Paul’s Garden a year on

It has been a year since the last post on this blog and although the main project is finished my garden project that emerged from it goes on, so I thought it was a time for an update. At the time of compiling chapter 15 of The Nature of Cambridge the species count for my garden had reached 783 and that total has now nearly doubled to 1492 including 1201 invertebrates.

A breakdown of these species can be viewed HERE. The spreadsheet containing the full list of species can be downloaded HERE.

I plan to provide future updates on a monthly basis covering new and interesting species found both in my garden and in the City, starting today with last month’s highlights.

September Garden Highlights

I don’t suppose many people get exited by finding aphids in their garden but I do when its a species I have not seen before such as the small number of Macrosiphoniella sejuncta (Large Mottled Yarrow Aphid) I found in my wildflower meadow patch. The distinctive aphid supposedly feeds exclusively on yarrow but mine seemed quite content on ox-eye daisy.

This is the 25th species of aphid I have found in the garden and nearly all of them a very much under recorded, this one in particular, as there are there are no other UK records on iRecord or NBN atlas. For more information on aphids and to help ID any unfamiliar ones I would recommend visiting the Influential Points website.

Pantilius tunicatus is striking and unmistakable plant bug, found mainly on hazel, alder and birch. Adults are to be found between Sept-Oct, and several have been recorded in the city over the last couple of years.

Stenidiocerus poecilus

Stenidiocerus poecilus is a rarely recorded leaf hopper and it would appear to be just the second record for the county. Found on Populus species , but adults overwinter on evergreen plants which may be why I found it in my Poplus free garden

One group of insects that is certainly under recorded in our garden are parsitic wasps which is mainly down to the the difficulty in identifuing the species once found and photographed especially the very tiny ones, so it is very satisfying when one is found that can be identified.

Itoplectis maculator is a large ichneumon wasp that is a parasite of various butterfly and moth pupae and the female uses her long ovipositor to lay her eggs within the pupae.

The tiny chalcid wasp Euplectrus bicolor are also parasites of moths, but this species is an external parasite with the female laying her eggs on the skin of caterpillars. The wasp larvae are able to stay attached to the host until fully fed as their mother injects it with a venom before laying her that prevents the host from moulting its skin.

Itoplectis maculator
Euplectrus bicolor

September City Highlights

I found Lasius fuliginosus (Jet Ants) on an oak tree in Trumpington Meadows. There are only a hadfull of county records for this species and this would appear to be the first city record. Apart rom underrecording, the scarcity of this ant may have something do do with there life cycle. It is a semi-social parasite of a semi-social parasite; that is, the species establishes its colonies in those of the Lasius umbratus group which are in turn founded in colonies of the Lasius niger/flavus species complexes. The chances of success for a founding queen under these circumstances may well result in the highly localised distribution of colonies seen in the field.

Lasius fuliginosus attending Lachnus roboris (Variegated oak aphid)

There do not appear to be many people recording the county’s spiders and records of many species are thin on the ground. Despite the common name Agalenatea redii (Gorse Orbweb Spider) can be found in grassland and this one was found on Magog Downs. At first glance this spider could be mistaken for a small Araneus diadematus (Garden Spider) and reveiwing some earlier photos I seem to have made that mistake with another individule I photographed back in June at Trumpington Meadows.

Agalenatea redii