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 11 April 2014

What's in the box? Beetle-related joy (part 1)

Sometimes I get sent emails with photos of beetles, sometimes I get little packets of unsorted beetles with a letter asking for identification, but sometimes I get beautifully, neatly mounted and pinned specimens and that makes my entomological heart happy. In this case some specimens of Aphthona flea-beetles (Chrysomelidae: Alticini) needing to be checked at species level.

Neat arrangement of Aphthona specimens
The two on the left are similar (yellowish with a dark stripe) and are what I'm looking at here (the other darker one will appear in a separate post). They are both possible A. pallida which needs checking as the species was only recognised as being British (Sinclair & Hutchins, 2009) a few years ago, so its abundance and distribution is not well understood. This doesn't mean it's only just arrived, but that it hadn't been noticed before and was probably confused with the similar A. nigriceps (Jobe & Marsh, 2012).

Probably Aphthona pallida - a male with the aedeagus dissected out. Beetle approx 2.5mm long, excluding appendages.
The yellow-brown colour with a darker head and partial dark stripe along the suture (where the wing-cases or 'elytra' meet) is typical. Looking more closely at the aedeagus, the end has a small blunt point which is the final feature needed to confirm that this, and the other specimen, are A. pallida - in this case found in Cumbria.

Aedeagus of A. pallida - note the small blunt point top left.


Jobe, J.B. & Marsh, R.J. (2012). The status of Aphthona pallida (Bach) (Chrysomelidae) in Yorkshire. The Coleopterist 21(1): 19-20.
Sinclair, M. & Hutchins, D. (2009). Aphthona pallida (Bach, 1856) (Chrysomelidae) is a British species. The Coleopterist 18(3): 155-157.

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