Notable invertebrates including Rhizophagus oblongicollis Blatch & Horner, 1892 from the Grafton Wood area of Worcestershire during 2013
P.F. Whitehead, Moor Leys, Little Comberton, Pershore, Worcestershire WR10 3EH Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Grafton Wood at Grafton Flyford, a nature reserve jointly owned by Worcestershire Wildlife Trust and Butterfly Conservation, hosted a ‘Brown Hairstreak Open Day’ on 25 August 2013. Since this is a site I seldom visit I used the opportunity to overview one or two other habitats in the vicinity which revealed a number of interesting invertebrates on that day. The 10 km Ordnance Survey map square is SO95 throughout and the altitude is in the area of 39 m a.s.l.
Senile open-grown veteran trees in the Church Farm area
Rhizophagus oblongicollis Blatch & Horner, 1892 (Col., Monotomidae) RDB1 AW1 (sensu Alexander, 2004)
Some findings from these open-grown trees in this area have already been published (Goddard, 1998) and their fauna aligns with regional knowledge of the entomology of such trees. Their fungal interest is also significant. Somewhat unexpected was a single example of the rare monotomid Rhizophagus oblongicollis Blatch & Horner amongst fallen heartwood fragments at the base of an oak tree (Quercus robur L.). This Red Data Book-listed beetle, whilst is almost certainly under-recorded has one previous Worcestershire record when an example taken by Mr D.M. Green at Piper’s Hill, Bromsgrove (SO96 155 m a.s.l.) was sent to me for identification. This was found in an ‘Owen Trap’ set during 2001 (trapping protocols and some results can be found in Owen 1999, 2000). Some regional context for R. oblongicollis was provided by Whitehead (1993) describing a specimen from Toddington in Gloucestershire. A further record is of one at the base of a mature open-grown oak on the floodplain of the River Severn near Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire SO83 16 m a.s.l. on 2 February 2006 (Whitehead, unpublished). Rhizophagus oblongicollis is one of the rarer British Rhizophagus with a scattered distribution in England where it is usually, but not invariably (Owen, 2000) found singly. It has not been found on Bredon Hill but is almost certain to occur there.
Prionychus melanarius (Germar, 1813) (Col., Tenebrionidae) RDB2 AW1
A single larva of Prionychus melanarius was found amongst comminuted heartwood fragments by the base of a senile open-grown oak tree (Quercus robur L.). This is the rarer of the two British Prionychus and is significantly less anthropocentric than Prionychus ater (F., 1775).
Corizus hyscyami (L., 1758) (Hem., Rhopalidae)
A single adult was observed feeding on a developing seed-head of Saw-wort Serratula tinctoria L. Post-breeding adults have a predilection for seeds heads of Asteraceae (Whitehead, 2008) and this was no exception.
Sepedophilus testaceus (F., 1792) (Col., Staphylinidae) Nationally Scarce Nb
A single example of this widespread localised subcortical mycetophilous staphylinid was under the loose decaying bark of a felled larch (Larix sp.). Rarely on conifers although there is some evidence to suggest that larch is favoured.
Prionychus melanarius (Germar, 1813) (Col., Tenebrionidae)
A single larva of Prionychus melanarius (Germar) was found under the bark of a long-felled larch Larix sp. This appears to be an exceptionally rare finding; of the 138 certain British entries for this species on my database this represents the only breeding record on Coniferae. The same comment applies slightly less so to Prionychus ater (F.); in continental Europe I have records of P. ater breeding on Grecian Fir Abies cephalonica Loudon and on Scots Pine Pinus sylvestris L. in Latvia.
Ancistrocerus oviventris (Wesmael, 1836) (Hym., Vespidae)
A single example of this species which is rather rare in the midlands was found resting on a large pile of old oak logs which is sometimes employed as a nest site.
Grafton Wood orchard
It was pleasing to observe a suite of stenotopic mistletoe invertebrates including Hypseloecus visci (Puton, 1888), Pinalitus viscicola (Puton, 1888), Cacopsylla visci (Curtis, 1835) and Ixapion variegatum (Wencker, 1864) and encouraging to see the egg-wintering mirids. In some parts of Britain populations of P. viscicola appear to have been badly affected by the long cold spring of 2013.
Alexander, K. N. A., 2004. Revision of the Index of Ecological Continuity as used for saproxylic beetles. English Nature Research Report 574. English Nature Peterborough
Briggs, J. 2011. Mistletoe and mistletoe insects, overview and observations from 2010. Worcestershire Record 30:9-15.
Goddard, D.G., 1998. Coleoptera in: Grafton Wood recording day. Worcestershire Record 5:27-30.
Owen, J. A., 1999. Beetles occurring underground at the roots of old trees on Ashtead Common, Surrey, Great Britain. Entomologist's Gazette 50:59-67.
Owen, J. A., 2000. Coleoptera occurring underground at the roots of old trees. Entomologist's Gazette 51:239-256.
Whitehead, P.F., 1993. A recent British record of Rhizophagus oblongicollis Blatch & Horner 1892 Entomologist's Gazette 44:20.
Whitehead, P.F., 2008. Observations on the ecology of Corizus hyoscyami (L., 1758) (Hemiptera, Rhopalidae) and the British influx of 2006. Entomologist's Monthly Magazine 144:163-176.