Sunday, 20 January 2013

Winter Ramblings of a Bored Beetler

Agrilus.blogspot.co.uk by Lamia textor
Polyommatus icarus, note how spots on some run and coalasce. 
I'll be honest, I've not got a lot to write about this week, I've spent most of the time walking to and from work in the snow. Roll on spring. However it does give me time to sit at the desk and go through a few beetles that I haven't put a name to. Usually the little black or brown jobs that didn't catch the eye immediately when captured. This winter I've spent several nights working through my Scolytidae (Bark beetles). I've always found these a little tricky as so many similar looking species exist, the available keys are pretty old. If new keys exist they aren't readily available. However I'm having a go and so far have been able to put a name to a few. The European Elm Bark Beetle Scolytus multistriatus to name but one.

Given from my earlier blog that you may already know that I've been studying and collecting insects for 40 years the winter weather has also given me time to go back and reminisce about previous years collecting. Looking back I think that I must have a slightly OCD type character. I get one or two year obsessions when I have to find something, study something and I'm afraid usually collect it. This goes back to my teenage years and my first insect OCD interaction over the butterfly Polyommatus icarus (The Common Blue). I was 18 at the time, around about 1981, into the usual lads activities like chasing girls down town and playing Rugby on a Saturday for the local Club Paviours. However most evenings during the summer months I would head either to the Colliery Slag heap or down to the Netherfield/Colwick Railway Sidings, a large brown field site. Here I would capture every single Common Blue I saw, Give it a quick examination for underside spotting and either keep or let go. I just had to find Common Blues that had different spotting patterns to the norm. Now here's the bit that might make one or two people wince a little, I collected over 150 specimens. I often used to question such profligacy, but my father always used to say "take it" they won't be here in a few years. He was of course right. There are no Common Blues where I used to roam as a teenager, there is however a B&Q a Tesco Home Plus, Macdonalds, Morrisons and one or two other nondescript sheds on the site, the remainder is a car auction space, a massive slab of tarmac. I'm no longer that catch it sort of bloke, primarily because there is, in my opinion, more pressure on wild spaces than 40 years ago. There are less brown field sites on which to wander, the green or yellow field sites around me are just too boring to wander through. Just a few weeks now until insect life starts to show itself again, I can't wait!

Give it a few weeks I'll hopefully be writing about 2013 sightings. A bit of feedback would be nice. It's really difficult to know whether I'm boring the pants of people who read these blogs or giving at least a little interest to one or two out there. I've pretty broad shoulders so constructive criticisms accepted.

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