Thursday 29 August 2019

Common Wall Lizards: August 2019, La Jard, France

Lots of lovely wall lizards legging it up the walls(!) of the house, barn, smaller barn, shed and smaller shed - but which species? Having consulted the correct field guide, I am pretty sure these are Common Wall Lizard (Podarcis muralis) - the male being the super-sexy spotty one and the female being the stripey lass below. 

Graphosoma lineatum, Striped bug or Minstrel bug: 8 August 2019, La Jard, France

Shield Bug in the UK come in a striking array of colours - usually ranging from 'brown' via 'slightly greeny but mainly brown' to a very exciting 'really quite green, with a hint of brown and maybe some purple hues if you are lucky'
I did learn on this trip to France, that Shield Bugs on the continent can be a whole lot more exciting. I say 'exciting' assuming that readers of this blog have some interest in natural history (rather than just stalking me) and so they will have some appreciation of what I am talking about...

The Striped or Minstrel Bugs encountered during this trip were brilliant. Found on nearly every head of the Apiaceae or Umbelliferae flowers growing along the access track, these little fiery jewels of the shield bug world were a very exciting find (if, as me, you didn't know they were there!).

Sounds like they are recorded occasionally in southern UK - natural dispersal, global warming or the transportation via people, produce or plants, who knows? To be welcomed, who knows? But they do look rather smart!

Is this a nymph? Answers please Glen...

Mantispa styriaca, Styrian Praying Lacewing: August 8 - La Jard, France

Opened the moth trap this morning, to be confronted by this beauty - seemingly a Mantispa styriaca, or Styrian Praying Lacewing. Wow! And one of the greatest joys of this beauty, is that I simply didn't know such a group of insects existed. Top end of a Praying Mantis: Arse end of a Lacewing - brilliant!

Wikipedia entry lists a fascinating aspect of it's ecology - closely woven with a spider: "In the spring, the larva searches for a female wolf or fishing spider, of the genera Lycosa and Dolomedes, in order to bore its way into the cocoon that the spider carries on its abdomen, by biting a slit open. It is carnivorous in its first stage, as shown by dead spiders being found around it. Before the larva molts, it resembles a dipluran of genus Campodea. After the larva's first molt, the species has short legs that it cannot use, a small head, has jaws that extend straight out, and has pointed antennae that extend beyond the jaws. Once the larva starts metamorphosis, it pupates by spinning a cocoon inside the spider's egg sac, in which it stays up to 14 days before its final molting.[2] Pupation happens in the middle of June. It is a nymph after emerging from the cocoon, not yet in its adult form.[1][2] Once it enters the adult stage, the species hunt for prey by using fast strikes of their forelegs that can take less than 60 ms. Its hunting style is similar to that of the praying mantis.[3]
Friedrich Moritz Brauer, an Austrian entomologist, discovered the first instar on vegetation in 1852. It was not until 17 years later that he discovered the other instars within spider egg sacs." 

Utterly brilliant!