Tuesday 17 July 2012

Bonking Beetles

How wonderful it was to get back out into the countryside yesterday for a nice long walk with mutt. Despite the moisture-laden air and the extremely muddy conditions underfoot, we took off on one of our favourite walks. Slugs and snails were immersed in puddles, a few ringlet butterflies did their best to dance above the ox-eye daisies and wasp beetles crawled over the damp flower heads in search of pollen. However, I watched one critter which was completely oblivious to the conditions we have struggled to call Summer.

It was business as usual for Rhagonycha fulva or the soldier beetle. A common sight on the umbellifer flowers of cow parsley during June and July, their behaviour has earned them the nickname 'bonking beetles' - for obvious reasons. This is all part of the circle of life for these 11mm long, orange-red coloured beetles as they often come to a sticky end - as a food source for Enoplognatha ovata

The comb-footed spider, with a 6mm long body will prey on flies and small insects. This particular variant flashed its magenta-red body stripe, and displayed a well stocked larder of flies and an unfortunate soldier beetle. Here, the dehydrated carcass resembled a sun-dried tomato but this formidable arachnid would need to be alert.

Panorpa comunis or the scorpion fly was on the prowl. With a 35mm wingspan, this fly scavenges on dead insects and can often be found stealing from the webs of spiders. Earning its name from the shape of the males tail, which curls over in a scorpion-like fashion, it is in fact, completely harmless and doesn't sting.

So, whilst mutt and me toddled off home for a lovely cuppa, the soldier beetles who had appeared to have survived the hedgerow gang-warfare, for now, toddled off on their merry way for a spot more bonking.

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