Tag Archives: beetles

Violet Ground Beetle

30 Apr

Bunty found this beetle whilst geocaching, and we were both so enamoured by its Cadbury-purple trimming that I picked it up and tried to pose it for a photo. Damn thing wouldn’t keep still. It crawled round and round my hand, up and down my sleeve, and tried to hide in my armpit. Still, we managed in the end, although the colour here isn’t as rich and iridescent as in real life.

According to my field guide, this is the most common type of ground beetle on the British Isles. I’m sure I would remember if I had seen one like this before. How have I managed to go so long without spotting one?

My field guide also says that the violet ground beetle has many subspecies. The two most important are Carabus violaceus, with a stout body and smooth wing cases, and Carabus purpurascens, with a narrow body and furrowed wing cases. They tend to be found in woodland.

This one has a narrow body and smooth wing cases. It was hiding in an ants’ nest under a rock on the Sherrifmuir moorland. Wouldn’t it be fun if it turned out Bunty had uncovered a new subspecies?

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Spawning Glory

27 Mar

The other day I was traipsing disconsolately through the dusk near the wildlife pond, when the ground started to move. The leaf litter all around my feet heaved and crept like a scene out of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Here is the pond on a sunny day such as today:

As the ground moved, I bent over and peered at it, then prodded at the leaf litter with my fingers. It was clammy.

“Ribbit”, it said.

It was alive with frogs, hopping and scrambling away from me. They were full-grown adults, and they were all over the field and the lane. I remembered that I had released a large bucketful of frogspawn into this pond a year ago, because Bunty’s mother’s teacup-sized pond was so choked up with the stuff that it had pushed out most of the water. The owners of the wildlife pond had shortly thereafter added a shoal of carp to their pond, so I had assumed none of my frogspawn would have survived. I was wrong!

I gathered up several handfuls of frogs and carried them gently to the wildlife pond’s edge. I don’t know whether they were looking for water, but it somehow felt like the thing to do – the pond can’t be seen from ground level, and it is reached over the top of a high bank formed from surplus soil when it was dug out.

I returned this morning, to see if they were still there so that I could photograph them. The leaf litter was stirred only by occasional breezes, and the frogs were nowhere to be seen. I did, however, find watersnails.

I found stubbly little Lymnaea trunculata, and long and elegant Lymnaea stagnalis. One L. stagnalis floated lazily past on its back. At first I thought it was dead, but when I touched its foot with a piece of reed, it curled its foot around it. Lymnaea have lungs and can breathe air, so perhaps it was taking an extra dose of oxygen.

I do love dabbling in ponds. I pottered around the edge, finding diving beetles and water spiders and then, suddenly, I noticed it: drifting among the weeds like the lovechild of a cloud and a coral reef, a conglomeration of frogspawn.

That's "frog eggs" to you Americans

It was close to the area where I had placed my handfuls of frogs. I therefore take full credit. These are my spawn. I made them.