Posts Tagged ‘Arachnids’


April 19, 2021

Last time I said I would write a separate entry about spiders, but I realise that I have already covered two of the three recent interesting finds. The third may be Philodromus emarginatus which would be an excellent record for the west coast of Scotland. However, it was immature when captured and so I have been rearing it. It has moulted once but is still not mature enough for a definitive i.d.

Philodromus emarginatus maybe

Some shore-work with two grandsons led to two useful fish records, Eelpout (Zoarces viviparus) which is unusual in producing live young, and Shore Rockling (Gaidropsarus mediterraneus). Both, but particularly the latter, are very useful additions to the local marine list.

Whilst on the shore we found a number of small flatworms that are probably Procerodes littoralis, which according to MARLIN: “Unlike similar species….moves like a leech when disturbed, rather than moving smoothly”. I actually thought they were leeches initially, but that didn’t seem likely in a salty pool at the top of the shore.

Procerodes littoralis Probably

Some interesting micromoth larvae have turned up – probable Eupoecilia angustana f. fasciella (Marbled Conch) swept off heather (Calluna vulgaris) and almost definitely Stictea mygindiana (Cowberry Marble) mines and larvae on Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi). The former has very few records locally; the latter is new to the vice-county. I am trying to rear adults from both.

This springtail may be Tomocerus sp. and this water cricket is Velia caprai:

Velia caprai is quite common on Skye & Raasay but the other species known in the Highlands, Velia saulii, has no records on NBN for this area. This picture from Bernard Nau’s draft Keys to Aquatic & Semi-aquatic Heteroptera shows how to tell them apart easily enough.

Thanks are due to Nigel Richards, Seth Gibson and Stephen Morean for help with identifications.

Inverts and Plants

March 18, 2021

Someone has planted two groups of three Monkey-puzzle trees (Araucaria araucana) on the lower slopes of Temptation Hill on Raasay. (There could be more.) This seems slightly strange to me, but perhaps no stranger than the Forestry planting little patches of cypress all over the place in the same area. They should perhaps have been planted more than one metre apart if they are to grow to full size.

Araucaria araucana (Monkey-puzzle)

Nearby a small forest of Ribes sanguineum (Flowering Currant – silly name as all Ribes species flower!) is coming into flower:

Ribes sanguineum (Flowering Currant)

Recent finds have included lots of this Globular Springtail on a picnic table (Thanks Stephen M for identification):

Dicyrtomina saundersi

and, yes, those marks at the bottom of the picture are millimetre divisions.

Larvae of The Drinker were out in numbers yesterday:

The Drinker

There were lots of this common fly sunning themselves on a wooden bridge across the Arish Burn:

Phaonia tuguriorum

I see this one pretty much all year:

The moth trap has been out a couple of times but has yielded nothing new for the time of year in the way of moths. Adults caught so far this year are Dotted Border, Hebrew Character, Mottled Grey, Pale Brindled Beauty and Red Chestnut.

However a coouple of days ago there were no moths in the trap, just a few gnats and this fine spider:

Clubiona phragmitis

According to the Spider and Harvestman Recording Scheme website this species is “very scattered…. in northern Britain”, “can be found in most wetland habitats, especially in emergent vegetation at the edge of water and occasionally on sand dunes” and “adults have been found throughout the year, but mostly in late spring to mid-summer and late summer to early autumn”. My specimen is not far from wetlands but I am not sure that it is late spring yet nor that being found in a moth trap is entirely normal. Something of an outlier as a record.

The Raasay Mines

March 18, 2021

A little over one hundred years ago a poor seam of iron ore on Raasay was mined for strategic purposes. A splendid book about the mine was published in 1990 and subsequently updated:

There was both opencast and underground mining. A barrier across the entrance to No. 1 Mine was put in place quite a lot of years ago:

This is what the entrances to No. 2 Mine looked like in 1917:

but this one was never worked owing to geological issues and subsequently the entrances were partially filled in. The biggest remaining hole looks like this:

The lower entrance is even less inviting:

I had started checking on these in the hope of finding hibernating Herald moths and perhaps other interesting critters, but I have decided that discretion is the better part of valour. In addition to a torch one would need ropes, back-up, absoultely no sense of claustrophobia and possibly a deathwish.

Anyway, I did find this spider in one of the entrances:

Metellina merianae

Early February at Home

February 9, 2021

There is a lone curlew on the shore. I think there was just one this time last year – perhaps the same individual. Recently, there have been a flock of Purple Sandpipers, Turnstones and a pair of Goosanders to add to the usual Red-breasted Mergansers, Mallards, Eider, etc.

I have recorded Rhododendron Bud Blast before. Then it was called Pycnostysanus azaleae, but now it is Seifertia azaleae.

Seifertia azaleae

Several galls are present on small sallows along the road. I opened one up and found it to be caused by the gall midge Rabdophaga salicis.

Early one morning, I found this little chap in the bathroom, Amaurobius similis or perhaps A. fenestralis :

Amaurobius cf similis

We are having a period of cold weaher but escaping the serious snow affecting much of Scotland.


January 31, 2021

The weather and lockdown have limited activity considerably, but I have managed a few things such as second records for Raasay for Cupressus lawsoniana (Lawson’s Cypress) and Olearia macrodonta (New Zealand Holly), the former planted, the latter looking self-sown.

Yesterday the gorse near the shore yielded a spider, Metellina sp.

Metellina sp.

and several types of fly:

A window gnat. Sylvicola sp. probably S.cinctus

If it hadn’t escaped I could have got it to species as Seth pointed me towards a relatively simple key to the four British species. Also, there were a couple of Black Flies (I’m not tackling them), a common seaweed fly Coelopa frigida, though not so common in January, and a Heteromyza, possibly H. commixta but perhaps H. rotundicornis – it may be possible to sort this out with expert help. Later: confirmed as H. commixta.

Thanks to Seth (flies) and Katie (spider) for identifaction.

In the Garden 29th May 2020

May 29, 2020

I had omitted Plantago lanceolata (Ribwort Plantain) and Ranunculus repens (Creeping Buttercup) from my list of weeds flowering in the garden. Both have been flowering for some time, but now I can add Conopodium majus (Pignut), Galium saxatile (Heath Bedstraw), Trifolium repens (White Clover) and Veronica serpyllifolia subsp. serpyllifolia (Thyme-leaved Speedwell). The last flowers are on the Ficaria verna subsp. fertilis (Lesser Celandine); I am not sure that it will quite make June.

Ficaria verna subsp. fertilis

Ficaria verna subsp. fertilis (Lesser Celandine)

I fell over a large toad on my way to turn on the moth trap a few nights ago, but my other recent animal records have involved arthropods. This Ichneumon is Ophion sp., but that is as far as I am going as it is a very tricky genus, and the taxonomy is in flux. Even if that were not so, it would undoubtedly challenge my skills to sort it out.

It has been a good couple of days for micro-moths with my very own Large Longhorn (the arrows show the end of the antennae, explaining the vernacular name):

Nematopogon swammerdamella

Nematopogon swammerdamella

plus three others, two of which I had not seen here before:

Brilliant hairstyle.

Other critters of note have included this sawfly with a pentagon on its thorax

Pachyprotasis rapae

Pachyprotasis rapae    (Thanks, Jenni)

and this spider

Microlinyphia pusilla

Microlinyphia pusilla     (Thanks, Katie)

In the Garden 19th May 2020

May 19, 2020

A fly I caught yesterday turns out to be Delia radicum known variously as the cabbage fly, cabbage root fly, root fly or turnip fly. Thanks, Laurence. Whilst pleased to have the first record in VC104 on NBN, I am less than fully delighted given we have just planted out all our Brassicas.

Delia radicum

Delia radicum

The Goat Willow (Salix caprea) out the front is developing galls that I suspect are caused by the gall wasp Euura pedunculi.

Euura pedunculi gall on Salix caprea

Euura pedunculi gall on Salix caprea

and not far away an alder (Alnus glutinosa) has the early stages of Alder Wrinkle gall caused by the fungus Taphrina tosquinetii. Compare the size of the infected leaf with normal leaves.

Taphrina tosquinetii on Alnus gluinosa

Taphrina tosquinetii on Alnus gluinosa

A spider in the polytunnel turns out to be a Toad Spider or Walnut Orb-Weaver (Nuctenea umbratica). Thanks, Katie.

Walnut Orb-Weaver

Walnut Orb-Weaver

In the Garden 15th May 2020

May 15, 2020

Last Sunday a young otter was exploring our garden – something we have never seen before, though we see them beyond the garden on the shore and in the sea. There has been a Great Northern Diver in the bay for some time and, as it is May, we can hear cuckoos.

I managed to identify a harvestman – probably the easiest to recognise with its spiky headdress:

Megabunus diadema

Megabunus diadema

and Bruce kindly identified a fungus for me that is growing on dead Euphorbia griffithii (Griffith’s Spurge) stems as Phomopsis euphorbiae. It is not the most photogenic of things, but there are only two records on NBN Atlas one of which is in Scotland by Murdo – identified by Bruce a few years ago.

Phomopsis euphorbiae

Phomopsis euphorbiae

Last night’s moth trap was very limited, but gave me my first Pale-shouldered Brocade of the year.

Pale-shouldered Brocade

Pale-shouldered Brocade

The Tutsan (Hypericum androsaemum) is nearly in flower:


Tutsan in bud

and I found evidence of sharks in the garden.

lesser-spotted dogfish

Lesser-spotted Dogfish Egg Case

The egg case of what is now officially known as the small-spotted catshark, will have been brought in with seaweed used to fertilise the vegetable beds, it has not decomposed over the winter as has most of the seaweed.

Beinn Dubh a’Bealaich and Beinn na Seamraig

August 27, 2019

Yesterday proved a windy but sunny and warm day for a walk in the Kinloch & Kyleakin Hills. I had hoped to find Epilobium anagallidifolium (Alpine Willowherb) and Gnaphalium supinum (Dwarf Cudweed) from slightly vague records made last century, but it was not to be.

There were masses of Lycopodium clavatum (Stag’s-horn Clubmoss) for over 2.5km along the track and the dwarf version of Goldenrod (Solidago virgaurea subsp. minuta) higher up. I am not consistent about recording the latter as it seems to me to me just that – dwarfed by exposure.


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I was surprised to see that I had recorded Equisetum sylvaticum (Wood Horsetail) for the first time ever in NG71 and also the first post-1999 records for Equisetum fluviatile (Water Horsetail) and Equisetum palustre (Marsh Horsetail), earlier records being for just “NG71”.  I knew NG71 needed more work this season but had forgotten the apparent absence of horsetails.

Up the top there was this harvestman, probably Mitopus morio (Thanks, Seth) with a mite attached – possibly Trombidium breei.

Harvestman with mite

Harvestman with mite

Catch-up: Non-botany at Home

April 23, 2019

Our first cuckoo of the year woke me up at 0450.  April 23rd is a popular date for the first cuckoo at West Suisnish.

For those living further south, a black-headed gull will be a common sight, but not here:

Black-headed Gull190409

Black-headed Gull at West Suisnish

This little spider is Textrix dendiculata, the toothed weaver (thanks for i.d. Gemma) and was basking on the outside of the house:

Textrix dendiculata

Textrix dendiculata (Toothed Weaver)

The moth trap has been out a few times with Hebrew Character moths being by far the most frequent but this Early Thorn was nice:

Early Thorn

Early Thorn

and Seth has kindly determined this carabid beetle from the bathroom basin as Pterostichus nigrita:

Pterostichus nigrita

Pterostichus nigrita