Sunday, 21 May 2017

A Cautionary Tale

I've recently been in contact with Murdo MacDonald, the records collator for the Highland Biological Recording Group (HBRG). You can check out their website by clicking here. He's been going through this blog checking for any glaring bloopers upon my part. Thankfully just six queries thus far (of over 600 species recorded) and nothing outright rejected, but this single line of text stood out like a death sentence

Microvelia reticulata -  Well off mapped range. Certain?

I had a bit of a panic at that, I'd been so sure the ID was good. Only one thing for it, trundle back and grab a few then double-check what they actually are. Problem is that the small backwater they inhabit is fast disappearing as the water level drops. Would there be any suitable habitat left at all? I had my dinner and set off to check (not much in life gets in the way of dinner...)

When the River Conon is running high there is an overspill channel that becomes filled with water. As the water level drops this channel is cut off resulting in a series of very shallow interconnected pools. These have been steadily reducing in size so that at the moment most of the channel is now completely dry. Would the Microvelia still be here or would they have died with the loss of the pools?

The overflow channel with just two tiny pools remaining
Happily I found several of the assumed Microvelia, scurrying across the surface at my approach. I scooped two into a small tube before investigating the only other body of standing water available

This pool is below the weir's overflow sluice. Note the river in the background
I was positively thrilled to see a whole horde of assumed Microvelia scatter for cover at my approach, at least 20 of them disappearing into the stony edges. Closer inspection showed them to be huddled onto pebbles, I guess the open meniscus offers no hiding places so they head straight to the shore. There are no aquatic plants in this pool, apart from tiny growths of freshwater algae on the rocks. Nothing emergent though. I potted up three of the tiny beasts, each being about 2 or 3mm in length, before heading back to check them at high magnification.

Back indoors I was a bit disappointed to discover that they were all nymphs, maybe the adults have died off after overwintering and breeding. The one I checked before was an adult, that was on 25th March. There's a piccie of it on this blogpage.

Here's what they look like through a microscope

This one, rather unfortunately, had pegged it in the tube. But at least I could get some half-decent pics of unusual angles


Anyway, regards Microvelia the feature to concentrate on are the tarsal segments of the hindleg. This from the key:

1st and 2nd segments of hind tarsi equal (Length apters 1.6-1.8mm, macro 1.8-2mm) - pygmaea
2nd segment of posterior tarsi twice as long as 1st  - couplet 2....  (between reticulata and buenoi)

The problem I had was seeing a second tarsal segment! Maybe they aren't developed yet in nymphs? Try as I might the tarsus seemed to be of just one segment. Unhelpful. Meh. There is, of course another obvious explanation but I wasn't considering this at the time...

There are three drawings in the key that show the general body shape of reticulata and buenoi, mine were a good match for reticulata being rather broader and more rounded in dorsal aspect.

I hate relying on Google Images for help, though they sometimes lead to good sites. Lots of websites later I still wasn't convinced. Mine certainly looked good but would Murdo accept them? Then I stumbled across a key for the wingless apters (and hopefully nymphs!) God bless Brian Eversham, he the man! Scroll down to the very bottom of this Key to Aquatic Bugs and read the bit about the shape of the segment behind the pronotum

That'll do for me! After all that fuss and frustration I checked the distribution of Microvelia pygmaea and M.buenoi in Scotland. And guess what - they don't occur! Microvelia reticulata is the only representative of the genus ever to have been recorded from Scotland. Sheesh.....anyway, all confirmed now. Hopefully.

I emailed Murdo with the 'good news' and he passed the details of this blog to the HBRG Hemipterist. Smug bugger that I am I could hardly wait for the verdict. This afternoon it arrived -

The pictures appear to me to show early instar nymphs of a Velia species photographed in a classic Velia habitat. 

There is a pale midline showing, the first antennal segment is comparatively long and strongly curved and the middle legs in particular are very long. There are no pale marks/white spots to the front of the pronotum (also present in nymphs). I can't see the metanotum clearly but the other characters ought to be enough. If it is a nymph that is already the adult size for Microvelia then it is likely that it will achieve a larger size as an adult.
So, I've strung the whole damn thing, fooling myself but thankfully not the expert! And, when you break it down as they have, it's pretty bloody obvious too. What do I need to take away from this (other than a red face and a big pointy hat with a 'D" on it?) Well firstly I need to run through keys from the beginning rather than from genus. The trouble with being a PSLer is that it means you know a bit about most things but aren't necessarily expert in any of them. And a bit of knowledge, as the saying goes, can be a dangerous thing. I also need to stop if something isn't fitting and start again. Keys aren't infallible but they are usually pretty good when it comes to stuff like tarsal segments.

So I got it wrong. I could beat myself up about it (in fact I already am - I can't help that) or I could say, hey - the process works. The recorder picked up on a suspect record and was proven right. It's an embarrassing episode for me, brand new recorder and I've chumped out already. But this is good, in a way. It means that I will be more stringent with future records, more rigorous with the keys and hopefully become a better recorder and naturalist for it. Yes I'd love to see 10,000 species in Britain. Yes I do try to find new species for my list. Yes I do intend to put Uig on the biological map. But not with duff records and misidentified species.

I took another look at the image of the "Microvelia" I caught in March. Curved first antennal segment and longer than expected middle legs. Pah. I need to slow it down a notch.

Right...on to the next query from Murdo *sigh*

In happier news I just added Greater Plantain to my 1000 Species in a 1KSQ tally, coming in at number 591 590. Growing at the base of the garden gate that I pass through several times a day every single day. 

Thursday, 18 May 2017


Weather started off quite cool and cloudy before a veritable heatwave descended (for all of about fifteen minutes...) then the wind picked up and all became cool once more. Despite all this, I had a free day and intended to squarebash the heck outta NG3963 - which I did. Eleven yearticks for the 1000 Species Challenge, two of them being lifers. Plus the usual heapload of pots and tubes filled with everything from lichens to various flies and even a harvestman, all still to be investigated. 

Once again it was the plants (and the insects on them) that dominated the day. First up were a bunch of quite substantial basal leaves that had me confused until I turned them over

Melancholy Thistle - the last (and only) time I saw this was 5 years ago on LEJOG
Soft prickles around the edge of the leaf and the whitish underside are clear indicators of Melancholy Thistle. I've only ever seen this in southern Scotland whilst walking LEJOG five years back, I don't think I've seen it since. Nice to reacquaint myself with it, especially as it is known from nearby tetrads but not this one, that's one more ticked off the 'missing list'. 

I wandered down the hill to the River Conon itself. Water levels are pretty low at the moment. On one 'island' I found an unfamiliar clump of Ranunculus-type leaves. Then another clump with flowerheads just about to open. I knew what this was, it's a plant I've wanted to find for a long time! 

Huge! This is not your average buttercup!
Just look at the size of that flowerhead!
For me, this is a very exciting find and it'll look a bazillion times better next week when those huge sepals reflex backwards and the petals unfurl. This is the fantastically named Globeflower and something I've never seen before. I'm just a little bit thrilled! The last time I looked for this plant I was halfway up Ben Lawers on yet another doomed Mountain Ringlet quest and that was three years ago now. I got the butterfly eventually (on the third daytripped attempt from Southampton in less than a fortnight...just think about that for a moment...) Actually, sod thinking about it - you can read about it right here

I was pretty stoked at jamming into Globeflower, I'll doubtless be back here innumerable times throughout its flowering period so expect to see some more plant porn in the near future! Talking of plant porn, the local clumps of comfrey have begun flowering and have, as expected, proved to be Russian Comfrey Symphytum x uplandicum which occurs across various parts of Skye. It's entirely new for this tetrad though.

Russian Comfrey, the fertile hybrid between Common and Rough Comfreys
In the woods the Hawthorn is in full blossom. I gave it a good few whacks but there were only a few pollen beetles and a bunch of tiny flies to show for my efforts. I'm determined to add a new longhorn beetle to the island's paltry list (currently consisting of Rhagium mordax and Rhagium bifasciatum) and hawthorn blossom is an obvious starting place. Though not today. Also looking rather fine were the pathside verges full of Cow Parsley

Exciting habbo - there should be all sorts of beetles, bugs and flies in there!
Note the dock leaves in the foreground? Well apart from hosting several microfungi of interest they also host insect life, both on the leaves and within them

Something's been nibbling those leaves!
Gastrophysa viridula - the Green Dock Beetle - guilty on all charges!
Meanwhile, inside the leaf...

See that blemish on the leaf? That's a flymine
Same mine held up against the light - larva is at the very top of the frass pile
There are several possibilities as to species involved. It's probably a Pegomya but there are at least three species that mine in Rumex. My own thoughts are that it will be Pegomya haemorrhoum but without rearing it through that's pure supposition. Either which way it'll be new for Skye (and potentially Scotland) so I shall endeavour to persevere.

Back in the undergrowth I found lots of Nettle Tap Moths Anthophila fabriciana, presumably quite widespread here on Skye but seemingly massively under-recorded. There's a hardcore group of maybe less than 15 moffers here on Skye and only 2 or 3 of those record the micros. In fact I may be the only person day-recording the microleps on Skye! As an aside I also found five Gracillaria syringella and a few Epinotia immundana settled on vegetation. 

Admittedly this isn't the best pic of a Nettle Tap that you'll find online
I spotted a well gnawed Sycamore leaf and soon tracked down the culprit, though figuring out who it was took a bit of effort

Note the conical structures on the 11th segment - cool huh?
This is the caterpillar of Feathered Thorn Colotois pennaria, deduced after a couple of hours worth of checking online sites and asking for help on FB. I still feel it looks a bit too pale, but seemingly this falls within the given ranges, plus it's a fairy common moff here on Skye.

Staying with leaves for the moment, I couldn't fail to see these leafmines all over a young Beech sapling. I initially thought I was looking at Stigmella hemargyrella mines, before realising that these mines were quite different. It wasn't until I was back indoors and checked online that I realised what they actually were.

Coleopterous not lepidopterous!
Young mine still en route to the edge of the leaf
These mines belong to the weevil Orchestes fagi (Fagus being Beech, hence "the Orchestes to be found on Beech". Apt). I took three leaves home with me and checked the larva under a handlens. Yep, quite definitely not a Stigmella! There's a nice link to the species here. This proved to be my second lifer of the day after the awesome Globeflower.

In other news I somehow managed a half-decent shot of Clausilia bidentata

Clausilia bidentata - I don't often find these out of their shells
And beneath a log I found this stunner

Megabunus diadema - sexiest harvestman in the world? Yeah, I reckon so too
I finally managed to add Norway Maple to the tally after seeing the dropped leaves when I first came here in November of last year. This sapling is very obviously self-seeded rather than a planted tree and is also new to the tetrad.

Norway Maple - puts me on 589 species for NG3963 this year

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Diptera new to Skye

Bit of a cop out, but here's the same crappy shot of a fly as posted in the previous blogpost, except I've lightened it up a bit and cropped it some more (which only serves to make it look even more garish than it already was...)

Mesembrina meridiana the Noon-fly
It's a truly awful image, and I can only apologise for thrusting it into your eyes for a second time. But there's a reason: Stephen Bungard (the BSBI plant recorder who visited to check the Mitella ovalis a short while ago as per this page) emailed Murdo MacDonald (dipterist and record collator for the Highland Biological Recording Group) a link to this blog. Murdo responded as follows:

That page you linked to has new dots for two species (assuming they are Uig), including the first Noon-fly for Skye!  His diptera list is a bit thin (and one ID is in need of confirmation), but if he is prepared to send pics and bodies will be hugely valuable.

So, Noon-fly is a shock addition to the Skye list! It's just crazy to discover that what is often a fairly commonplace species back down in the south of England is a significant find up here on Skye. I'm racking up a nice little tally of 'Firsts' for the island, plus with 600 species recorded from NG3963 there will be a fair few new dots on the maps too. It's all good stuff. 

I then emailed Murdo directly, we have now corresponded back and forth. My fly that required confirmation was Portevinia maculata, the Ramsons Hoverfly. Seeing as how large parts of my square are currently carpeted in Ramsons, I quite naturally fully expected to find its associated hoverfly. Which I have done, in two different areas.  Murdo, however, was less than convinced -

I notice you cite Portevinia on Skye, and I would be looking for some confirmation of that.  There are very few records in Scotland, and none anywhere near Skye.

Luckily I have the proof. This fly is also new to Skye (indeed it's new to Western Scotland!) Skye is so under-recorded it's almost too easy to make significant discoveries! Had I thought to check its known Scottish distribution (just 3 records in the East Highlands) I probably wouldn't have bothered trying to find it at all, so ignorance can be a good thing after all.

Portevinia maculata on it's hostplant in Uig Woods
In other news, a small patch of Groundsel and two new moffs for the square in recent days bring my 1000 Species in a 1KSQ Challenge tally to 578 species. Still a considerable amount of work to do, though I hope to hit 600 by the end of the month.
Common Carpet - netted in Uig Woods
Small Phoenix - landed on the house wall

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Lord of the Flies

Made the smallest of dents into the world of diptera today. After taking a mere 45 years to identify my first ever Gymnocheta viridis last week, today I saw three together followed by a couple of singletons and then a pair! And unlike last time I remembered to take a pic. It wasn't until later I realised there was a dirty great smudge across the lens, so most of today's pics are a bit 'soft' (ie crap). Yep, even more so than usual...

Gymnocheta viridis - really is a stunning beast of a fly!
Gymnocheta viridis is a member of the tachinid family of flies. Depending on the species involved, the female will either lay her egg in the path of a hungry caterpillar, on the outside of a hungry caterpillar or directly into the flesh of a hungry caterpillar. One way or another, once on/inside the caterpillar the egg hatches and the newborn maggot immediately sets to devouring the insides of it's unwilling host to the point of killing it. Oh, and the larger tachinids will think nothing of grabbing a beetle, rolling with it until the beetle has its legs in the air and then laying an egg in the softer underparts. Inter-species rape and death sentence all in one. Bit like the film Alien, I guess.

Here's another beauty I found sunning on a tree trunk. This is Mesembrina meridiana aka the Noon Fly. 

Yes I know it's a crap shot. It was bright, ok?
Mesembrina meridiana doesn't lay it's eggs inside unfortunate caterpillars. It's not that gross, this is a refined fly. This one lays its eggs into cow shit. The resulting maggot swims down through the sloppy gloop and basically eats any animal it comes across. It is the largest maggot of any British fly and, to the other inhabitants of the dung community, is probably the equivalent of finding a Great White Shark in your paddling pool. Nice looking fly though.

I briefly nipped into the local shop for lunch and found this fella watching me as I blitzed my way through a Mars Bar/Red Bull combo. Coz no, I'm really not sweet enough already...

Rhagio scolopaceus, known as the Downlooker Snipe Fly
These flies are sit-and-wait predators, usually adopting this characteristic resting position. From a tree trunk or fence post (or in this instance a shop wall) they dart out and grab their aerial prey. They then return to a perch and suck the insides out of their hapless victim. 

Back in the woods again I still hadn't realised my camera lens was dirty which was a tad annoying seeing as this Lucilia let me shove the camera pretty much up it's nose

"Lucilia sp" - there are several in the genus, this one flew off before I could capture it
The genus Lucilia belongs to a family of flies known as blowflies. These are the ones that seek out dead animals and lay their eggs inside the carcass. Shady and cool parts of the corpse are preferred. If ever you've spun a dead deer or rabbit (or lamb up here at the moment) and found it writhing with maggots, some of them could belong to a fly like this. 

I probably have a few of those details mixed up. I'm by no means a dipterist (someone who studies flies), but I think it's a good idea to have some level of understanding and familiarity with the background stories of the various species I encounter. It helps me place them in the grand scheme of things. 

Though sometimes ignorance is bliss - who knew flies could be so bloody disgusting!

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Fungal Mayhem

Uig Wood is currently absolutely brimming with Ramsons that are just starting to come into flower. As long as we don't get frosts or snow or any other stupid weather it should look amazing in about a week's time. The smell of garlic lays heavy in the gorge where the broad leaves have formed a huge dense carpet. Not a single square foot of soil is visible upstream of the weir, just brilliant!

I've already recorded the Ramsons Hoverfly Portevinia maculata, and I've found the Ramsons Rust Puccinia sessilis (which was a lifer for me) plus I've swept a couple of scatophagid flies from Ramsons leaves. I'm assuming these flies are somehow associated with the Ramsons as there are so many of them sitting on the leaves, often in sunlit patches but also in shaded areas, so they aren't just utilising the plants as basking sites. I'll get around to keying them through at some point. Also on the leaves were several of these weevils, sorry the pic is blurry - it looked alright on the back of the camera. Anyone care to save me many hours at the keys and 'scope and suggest a species?

At maybe a centimetre in length could this be the lesser of two weevils?
I've been looking out for another fungus associated with Ramsons and finally, after quite a lot of scanning of leaves, I found it. Not much to look at, in fact I wondered if it was just a damaged leaf at first, but through the 10x handlens I was happy that there was a fungal infection. Here's the leaf in question

Pretty manky looking huh? It's not much nicer up close either
I had a cunning plan which involved sealing the leaf in an airtight container for a couple of days to allow the fungus to spread and produce lots of lovely spores, hopefully allowing me to identify it. For once my plan worked, two days later and it looked like this

Check out that sexy fungal scuzz...
I chopped it up, added water, applied pressure to squeeze out the spores and whacked it all under the microscope, this is what I could see

Grey scuzz at 200x mag - weird or what?
And the spores, squeezed out for easy access!
Turns out to be just what I've been looking for, Botryotinia globosa which affects various members of the Allium (onion/garlic) family turning the leaf into a watery dark pulp. Not very nice for the plant. There's another related fungus that rots the bulbs, but I don't plan on digging them up to check. Maybe if a plant is obviously sickly/discoloured I might, but not just randomly. Too destructive. Plus it's Woodland Trust land and I probably shouldn't be digging up plants without a good reason and permission. Unless it's a Rhododendron, I show little mercy to that bugger.

With apologies to any dipterists reading this, there's been lots of 'bluebottles' and 'greenbottles' sunning themselves on tree trunks this week. Blowflies is probably a better term to use. One spectacularly burnished green-copper looking beast immediately caught my eye. It kept buzzing away and returning to the same patch of trunk, so I waited with my net poised and pretty soon it was in a tube. The strong bristles hanging off the arse end and thorax led me to believe this was a Tachinid and so it proved to be. After years of looking for one, I had finally found Gymnocheta viridis, a common Tachinid and a very, very smart lifer for me. Unfortunately I was too busy concentrating on netting it to think about taking it's picture, but here's a microscope pic of the four rows of dorso-central bristles that confirms the species

Count the big bristles just left of the reflected light patch on its back
It was whilst furtively creeping about the woods, net in hand, that I suddenly noticed a couple of birders walking along the path and staring in my general direction. Then I saw a couple more, and another! What the heck? I surreptitiously collapsed my net and replaced it with my binoculars and warily approached the group. One tall chap was wearing a Heatherlea fleece, ah I've heard of them! I casually ambled up and said hello to which he replied, "Hello, you must be Seth"...ha! You could say I was a little bit dumbfounded! Surely my 'first for Britain garden-escapee plant fame' hadn't spread that far already had it? Turns out I was chatting with Phil Knott, we're both on a couple of Skye Facebook groups and he figured I'd be the only person in Uig Woods sneaking around with a net. Good guess! We chatted for a while before I quit...with a pocketful of potted moffs...

Epinotia immundana - a variably patterned Tortrix moth and swarming at the moment
Only a few additions to the 1000 target, I'm up to 553 species from NG3963 so far this year. Need to get my insect books back - soon!

Friday, 5 May 2017

Springtime - Fer Real!

The weather has been gorgeous here all week with blue skies and proper warmth at last. Maybe too warm, in fact. With the increasing temperatures have come the insects, but they're all moving at full-speed in the sudden heat. I used to have ninja-like skills with the butterfly net (think of Neo dodging bullets in The Matrix) but now I seem to be missing half of everything I swipe for. I'm seriously out of practice (heck, NO netting done at all last year!)

I'm seeing Green-veined Whites every day, including right here in the garden. Oh yeah, I've moved. Still in the hotel complex but now I'm up in a swanky house with a garden and a view across the hills to the north. My old room was nice but this is a definite step upwards. As I write this I can see Swallows buzzing low between the sheep on the hill, a Song Thrush is belting out his life story in the cherry tree outside the window. Same cherry tree that just a few days ago held a Tawny Owl that I suddenly noticed peering back at me as I was watched a Willow Warbler just a few feet above it's head. There's a pair of Tawnies in the garden, the male has taken to calling by day and hence being mobbed by small birds. I accidentally flushed it last week, it was quickly chased by two Hooded Crows as soon as it burst from cover. Here's a pic taken from just up the hill from the house

The church is next door to the hotel and pretty much at the bottom of the garden. My window is just offscreen to the left, all those trees you can see are in the garden itself. There's a burn runs past my room maybe 15 feet distant. It soon deteriorates into a quaggy gloop just beyond the clump of trees, offering quite an exciting microhabitat. I'm almost expecting to find a Northern Waterthrush or Little Crake in there! I'm going to build a moth trap and see what turns up. Should be brilliant I reckon. The only downside are the biting insects, midge season is drawing ever closer and I bet that burn has mozzies too. I had to nip into town today and spotted a midge net that you put over your entire upper torso. Intriguing, wonder if they're any good...

My boss is hellbent on me mowing the lawns to within an inch of their life because the Daisies and Lesser Celandines make it look 'untidy'... but I think I'll get away with leaving the lower area of the garden as a wildlife refuge - hopefully. I'll bioblitz it soon, see exactly what's living down there. Damn good habbo though. Here's one of those Green-veined Whites I was on about

Male Green-veined White (subspecies thomsoni)
Shame there's a whacking great bit of greenery in the way, but this is the first butterfly I've managed to photograph this year so the pic is going up. The individuals up here are more heavily marked than the subspecies that occur in England. Green-veined White is by far the commonest butterfly on Skye. Large White and Small White do occur but are much scarcer. Orange-tips are recent arrivals to the south of the island whilst Brimstones are entirely absent. Not sure I've ever had a springtime without seeing a Brimstone...

I went a-wanderin' on my days off and explored around the back of a barn at the top of the hill. Not sure what the owner hunts, but these look like poison darts for whales, each being about three feet long with rusty barbed wire wrapped around the shafts. No idea!

There was also a nice selection of plants growing in the entrance driveway, more new species for the tetrad list. But mostly I spent time down in Uig Wood and along the riverbank. The lack of recent rain has resulted in a lowering of the river level, it's now fairly easy to cross from one bank to another by jumping from rock to rock to log to rock etc. Ramsons is absolutely rampant in the gorge, as hoped for I soon found it's associated hoverfly - though only one and it was pretty wary, hence this poor, heavily cropped shot

Portevinia maculata on it's foodplant
I shared the image on the UK Hoverflies FB page. Roger Morris (Hoverly Recording Scheme) came back with "Thanks Seth, we don't get many records from Skye"...ha, where have I heard that before! 

Staying with Ramsons, I also found it's associated rust fungus, shown here in all it's 'glory' *ahem*

Ramsons Rust Puccinia sessilis - a lifer for me
Puccinia sessilis is also known as Arum Rust, but seeing as there aren't any Lords & Ladies on Skye (honestly!) I think I'll stick with Ramsons Rust. Also shedloads of scathophagids and a couple of large weevils on the Ramsons, I've yet to attempt keying them through but they'll be new for me (and probably Skye...) when I do. 

I found this bizarre Sycamore seedling amongst lots of perfectly normally-formed seedlings, maybe it was nibbled in the bud stage? Unless it's not a Sycamore...

Have you ever seen anything like this before?
A new range of flowers are now starting to burst forth, the Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage is starting to look a little worn out now though the Lesser Celandines are still going strong

The true native Bluebell. Squashed bulbs exude a 'glue' that was used to bind feathers to arrows! 
Ramsons - my favourite garlic and my plant of the month!
Water Avens - not a plant I've seen very often before. Plentiful enough here though
Back at the river I found a dead lamb sprawled across the rocks. A cloud of blowflies lifted as I approached, but spinning the carcass over I found a rather tasty beetle. Not literally, I'd probably die of some strange disease if I put it in my mouth! But this is what I found

If you're at all squeamish you should probably look away about...5 seconds ago
This rather marvellous beetle is Oiceoptoma thoracicum, one of the Silphids and one I've not seen before. I didn't pot it up for two reasons; firstly I can ID it from the pics and secondly they bloody stink - the pot would have to be chucked and my room fumigated! 

However I did pot this bad boy, didn't take too long to come to an ID which was later confirmed on the Skye Moths Facebook page. This is Depressaria radiella and, surprisingly, yet another lifer for me

Not a very flattering pic, it's much better in real life!
This beast was beneath a security light one night, and yet another new one for me! What a low-lister moffer I am (1053 species and counting...) 

Water Carpet Lampropteryx suffumata beneath a security light on the hotel wall. Sweet!
This awesome booger was also on a wall beneath a security light one night last week. I almost wet my pants when I spied it, straight into a pot and released the following morning in daylight where it's camouflage can be better appreciated.  And yep, yet another lifer for me #moffdude

Brindled Ochre - my absolute fave moff of the year so far!
Other bits n' bobs include this stunning weevil, seen here doing a weird prancing pony impression on top of a gatepost

Hylobius abietis posing for ze camera
Talking of camera poses, here's a pic of my good self exactly five years ago today

Proudest day of my whole fucked-up life