Other macro pages:  -  MACRO 1,    MACRO 2,    MACRO 3

Rose Sawfly larva  -  (Arge ochropus / pagana)
Large Rose Sawfly  -  (Arge ochropus / pagana)

Rose Sawfly are black in colour with a yellow / orange abdomen and grow to around 10mm in length as adults. The larvae feed on both wild and cultivated roses and can cause serious damage to the rose plant. The adult uses its saw tail to cut a slit in the stem of the rose plant and lay its eggs. As they grow the stem splits open. The larvae emerge and immediately start feeding on the leaves on the rose plant. Larvae can grow to 20-25mm in length. The larvae of both species Arge ochropus / pagana are very difficult to distinguish.

Common Red Soldier Beetle  (Rhagonycha fulva)
Common Red Soldier Beetle  (Rhagonycha fulva)
A common and widespread beetle found across the UK and growing to around 1cm in length. Adults are usually seen from June to August on wild flowers. They feed on nectar and pollen but will also predate on other small insects visiting the flower. This beetle is harmless to humans but is often mistakenly feared by children and called the "Bloodsucker" because of its bright red appearance. The larvae live at the base of long grass and feed on small insects and other invertebrate such as slugs. There are around 40 different species of Soldier Beetle in the UK with varying combinations of red, black and orange colouration.

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10mm Black Garden Ant queen  -  photographed 15th September 2019 in SE London
Black Garden Ant   -   (Lasius niger)
The Black Garden Ant, or Common Black Ant, is the most common of the 60 species of ant found in the UK and they can also be found across most of Europe, North and South America, Asia and Australia. Queens can grow to over 15mm in length whilst female workers are around 3mm. Workers are black in colour whilst queens are far browner. The Black Garden Ant lives in a colony consisting of a queen and up to 15,000 female workers. The workers tend to the queen and the larvae and also gather food for the colony. The colonies are built in dry soil which is usually positioned in a spot where it is warmed by the sun. This can be in lawns or flowerbeds, but under heavy items such as paving slabs is the most regular choice of location.

When the colony has reached its maximum capacity the queen starts to give birth to new virgin winged queens known as princesses, and flying males known as drones. The princesses are larger than the drones and considerably larger than the female workers. When conditions are right the flying ants will swarm and leave the colonies in search of partners from other colonies to mate with. The queen will give birth to large numbers of these winged forms of ant, known as alates, but most will be eaten by birds and never get the opportunity to build new colonies.

The males will only live very short lives of around one week and die soon after mating. The new queens will usually mate with several different males before they begin their search for somewhere to start a new colony. They will then chew off their own wings and live the rest of their lives as terrestrial ants. During their mating period the queen will have stored enough sperm from the males to allow her to lay thousands of eggs over her 15 year lifespan. In captivity some queens have lived for 28 years!

Once a suitable location has been found the queen will start building an underground chamber where she will lay her first eggs. She will not feed again for several weeks until her offspring are reared and able to leave the colony and set off to forage for food for her. When a foraging worker ant finds a source of food it will carry what it can back to the nest whilst leaving a pheromone scent trail allowing other worker ants to follow her footsteps to the food source. The Black Garden Ant is the only species of British ant that regularly ventures into human homes.

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30mm Sea Slater  -  found under a rock along the edge of the River Thames, Thamesmead, SE London. 13th November 2019
Sea Slater   -   (Ligia oceanica)
The Sea Slater, sometimes referred to as the Sea Louse or Sea Roach, is a crustacean and a larger close relative of the woodlouse found in gardens. However this species is not found in gardens but instead found living under rocks and debris along the coastline all around Britain. Sea Slaters live for 2-3 years and are the largest of the oniscid isopods and grow to around 30mm in length. Like all members of the Woodlouse family Sea Slaters play an important role in the ecosystem as recyclers by feeding on decaying plant and animal material. During the daytime Sea Slaters hide away under rocks but they can be seen at night as they emerge and scavenge for rotting seaweed and other decaying matter at low tide. Sea Slaters are equipped with gills allowing them to breath underwater if necessary when the tide comes in, but they are primarily a land dwelling species. 

In the UK we also have two other species of Water Slater that are entirely aquatic. However both Asellus aquaticus and Asellus meridianus are considerably smaller than Sea Slaters and grow to around 10mm. Both species of Water Slater are found in freshwater locations such as ponds, and slow moving streams.

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10mm Land Hopper playing dead  -  one of hundreds found under a log in oak woodland, SE London. 10th May 2020
Landhopper   -   (Arcitalitrus dorrieni)
The Landhopper has various common names including the Woodhopper, Lawn Shrimp and Australian Mud Shrimp. Landhoppers grow up to 10mm in length and along with Woodlice are the only totally terrestrial crustacean to be found in the UK. The Landhopper lives in dark, damp locations in gardens and woodland under rotting wood and leaf litter and feeds entirely on decaying plant matter. Landhoppers live in large groups and when disturbed they jump around using powerful abdomen contractions and releases. Their next line of defence is to play dead. Their visual appearance, as well as their jumping behavior, gives them a strong resemblance to a giant flea. Arcitalitrus dorrieni is considered rare in the UK and is generally confined to South West England and Southern Wales, with the exception of scattered and isolated sites across the UK.

There are various species of Landhopper found across the world but they are all found in the Southern Hemisphere. Arcitalitrus dorrieni has been in the UK since 1924 during Victorian times when it is believed to have accidentally been imported amidst tropical plants originating from Australia. As an invasive species it is encouraged for sightings to be recorded here.

Landhoppers shouldn't be confused with their cousins the Sandhopper (Talitrus saltator) which is similar in appearance and behavior but is found on coastal sites, often under wet sand and seaweed, but is a native species to the UK. Sandhoppers are paler in colour and larger in size than the Landhopper and grow to around 20mm.

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Stripe-Legged Robberfly photographed in my garden in SE London June 2019

Stripe-Legged Robberfly   -   (Dioctria baumhaueri, previously Dioctria hyalipennis)
Dioctria sp. are small species of Robberfly. The Stripe-Legged Robberfly has a body-length of around 8 - 13mm and is widespread and common throughout England and the East of Wales from May to August. These flies are predators feeding on smaller insects they catch either in the air or on the ground. Most Dioctria sp. are difficult to identify without very close inspection. The Stripe-Legged Robberfly is predominantly black in colour but the two pairs of front legs are orange with a dark stripe running the length of the upper surface.

As with other species of Robberfly Stripe-Legged Robberflies catch their victims with their long, powerful legs and proceed to stab the soft body parts of their prey with their piercing mouth-parts. The piercing mouth-parts then inject saliva containing both nerve toxins that paralyse the victim and enzymes that start to dissolve the victim's insides so they can be drunk.

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Stripe-Legged Robberfly photographed in my garden in SE London 28th June 2016

One of many Striped Oak Bugs (Rhabdomiris striatellus) found on a large Oak Tree in Oxted Surrey, 17th May 2020

Striped Oak Bug  -   (Rhabdomiris striatellus)
A distinctively marked bug that is primarily associated with Oak Trees and Hawthorn Bushes. Adults are usually 7-9mm in length and feed on small insects such as aphids. Striped Oak Bugs overwinter as eggs which hatch in April and grow to adults by May / July. This species is sometimes confused with the similarly coloured and marked Mirid Bug (Miris striatus) which is slightly larger at 9-11mm but is found in the same habitat. Mirid Bugs are longer, darker and can be distinguished by their black heads.

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