Welcome to my blog

This is where I post various musings about wildlife and ecology, observations of interesting species (often invertebrates)
and bits of research that grab my attention. As well as blogging, I undertake professional ecological & wildlife surveys
covering invertebrates, plants, birds, reptiles, amphibians and some mammals, plus habitat assessment and management
. I don't work on planning applications/for developers. The pages on the right will tell you more about my work,
main interests and key projects, and you can follow my academic work here.

Monday 27 February 2012

Bark at the Moon - small invertebrates of timber (Part 6)

It's been a while since my last post about the small invertebrates that have made their home in our firewood store. These have generally been small beetles (Coleoptera) and barkflies (Psocoptera), but this one - found wandering along the coffee table just after a load of logs had been brought in belongs to a group I sometimes neglect a little (generally because of my tendency to favour the beetles); the true bugs or Hemiptera.This one was about 7mm long with striped legs and connexivium (the sides of the abdomen) and a hairy pronotum. These features, along with the overall appearance, indicate that this is the Nettle Groundbug Heterogaster urticae, one of the Lygaeidae (groundbugs).

Dorsal view of Heterogaster urticae
H. urticae is a common species in southern England - found on nettles in more open habitats during the summer, adults overwinter in various places, including in hollow stems and beneath bark which is likely source of this specimen which has now been placed back in the detritus in our woodstore. Adults emerge in the spring and then mate. The hairy pronotum and series of tibial stripes separate this species from the similar, though less widely distributed, H. artemisiae (Southwood & Leston, 2005). For more images, including nymphs, see here. As ever, it can be interesting to zoom in on some of the detail:

Head of H. urticae showing the bulbous compound eye, and to its left, the small, shiny red-pink simple eye or 'ocellus'.

The pale, erect hairs on the pronotum of H. urticae. The coarse punctures in the pronotal surface are also visible.
That's all for now - a fairly short post today - more soon...


Southwood, T.R.E. & Leston, D. (2005). Land & Water Bugs of the British Isles. Pisces, Newbury. Edited facsimile of the 1959 work.

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