Worcestershire Record No. 18 April 2005 p. 25-26


John Meiklejohn

Naturalists use a whole range of techniques to capture specimens of the groups in which they are interested. Netting for butterflies and other flying insects, light trapping for moths, using binoculars for spotting birds and dragonflies, voluminous white nets for the dipterists, dipping nets for the pond life addicts and so on. For most entomologists winter and the cold weather severely curtail their field activities.

I am interested in beetles, bugs, snails and a wide range of other invertebrates. Many of these are secreted away in their haunts and are not at all obvious to the casual observer. I do use a very strong, capacious net for sweeping grassland, rough vegetation and catching specimens beaten from the foliage of trees and I spend a lot of time turning over stones, pieces of old metal sheeting, old logs and branches and looking under bark on old trees.

When John Partridge came on to the scene with his spider hunting techniques, it became obvious that the more varied the hunting techniques the more variety there was in 'the catch'. I have been pleased to adopt some of his methods. Here is an outline of John's latest hunting technique that I have found very revealing.

Required in the field.

A small, folding, fine-toothed pruning saw. (as from B & Q)
Two or three strong, plastic carrier bags with NO small air holes.
Strong rubber bands to seal the above.
A pair of old gloves.

At home, in the warm in winter!!!

A large white, or clear plastic container, about 50 x 30 cms. and 15+cms. deep as sold in High Street stores for household storage.



Find a more or less isolated clump of coarse grass - any roadside verge or waste land, preferably not on a heavy clay soil.

Record Grid reference, date and place.

Using the hand pruning saw, saw around the clump, deep into the soil and transfer it all quickly into the plastic bag and seal it.

A matter of minutes out in the cold!


Shake the clump into the plastic container under a table lamp. Capture any specimens you want - a pooter is ideal for doing this. Have a bucket handy to receive surplus soil and vegetation as you search through the clump.

The following is a list of a mid-winter haul from just one clump. Admittedly, a better than average one, but other clumps have yielded millipedes, centipedes, moth larvae, slugs, harvestmen, pseudo scorpions, mites and others - all in Winter!


Laneside verge, 22nd January 2005

Invertebrate species found in one clump of grass with roots

Acupalpus meridianus * L
Agonum albipes * C
Agonum assimile * C
Aphodius granarius L
Aridius bifasciatus C(int)
Bembidion aeneum * C
Bembidium biguttatum * C
Bembidion guttula * C
Bembidion harpaloides * C
Bembidion obtusum * C
Dromius linearis * C
Dromius melanocephalus * C
Lathrobium fulvipenne + C
Metabletus obscuroguttatus * L
Notaris acridulus C
Paederus litoralis + C
Perapion curtirostre C
Philonthus varius + C
Platystethus nitens + L
Stenus cicendelloides + L
Stenus juno + C
Stenus picipennis + L
Stilbus testaceus C
Tachyporus chrysomelinus + C
Tachyporus hypnorum + C
Tytthaspis 16-punctata L
Tomocerus longicornis C
+ two other spp.
Forficula auricularia C
Pisaura mirabilis C
+ others
Philoscia muscorum C
Trichoniscus pusillus C
Aegopinella nitidula C
Monacha cantiana L
Trichia hispida C
Vitrea crystallina C
National status C - common L - local (int) - introduced

* Ground beetle (Carabidae) 

+ Rove beetle (Staphylinidae) 

26 species of beetle.

There were as many as eight specimens of some of the beetle species, about 25 Philoscia woodlice and many springtails.

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