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.

Friday 7 February 2014

What's in the box? Two of one, one of another (part 2)

Yesterday, the answer was Oulema melanopus - today I'm tackling the other two, much tinier beetles. They both look like the one below and were tentatively identified from dissection as male Aphthona euphorbiae. Why tentatively? Well, they can only be separated from closely related species (not to mention some taxonomic confusion with these which I might write about if it's ever resolved) by looking at the aedeagus - the male genitalia - and in these specimens they don't look quite like the standard images in books or on websites like this which are useful for comparison.

A specimen of Aphthona, possibly A. euphorbiae - it is around 2mm long, not including legs and antennae.
Looking at specimen #1, here's the aedeagus:

Aedeagus of A. euphorbiae.
This one's straightforward - it's fairly stubby and although it doesn't widen towards the end (the top), it has got the small, broad blunt tip on the otherwise more-or-less semicircular end. Definitely A. euphorbiae, so onto specimen #2:

Aedeagus of A. euphorbiae.
This one's similar, but under the microscope looked more elongate although the tip is correct. It's probably A. euphorbiae but with the possibility for confusion with A. atrovirens or A. ?atratula (the '?' indicates uncertainty about it's identity/taxonomy), it can be worth checking even common species as this can sometimes help unravel such difficulties, though in most cases it is simply the usual range of variation between individuals even in diagnostic features such as the aedeagus. Anyhow, time for a side view:

Aedeagus of A. euphorbiae.
The curved (but not too curved) form confirms it is A. euphorbiae - a common species but good practice in investigating features that can be tricky in specimens showing a little variation from the norm.

That's enough beetle-nerding from me. Back soon with... hmmm, haven't decided yet...

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