Researching county’s neglected insects

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Bedfordshire Natural History Society hosted a one-day conference at Marston Vale Millenium Country Park Forest Centre on the theme of Neglected Insects in Bedfordshire.

It was instigated by Alan Outen and was part of an initiative of the same name that Alan launched in 2010 and has already discovered a large amount of additional interest and records. The Beds Invertebrate Group, which Alan founded in 2012, also now has more than 30 members.

Butterflies and moths, dragonflies and damselflies, grasshoppers and crickets, lacewings, true bugs (Heteroptera) and some other groups have been well-studied in the county over many years.

The objective of the initiative overall and the conference purpose is to try and encourage greater interest in insect groups previously not well studied in the county (and elsewhere) and to encourage greater recording of these.

During the conference there were specialist speakers coming from across the country – all well known as leading workers on their groups, most are national recorders and run workshops .

The main presentations were: Ian Wallace (Liverpool) Caddis-flies, Tristan Bantock (London) Leaf-hoppers and allies, Joe Botting (Wales)- Psyllids.

Keith Alexander (Exeter) Barkflies (outdoor Psocoptera).

Peter Shaw (Whitelands College, Roehampton) Springtails (Collembola).

John & Barbara Ismay (Aylesbury) Introduction to Diptera (two winged flies).

David Clements (Cardiff) Picture-winged Flies.

Chris Raper & Matthew Smith (Berkshire) Tachinid Flies.

Alan said: “These groups include many beautiful, attractive, curious, weird and interesting species.

“Whilst historically they were often considered difficult to identify, the literature and resources available are now much better, and we should be taking full advantage of these if we are to meet the stated aims of our society.

“The conference was a great opportunity to learn more about some of the amazing species that are known to occur in Bedfordshire, as well as other species that we should be looking for.

“The conference was fully booked with 100 delegates coming from as far away as Norfolk, Notts and Isle of Wight.”

Some of the species being covered by the research include:

Red & Black Froghopper (Cercopsis vulnerata) has proved to be widespread across Beds

Rhododendron leafhopper (Graphocephala fennahi) has been found at Sandy Lodge and at Woburn.

Green Leafhopper (Cicadella viridis) has been found at sites near Shefford, Maulden, Flitwick, Toddington, Leighton Buzzard, Sandy, Ampthill, Marston Moretaine, Eaton Bray and Bedford.

Mottled Sedge Caddisfly (Limnephilus sparsus) has been found at several locations in the county both near water and attracted to light.

The Forest Bug Fly (Phasia hemiptera), pictured, has larvae which are parasitic on Forest Bugs and sometimes other Shieldbug species. It has been found near Maulden, Flitwick, Sandy, Ampthill, Yelnow, Bigglewade, Leighton Buzzard, Dunstable, Luton.