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Lixinae weevils

Recently found Rhinocyllus conicus on marsh thistle Cirsium palustre at a site in Bexhill. This weevil and the closely related Larinus planus used to be quite rare and localised in Sussex but seem to be spreading rapidly in the last few years. Larinus planus is now common on creeping thislte Cirsium arvense along the coast from Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve to Dungeness. It is especially common at Pett Level.

Rhinocyllus conicus (below) has a similar tessellated pattern of pale scales as Larinus planus but the rostrum (the elongated part of a weevils head) is much shorter and broader with a distinct keel along the top.

Two other Lixinae weevils have been recorded in the RX area including Lixus scabricollis which is now common on sea beet Beta vulgaris subsp. maritima on cliffs and shingle from Bexhill to Dungeness. The most spectacular of all is Lixus angustatus, a very large weevil also associated with thistles, which unfortunately was last recorded in Britain in 1923 on the cliffs of Hastings to Fairlight. Another thistle weevil which could occur in the area is Cleonus pigra. It is a large weevil with a double V pattern on its back.

So never pass a patch of thistles in the RX coastal area without checking for Lixinae weevils you could make a significant discovery. All these species are nationally rare or scarce.

Andy Phillips


From the Clifftop

Good to see posts appearing on RX again !

It seems to me at the moment that insects are the new birds, just can't find any unusual birds to report on, but Ive had a run of good moths lately during the warm weather. Last nighr resulted in over 50 species in my Fairlight moth trap, including this scarce migrant, a Small Marbled, easily mistaken for a micro-moth [I potted it thinking it was an interesting tortrix], Obscure Wainscot and Boxworm Moth, both second garden records. Recently I have caught a Northern Rustic-my sixth here since the first ten years ago, and a Sand Dart which had presumably wandered from the dunes at Camber.



Stem nesting bees at Great Dixter

The gardens and meadows at Great Dixter are alive with an abundance and diversity of stem nesting bees and wasps at the moment including two of Britain's smallest bee species the small scissor bee Chelostoma campanularum and the little yellow-face bee Hylaeus pictipes

The tiny Chelostoma campanularum bees can be seen foraging from Campanula and Geranium flowers throughout the gardens and nesting in thatch and beetle borings in wooden posts.

Hylaeus pictipes females forage from many different plant species throughout the gardens. The males of this species conspicuously 'swarm' with large numbers of male pale-footed black wasps Psenulus pallipes around the tops of tall vegetation adjacent to the Great Dixter Barn thatch roof and log pile waiting to intercept females as they return to their stem and tube nests.

The thatch roof at Great Dixter is home to many stem nesting bees and wasps and their associated cleptoparasites, parasitoids and inquilines. 

Andy Phillips

(Photos by Ian Phillips)


Moth Night & Summer Fayre

We will be having a night time moth event at St Helens Wood near the BBQ area this Friday 5th July. We will meet up around 20:45. We will set up traps and see what night time wonders we can find to present to the public the following day when there will be a Summer Fayre at St Helens Wood in the same area. It opens around 2pm on Saturday. All are welcome to come along on either night/day and see what all the fuss is about.


Marbled Whites – a new colony

Today I was surprised to find 8 Marbled White butterflies, including a pair 'almost' mating and 3 buzzing round each other (perhaps 2 males chasing a female), on the overgrown bank of the Rother immediately opposite Houghton Green Lane at Playden, grid. ref. TQ 930224. This is some 5 km inland and 3 km north of what I believe is the nearest colony at Castle Water/Northpoint. There are already Marbled Whites well away from coastal shingle/sand along the canal at Appledore, so having long since spread from its traditional downland habitats, the species now seems to be adapting to the general countryside.