Posted by Graeme Lyons , Tuesday, 28 September 2010 20:11
Last night a friend of mine, Nick Hunt, posted a picture of an oil beetle that he had found in Woodvale Crematorium in Brighton. I became excited and asked if we had got time to go and look for it but as the gates were closed, I didn't fancy scrambling over a fence with a slipped disc. I had to wait till morning then. Nick then told me he had found it under an old piece of cloth and had put it back there. This made me think it was highly likely to still be there in the morning.
Last night I dug out Volume 14, Number 1, October 2002 edition of British Wildlife which has a key to the oil beetles in. I was pretty sure by last night it was Rugged Oil Beetle Meloe rugosus and low and behold it was still there this morning and that was what it keyed out to. Peter Hodge tells me the beetle is spreading but this may be the most westerly record in Sussex. They have a fascinating life history and are very bizarre looking things. A bit like a fat-ant but quite slow and ponderous with it. They are flightless but the larvae hitch a lift with bees before parasitising them in their burrows! A great find by Nick and it has certainly drawn my attention to Woodvale again. Here is the habitat of this rare animal, an old abandoned sleeve from a goth's shirt?!
Nick also found this smart blue carabid hanging around a gravestone, which I keyed out as the Prussian Plate-jaw Leistus spinibarbis, it's quite common but has some pretty cool feeding adaptations. It has a setal cage (a cage of hairs below its face for dropping over springtails, the only way out is via the expanded mandibles!). I might try that with my dinner, I could well use a pair of expanded mandibles. These features are just about visible in this photo.
I found a fungus on my way out that also might be of note and the county recorder has asked me to send some material off to Kew Gardens! Not bad for an hours natural history before work, thanks Nick!