fg-taxon #87 (Myothyriopsis cf. bivittata)

fg-taxon #87 (Myothyriopsis cf. bivittata)
EDIT (Monty Wood 26/9/2010): This is Myothyriopsis poss. bivittata – the broad black vittae are quite distinctive. This genus has been reared from Heliconius butterflies.

fg-taxon #31 (Myothyriopsis sp.)

fg-taxon #31 (Myothyriopsis sp.)
EDIT (Monty Wood 26/9/2010): This is Myothyriopsis sp. – this genus has been reared from Heliconius butterflies.

Pheeewww! I’ve just finished sorting batch 3

Pheeewww! I've just finished sorting batch 3
I like to split the processing of Malaise trap samples into several distinct phases. The first phase is to empty the tubes of insects suspended in alcohol into individual tupperware trays and then work through them, splitting out the groups that I am interested in (mainly tachinids) and that I collect for friends. The tachinids ...

Capitonius sp. (Braconidae, Cenocoeliinae) – an evanoid ‘mimic’

Capitonius sp. (Braconidae, Cenocoeliinae) - an evanoid 'mimic'
Amongst the evanoid wasps I have found quite a few of these little wasps. At first I thought that they must be evanoids because the gaster is mounted very high on the propodeum but on closer inspection they have fused costal veins and so they actually key (in Goulet & Huber, 1993) to Braconidae. Then ...

Hemistephanus erugatus (Stephanoidea, Stephanidae) 5

Hemistephanus erugatus (Stephanoidea, Stephanidae)
Continuing the Hymenoptera theme I have been picking out anything that looks a bit like an evanoid wasp and came across these lovely stephanoids. The Stephanoidea (the only family being Stephanidae) are quite distinctive because they have very round heads with a crown of little thorns around a median ocellus – coupled with the fact ...

An amazing French Guianan chalcid 2

An amazing French Guianan chalcid
I know it must seem like I have gone over to the dark-side but Hymenoptera aren’t all bad … Jean sent me a few tubes of wasps in his recent batch and it didn’t take long before I found some really exquisite insects – like this one. Normal chalcids are tiny little things but this ...

Third French Guianan batch arrives! 2

Third French Guianan batch arrives!
Newsflash – the third batch of flies from Jean Cerda in French Guiana has arrived. Looks like a really big sample too so I am keeping my fingers crossed for plenty of fun this winter!  More news to follow as I work through them 😀

Cordyligaster petiolata (Sophiini, fg-taxon #85) 2

Cordyligaster petiolata (Sophiini, fg-taxon #85)
This is my current favourite from Villu’s recent sample of tachinids from French Guiana – it looks very closely related to one I found in my last batch – see here. This identification was made by comparing the specimen to material in the NHM in London – many thanks to Erica McAlister & Kim Goodyear ...

A sample from Estonia 1

A sample from Estonia
I have just taken delivery of a really interesting sample of tachinids from Villu Soon at the Museum of Zoology, Tartu, Estonia. It is a mixture of 3/4 Estonian and 1/3 French Guianan samples so it is doubly exciting for me – things I can actually identify and add to my Palearctic collection PLUS more ...

fg-taxon #83 (Telothyria sp.) 2

fg-taxon #83 (Telothyria sp.)
This is a strange little tachinid with a fluffy thorax (the hair has been matted by alcohol in the photos) similar to Pollenia (Calliphoridae). It also has extremely large Carcelia-like eyes and narrow gena. The proboscis is also quite long and looks like it might project slightly in front of the mouth edge if it ...

fg-taxon #82 (Ebenia sp.)

fg-taxon #82 (Ebenia sp.)
This is a bit of an oddity and might actually be a rhinophorid – it has a fairly complete subscutellum; diverging calyptrae and a small, roundish head. But it’s hard to guess what neotropical rhinophorids look like. EDIT (Monty Wood 26/9/2010): This is an Ebenia sp.

Archytas aurifrons (fg-taxon #80) 1

Archytas aurifrons (fg-taxon #80)
This nice little tachinid looks very like a Tachininae – similar to fg-taxon #20 but with more black on the abdomen. EDIT (Monty Wood 26/9/2010): These are an Archytas sp. EDIT (6/8/2011): After a visit to the BMNH I believe these to be Archytas aurifrons, Townsend.

fg-taxon #81 (close to Itacuphocera sp.)

fg-taxon #81 (close to Itacuphocera sp.)
This is an interesting little taxon shaped a little like a queen wood ant, with a very bulbous abdomen. The basic colour is glossy black with quite a dense layer of hairs on the abdomen. The head is quite rounded – especially at the back, with long antennae and a yellow arista. EDIT (Monty Wood ...

Moor Copse – 25th October 2009

Moor Copse - 25th October 2009
Went for a quick stroll round Moor Copse today to see the autumn colours. The leaves were just dropping but there were plenty of green leaves on the Oaks and lots of insects still about. Common Darters were particularly friendly and let me get very close to take photos. Fungi were also quite plentiful – ...

The Holies – 10th October 2009

The Holies - 10th October 2009
I fancied a walk up a sunny hill today so I went over to The Holies, a local National Trust grassland reserve, overlooking the Thames Valley at Streetley. There were quite a lot of insects about, taking in the autumn sunshine – Comma & Speckled Wood along the wood edge; Meadow Brown & Painted Lady ...

Tachinids from Galicia, Spain

Tachinids from Galicia, Spain
A few weeks ago José Luis Camaño Portela contacted me and asked if I would mind helping him identify some tachinids that he had been collecting as part of a scheme to record the biodiversity in the Galicia region of north-western Spain. It is an unusual location from a collecting point of view and he ...

Moor Copse – 27th September 2009

Moor Copse - 27th September 2009
Went for an end-of-season stroll through my local patch of old woodland today – I am still getting over a nasty virus (possibly Swine Flu) and it was good to stretch my legs and get some fresh air through the old lungs! On my way round it felt very autumnal, with the occasional leaf fluttering ...

OPAL re-housing project starts … 3

OPAL re-housing project starts ...
The funding hasn’t come through yet but I always planned to make a contribution myself so last Friday I bought the first 20 drawers from Max Barclay at the Natural History Museum in London! I didn’t have to buy them so quickly but I wanted to make a tangible start to the project and it ...

Darwin Centre – 23rd September 2009

Darwin Centre - 23rd September 2009
These are a few of the photos I took while going round the new Darwin Centre ‘cocoon’ at the Natural History Museum. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was really keen to go and see it in the first week after it opened so when the chance came up I jumped at it. ...

OPAL funding

OPAL funding
Earlier this year The Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) network announced that they had made grants available to UK natural history societies and recording schemes. OPAL are a multipartner organization that aims “to create and inspire a new generation of nature-lovers by getting people to explore, study, enjoy and protect their local environment.” They are funded ...