Saturday, 27 May 2017

Who's the Daddy Longlegs Now?

I can fairly frequently be found sneaking around the security lights/laundry shed of the hotel complex after the hours of darkness. No, I'm not a vampire or a weirdo (actually yeah, I guess I probably am a bit of a weirdo to be fair...) it's just that lights attract insects and who knows what could be sat on a wall beneath a security light just waiting to be discovered? I usually have at least 3 or 4 small pots and a camera in my pocket. With the recent warm spell we've been experiencing up here I had high hopes of a moth-filled light trap and loads of goodies sat on the walls. Well the trap didn't attract anything (other than a few small flies, pah) but the security lights and laundry shed have been quite productive.

I've picked up a small gathering of followers on my nightly excursions. Sometimes a member of staff or two will join me on my 'rounds of the lights' which is usually pretty entertaining. "So is it true that butterflies are all female and only live for a day?" (dafuq, are you actually four years old?) "Is it true that daddy long legs are the most poisonous animal on earth?" (you mean venomous not poisonous, and no!) "Did you know a Hedgehog can kill a fox in a straight fight?" (what if they're both gay?) "LOOK at the size of that spider, can I pick it up?" (go for it, but they can bite... ) etc etc.

Anyway, the laundry shed is brilliant. It's full of Amaurobius similis which I've watched grow larger and larger and larger over the past few months. Some of the females are huge! Crappy pic, but here's one that was plucked off the ceiling by one of my followers (haha...) and passed around for close inspection before I rescued her and popped her onto a window sill before she was dropped yet again or began biting folks in retaliation

A rather large female Amaurobius similis
Also in the laundry shed were a couple of the White-headed Clothes Moth Endrosis sarcitrella, a few Common Pugs, a couple of Agonopterix heracliana and, best of all, an Agonopterix ciliella which was a lifer for me! The hindwing shows five darker lines across the width of the cilia which immediately distinguishes it from the closely related Agonopterix heracliana which only has one dark band at the base of the hindwing cilia. Other than that they're pretty damn difficult, if not impossible, to confidently tell apart from one another. It's a common moff and one I should really have recorded years ago. Anyway, it's been noted now.

The outside walls are always teeming with the black millipede Tachypodoiulus niger and, more often than not, a handful of Rough Woodlouse Porcellio scaber, a few Tree Slugs Lehmannia marginata and plenty of unidentified gnats. Oh and the midges are here. I've been waiting for this day with a mild sense of dread. So far they aren't too bad but I'm sure that'll change soon enough. 

One rather swanky looking fly caught my eye from afar. I thought I knew what it was but decided to play it safe and ask an expert for confirmation. This bad boy had a legspan of around 10cm! The patterned wings give it away.

Tipula maxima - the largest cranefly in Britain!
This is a species I've seen before though not very often, despite its widespread distribution across much of mainland Britain. I checked with Murdo MacDonald, he agrees it's Tipula maxima, which is rather pleasing when you look at its known Scottish distribution

Map for Tipula maxima - taken from the NBN Gateway
So, that's yet another 'first' for Skye that I've discovered, it's got to be approaching twenty species by now I reckon. Once I work through the backlog of stuff on pins/in the fridge I'm certain that figure will rise. 

Right, it's 10:15pm and probably about time to collect my washing from the tumble dryer. I shall be taking my pots and camera just in case. Wonder who's in there tonight....

EDIT: The following day (ie today as I type this) I received an email from Murdo MacDonald (dipterist and records collator for the Highland Biological Recording Group) informing me that Tipula maxima has already been recorded from Skye. He sent me a link to the The Provisional Atlas to the Long-palped Craneflies of Britain & Ireland and sure enough there's a dot on the map for Skye. Good ol' Murdo, ruthlessly thorough! 

From the 1992 Craneflies Atlas

No comments:

Post a Comment