Close to home

kitenet's picture

My most recent eight new species have all come from close to home, in fact actually in my home for one of them.


Last year I noticed a plant on a nearby road verge, with yellow flowers and four petals, and spent some time trying to work out what sort of crucifer it was, but failed to come up with a satisfactory ID. It's flowering in the same place this year, and I again spent some time puzzling over the crucifer (cabbage family) pages, before it struck me that the leaves looked a bit like a poppy. So I tried the poppy family instead, and there it was - Greater Celandine Chelidonium majus (which is actually in the poppy family not the celandine family). I don't recall ever hearing of Greater Celandine before, but apparently it is quite a local archaeophyte that likes chalky soils. Thanks to everyone who provided confirmation via iSpot.


And today I noticed a tiny (c. 2mm) wasp on the inside of my front door. I wasn't at all sure what sort of wasp it was to start with, but I was hoping that it would be one of the very neglected species in family Bethylidae, and that's what it turned out to be. It keys out as Bethylus dendrophilus, which is quite a rarity according to David Baldock's Wasps of Surrey, although there are so few records of bethylids in general that it is hard to know what their status is. My specimen will need to be confirmed, but it's definitely something different from the one and only other time I've found a bethylid.


Other recent additions have mostly been spiders from the garden (I've not recorded spiders very consistently before) and beetles from the compost heap. No need to travel far to twitch new species!

Great Celandine  Bethylus dendrophilus  Bethylus dendrophilus close-up showing ocelli close to hind border of head



kitenet's picture

After further checking (thanks to David Baldock and John Burn) it seems that the bethylid wasp in the above post is not Bethylus dendrophilus, but Bethylus boops. The RES key to Bethylus is now out-of-date: B. boops has been added to the British list since the key was published (added by Richard Jones, see his blog post), while B. hyalinus (which is in the key) is no longer considered a good species.


I'm told that one of the distinguishing features for B. boops is that its eyes have hairs, which are clearly visible on my specimen. The implication being that the other species in the genus don't have eye hairs (which is also what Richard's blog post implies). I'm uncertain as to how distinctive the position of the ocelli is - my specimen has the ocelli very close to the hind edge of the head, which keys straight out to dendrophilus in the RES key, and I'm now not sure whether the position of the oceli is a valid distinction for both boops and dendrophilus, or whether it is a character that varies and doesn't help the ID.


Anyway, the moral is that old keys to obscure insect groups need to be treated with caution, and that it's always worth consulting an expert if you have found something that seems unusual.

Bethylus boops

Adrian Knowles's picture

This solves my mystery, too! Just keyed out an unsatisfactory B. dendrophilus but it has hairy eyes and a very flattened cellar triangle!