Beetles and Bugs before the Storm

North East Ladybird Spot volunteer, Daphne Aplin, shares her unexpected invertebrate discoveries during a winter visit to Cowpen Bewley Woodland Park.

Thinking I might be housebound for a couple of days due to Storm Arwen, I decided to go for a walk in Cowpen Bewley Woodland Park in Billingham to see what, if anything, was about.

The first little creature I came across was a tiny Red-legged Shieldbug nymph scaling a tree trunk. Whereas a lot of shieldbugs overwinter as adults, this species overwinters as a nymph. I then got a fleeting glimpse of a Picture-wing Fly.

I was hoping to find something that I could study so I got my sweep net and “swept” the vegetation that edges the track between the wood and the meadow. Success!

The first sweep netted 2 tiny caterpillars and an European Chinchbug nymph. Subsequent sweeps produced an adult 7-spot Ladybird and an adult weevil, which I am quite certain is the Pea-leaf Weevil, and a tiny 3mm beetle that I suspected
might belong to the leaf beetle family.

I put everything back bar this beetle because there was just something “different” about it and, as I am not very confident with beetles, I decided this was worth closer inspection. I am so glad I took it home because it turned out to be a Pointed-keeled Ladybird, one of the inconspicuous ladybirds and the first adult I have ever, knowingly, seen. In November
2018, I did see the larva of the Scale-eating Ladybird, grazing on lichen on an Ash tree at the other side of the Park, and I have wanted to see an adult ever since.

Some things are worth the wait!

10-spot Ladybird, form decempustulata © James Common

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