the relevant keys and published on the website.  Hopefully this should enable other workers to identify these species so an assessment of their level pf establishment in the UK can be made.

Friday, 28 October 2016

Value of the extra pixils

Came across a ground beetle in an empty food storage box in the kitchen a couple of weeks ago - no idea how it had got there.  Using my carabid to genus key it came to genus Bradycellus.  I could see the shape of the mentum (a rectangular structure under the head forming a lower lip for the mouth-parts) with the microscope so I thought I'd try to photograph it.  I was disappointed with the result using my Canon EOS 40D with a MP-E 65 mm macro lens at full zoom - it didn't seem to resolve the detail or in particular show the tooth at the front edge of the mentum.  I knew the camera was 6 megapixils so wondered what increasing that would do.  So off to the camera shop and return with an 18 megapixil Canon EOS 100D and me oh my what a difference.

The image on the left shows the 6MP version and that on the right the 18MP one.  It is much clearer on my computer of course as the image has lost resolution dropping it here.  I can see the microscopic surface texture of the underside of the head and prosternum and the mentum (the structure between the base of the antennae) is much clearer including the tiny central tooth.  I've placed two other photos of the beetle in my Bradycellus key online.

To the mystery of how it ended up in a kitchen storage box.  The beetle keys to Bradycellus verbasci, a common species with over 1600 records on the National Biodiversity Network site including our grid square.  My notes say that it is attracted to light so it must have come inside during the late summer and accidentally got stuck in the cupboard.

Monday, 9 May 2016

Myosurus minimus at last

I have tried to find the mousetail (Myosurus minimus) on two occasions so far.  Last year I tried a location near Hartley Wintney and couldn't find it.  This year I tried a known site near Plastow Green but may have been too early.

On a walk with the grandchildren from North Warnborough to Odiham along the canal and back on a footpath across the fields we came across a water trough in the middle of an area of pasture which had been well trodden by cattle the previous autumn.  I had walked through this field last summer and had considered it suitable habitat for the mousetail.  I was delighted to find not one but hundreds of plants in an area about 15 metres by 15 metres. Although inconspicuous, once you got your eye in the grandchildren were well able to spot the plants.

Myosurus minimus near North Warnborough

My granddaughter also spotted a bug crossing the path which turned out to be the first time I'd seen a member of family Cydnidae.  Identification to family is straightforward with the spines along the legs. I decided to produce a key for this family which is now published here  The species was one of the commoner ones in the family, Legnotus limbosus, associated with bedstraws. The closest of these was in the nearby hedge.

Legnotus limbosus

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Key to the British species of Malachiidae (Coleoptera) published

Uploaded a key to the British species of the malachite beetles (Malachiidae) today, translated from the German and made specific to the British fauna.  It is published here:  There are a few very common species in this family but many rare ones.  Most of the species are illustrated but if you have a photograph of any that are missing and are happy for me to include them then please let me know.  If you use the key please let me know if you have suggestions for improvements or if you find anything that doesn't work properly etc. Contact me on (obviously the AT is an @)

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Keys to Cantharidae and Ptiliidae

I've recently improved the keys to Cantharidae and posted them on the website at Using these you should be able to have a go at identifying any British species in the male sex. The species of one of the genera (Malthodes) are very similar but have very good characters in males.  

I have also made adjustments to the key to Chrysomelinae to accommodate Paropsisterna selmani - a pest of Eucalyptus which has fairly recently been found in Great Britain.

The members of family Ptiliidae are mostly very small and include our smallest species, the recently discovered Baranowskiella ehnstromi.  The key posted at should allow you to get some way with identification but you will certainly need a good microscope with good lighting.  Happy identifying and do let me know how you get on - positive or negative points.  

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Staphylinidae workshop

Went today to Dinton Pastures to study Staphylinidae with like-minded coleopterists and general entomologists wanting to get to grips with a challenging group.  Studying specimens and comments made in the introduction to the day have resulted in a couple of amendments to the Staphylinidae keys on the website which are indicated by today's date. 

Peter Hodge kindly drew my attention to an error in the Cryptocephalinae key (Chrysomelidae) in that I had illustrated a couplet 8 under Cryptocephalus showing colour forms that only occurred on the continent.  This has now been amended with a new version published and illustrations of the male aedeagus included which are an important feature in separating Cryptocephalus bipunctatus and C. biguttatus

At the meeting I found that a number of people were using the keys on the website so I made requests for feedback of the kind and quality that Peter offered.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Ormyridae (Chalcidoidea, Hymenoptera) and Histeridae (Coleoptera)

Ormyridae (Chalcidoidea, Hymenoptera)

Having discovered a paper written by Zerova & Seryogina (2005) entitled Review of Palearctic Ormyridae (Hymenoptera, Chalcidoidea) with description of two new species I decided to produce an illustrated key just for our four species.  Having done this I sought the permission of one of the authors (M.D.Zarova) to publish this on my website and she was happy for me to do so.  So if you have some specimens of this family do have a go with the key, published at

Histeridae (Coleoptera)

While checking the identification of some other beetles for a research project in Ireland I had a bit of time left so looked over the specimens of Histeridae curated by the Hampshire Cultural Trust's entomology department at Winchester.  This resulted in my being able to clarify some of the couplets in the Histeridae key so this has been updated.

Friday, 29 January 2016

New key to Aleocharinae published

Just posted a key to genus of subfamily Aleocharinae in the Staphylinidae (Coleoptera). This is a large subfamily of the rove beetles which is often neglected by entomologists and I hope that this key may spark some interest.  You will find it at

Off to Dinton Pastures tomorrow for a day identifying Tachinidae (Diptera).  Should be good as I love learning from entomologists who know so much more than me.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

New key to genus Cryptophagus published

I've just completed my translation and adaptation of a key for the British species of genus Cryptophagus.  This genus has a reputation amongst beetle-specialists of being one of the most difficult in our fauna.  If you experience any success with it or find that it fails at certain points please let me know.  You'll find the key at

Reorganisation of the web site

One of these days I'll shell out some cash and buy my own web space for my online keys. As for now I'll stick on Google sites which gives me about 100MB of storage per site.  I have now got to the limit again so I have carved up the keys into their orders as follows

Keys to coleoptera (beetles)

Still at the original site  I am working on some other family keys at the moment and on keys from order to family to access the rest of the site.

Keys to diptera (true flies) 

These are published at  The keys here will be increased over time.  This was the order in which my interest in entomology started.  I have keys at home for all British families but have published relatively few.

Keys to hymenoptera (bees and wasps) and other orders

Now published at  I have done some work on some families of superfamily Chalcidoidea and on sawflies.

I am sorry that this is not at all ideal but until I buy my own web space this is how it will need to be.

Many thanks to those of you that have given me feedback.  Many have said they are finding the keys useful but I'd really love to have specific points so that the keys can be improved. I have described the keys as working documents so whenever things are pointed out I update the key and republish it.

Friday, 1 January 2016

Key to the beetle family Ptinidae published

After a long gap in my postings I thought I would restart with the new year.  Over the last couple of months I've been working on a key for the beetle family Ptinidae.  This has involved translating keys from the German and researching some of the species recently introduced to the British list not included in the German keys. The last thing was translating some descriptions from the Latin and Spanish which are added as appendices to the main key.  If you find the key useful then please let me know so I can improve it.  The key is published at