Skippers! Another brief stroll round Beacon Hill Local Nature Reserve, Rottingdean. 26.06.22
At the moment I am staying at my mother's house, following her having surgery, so it is not currently possible for me to make longer journeys. On my mother's doorstep is the Beacon Hill Local Nature Reserve. I made another 45 minute visit there today.
On a worldwide basis, approximately 3,500 of the 18,000 species of butterfly belong to this family, which is often referred to as the skippers since adults are characterised by their rapid and darting flight. In some species the adults rest with the forewings and hindwings in different planes, a characteristic never found in other families. The key characteristic of this family, however, is that all of the veins on the forewing run unbranched from the cell to the wing margin UK Butterflies - Hesperiidae
Male Marbled White
Female Marbled White hanging on in the wind
A species of the Knapweed genus
The striking bluish-violet flowers of Meadow crane's-bill can be seen in lowland hay meadows, roadside verges and grasslands, particularly ones on chalky soils. It flowers between June and August, Meadow crane's-bill | The Wildlife Trusts
Thick-legged Flower Beetle on Bindweed
Species of the day: Thick-legged Flower Beetle, James Duncan, 15 May 2020, Sussex Wildlife Trust Species of the day: Thick-legged Flower Beetle | Sussex Wildlife Trust
The Beetles belong to a simply gigantic group of insects that form the Order Coleoptera. Not only do they make up around 40% of all 'described' insects, they represent approximately a quarter of all currently classified lifeforms on Earth. Of course, it's estimated there are actually five to six times more species across the globe than are currently described, though that doesn't detract from the fact they constitute a staggering volume of biomass. Beetles are ultimately the most dominant, species-rich terrestrial organisms on the planet, fulfilling a huge variety of pivotal ecological roles. Just one of these is the Thick-legged Flower Beetle (Oedemera nobilis) which also goes by a number of other common names, including the 'Swollen-thighed Beetle' and 'False Oil Beetle.' Adult beetles can be distinguished from other insects by their tough, hardened forewings, known as elytra, which essentially give them a form of 'armour plating', covering the membranous hind wings. The word Coleoptera in fact derives from Greek words meaning 'sheath wing.' All beetles have biting mouthparts and the word 'beetle' likely stems from the Old English 'to bite.' Their biting mouth-parts enable them to feed on an immense diversity of food-sources, ranging from plant and fungal matter to an assortment of other animals.
The naming of the Thick-legged Beetle comes by virtue of the male's swollen femora (hind legs). This is a species that appears to have been putting serious time in at the gym, though the females don't exhibit this trait as they're a sexually dimorphic species. Another distinctive feature is owing to their long, thin elytra which don't quite meet at the base, leaving the underwings slightly exposed. It really is a beautifully eye-catching iridescent green beetle, though it may sometimes exhibit a coppery sheen, particularly so in the female's case. It seems decidedly appropriate that its species name of nobilis (noble) seems almost to reflect the magnificent grandeur of its sparkling armour. The family to which this beetle belongs, the Oedemeridae, are sometimes also known as the 'False Blister Beetles', owing to a resemblance to the true 'Blister Beetles' which contain a blistering chemical known as cantharidin. It seems that some family members may in fact contain cantharidin, traditionally used as an aphrodisiac, though also used for the treatment of warts. They may also have anti-tumour properties that inhibit the growth of cancerous cells.
This is the perfect time to spot a Thick-legged Flower Beetle, which will typically be seen crawling amongst flowers, for its diet is made up of pollen. They seem to display a strong preference for large open-flowered species, from families such as Asteraceae (composites), Apiaceae (umbellifers) and Rosaceae (roses), though perhaps the number one species to find them on is the Oxeye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare). They're a widely distributed species across western lowland Europe and the Mediterranean and are now expanding their range northwards through Britain, having once only been common in the south. Like us, they've a lover of the sun and bright hot days offer the best opportunity to spot their dazzling colours. Though more typically a creature of meadows and grassland, they're increasingly being found in parks and gardens that offer the appropriate pollen sources. Being a species that spend its time relentlessly moving between flowers, the Thick-legged Beetle is also a rather wonderful generalist pollinator. Species of the day: Thick-legged Flower Beetle | Sussex Wildlife Trust