Wheeldon copse, maidens cross, alvanley (sj 513735) invertebrate records 2006




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WHEELDON COPSE, MAIDENS CROSS, ALVANLEY (SJ 513735)



INVERTEBRATE RECORDS 2006





Hairy Shield bug Dolycoris baccarum on fruiting wild carrot head




John McGaw - Wirral Wildlife Invertebrate Recorder
October 2006

Introduction

Visits to Wheeldon Copse were made on 24th July and 25th August with Hilary Ash and briefly on 23rd September as part of a Cheshire walk.

The objective was to record invertebrate species within the site with the emphasis on the identification of spiders/harvestmen, hoverflies and true bugs, these being the groups with which I am currently most familiar.

Methodology

Several collecting methods were used:-


- Sweeping of vegetation and aerial insects.

- Direct sampling using a pooter, eg from flower heads or at ground level.

- Beating/shaking vegetation and collecting specimens in a white tray.

- Hand collection under logs, stones & debris.


During the July visit, emphasis was placed on recording invertebrates from the rich wildflower areas present at the more southerly aspect of the site with more attention being given to other areas within the copse during the August visit.

Results

The attached tables list invertebrate groups identified mainly to species level and some to genus/family level only due to immaturity of specimens and/or limited experience with identification.

Wherever possible, both Scientific and English names are given, an indication of the sex of the specimen, UK distribution and some general notes on typical habitat/ecology, mainly on a UK-wide basis but specifically for Wheeldon Copse where indicated.

Discussion

The spiders and harvestmen identified were species typically associated with open habitats containing varying levels of vegetation and scrub. Structural variation within habitat vegetation together with the amount of leaf and plant litter at ground level are important factors determining the number of species present. Araneus sp. require vegetation that is strong enough to support their large orb webs that are strung in the spaces between plants. Theridion sp. build irregular three-dimensional web structures higher up on vegetation with a retreat near the top of the web where the females guard their egg sacs. Pachygnatha sp. are found at ground level during the day but need higher vegetation during the night when they may be found quite high up on plants, often trailing large numbers of silk threads.

Many of the spider species that were found at ground level are typically associated with damper habitat conditions and although the soil is sandy and free draining at Wheeldon Copse, the flattened and rotting plant material at the base of a lot of the flowering plants probably leads to a local increase in humidity at the underlying soil surface.

It is interesting also to note the presence of so-called ‘pioneer’ species such as Lepthyphantes tenuis and Meioneta rurestris which are associated with the colonisation of disturbed ground and may well have been on site soon after the soil inversion operation had taken place.


In contrast to the situation with the spider fauna, it can be seen from the attached species list that several of the plant bug species found are associated with specific host plants while others are more likely to be found if a number of preferred plant species are present together in a given location. The species Zicrona caerulea, Dicyphus globulifer, Oncotylus viridiflavus , Heterogaster urticae and Phytocoris varipes are clearly uncommon in Cheshire as over the last 50 years, there are <5 records of each bug logged in the database of rECOrd, our local biological records centre in Chester Zoo.
There was a rich hoverfly fauna present on the days we were recording and an overview of the species identified together with published information regarding their ecological requirements suggests several reasons why Wheeldon Copse in it’s current state of development is an ideal habitat for them.


  1. Lush herbage and a profusion of flowers for nectar, pollen and courtship activities during high summer when species counts are peaking (mid June – late August). Umbellifers and knapweeds are particularly attractive.




  1. Woodland edge close to rich herbage – the flowers can draw in species from nearby woodland.




  1. Proximity of suitable habitats for early larval developmental stages such as farmyards and Alvanley Cliff ASNW where suitable breeding media are likely to be found eg. mud, fungi, rotting vegetation, cow dung and silage, dead wood and stems and leaves of herbaceous plants.




  1. Following on from (iii) above, ready availability of larval food sources eg. aphids from trees for many carnivorous larvae, shrubs and herbs, water filtrate from stagnant water and wet manure, dead grubs from wasp and bumblebee nests.

In terms of abundance within Cheshire as measured by the number of entries on the rECOrd database over the last 50 years, there is a broad range of counts over the species identified ranging from 300-500 ( Episyrphus balteatus, Eristalis pertinax, Helophilus pendulus ), to <20 ( Platycheirus peltatus, Cheilosia scutellata, Chrysogaster cemiteriorum). It is gratifying to see a mix of both widespread and relatively uncommon species within the sample recorded.


Although most of the site at Wheeldon Copse is heavily vegetated there are some small areas of bare ground within the vegetation and some bare areas along the footpaths where the sandy soil is exposed and where burrows typical of mining bees and/or wasps were noted. These burrows may well be inhabited by the Slender Bodied digger wasp Crabro cribrarius, a handsome yellow and black wasp which was recorded feeding from umbellifer flowers and which hunts and paralyses flies to feed it’s developing larvae. Another digger wasp recorded, Ectemnius continuus, is also predatory on flies but burrows in dead wood rather than sandy soil.
Summary & Recommendations
At the time of the recording visits, Wheeldon Copse was recognised as a very favourable environment supporting diverse invertebrate groups. Key contributing factors were:-


  • profusion of flowers as nectar/pollen source (butterflies, hoverflies, beetles, plant bugs, bees & wasps).

  • range of structural spaces presented by the vegetation (spiders & harvestmen, plant bugs).

  • leaf/plant litter (spiders, beetles, springtails).

  • some bare ground (mining bees/digger wasps, spiders).

  • limited amount of logs and stones (woodlice, slugs, beetles, snails).

  • woodland rides (hoverflies, butterflies)

  • proximity of farmyards (hoverfly + other flies breeding ground).

The management plan for the site published on-line by the Woodland Trust, indicates that ultimately, new woodland will cover ~80% of the site with open ground making up the remaining 20% in area. For invertebrate biodiversity it is important that as much as possible of the open ground which shares it’s margins with both the currently adjoining ancient semi-natural woodland and new woodland planations is retained. Shrubs and tall herbs should be encouraged at the margins and as much of the current floral diversity as is possible (especially umbellifers, knapweeds,composites) should be maintained within the central areas of the open ground.


This should continue to provide for the species which currently spend at least part of their life history in other environments around Wheeldon Copse eg some hoverfly species, and also encourage the migration of invertebrates from the adjoining Alvanley Cliff woodland to hopefully colonise the new woodland plantation as it develops.
Within any open ground that develops, it is important, particularly on dark sandy soil such as this to maintain some small areas of bare ground and also to provide a little more in the way of deadwood/logs/stones than there is at present to extend the range of micro-habitats suitable for invertebrate colonisation.

Acknowledgements

Chris Felton and Steve Judd, Liverpool Museum Department of Entomology for confirmation of some of the spider and true bug records.


Steve McWilliam, rECOrd, for VC58 species distribution information.

Literature sources





  1. Harvey PR.,Nellist DR and Telfer MG (2002) Provisional Atlas of British Spiders Vols 1&2. Biological Records Centre. [information on UK status, habitats and ecology].




  1. Roberts, M.J.(1993) Spiders of Great Britain and Ireland Vols 1&2.Harley Books.




  1. Hillyard P.D. and Sankey J.H.P.(1989) Harvestmen E.J Brill for the Linnean Society of London.




  1. Southwood T.R.E.& Leston D (1959) Land and Water Bugs of the British Isles. Frederick Warne & Co. Ltd




  1. Yeo, Peter F. and Corbet, Sarah A. (1990) Solitary Wasps. Naturalist’s Handbooks 3. Richmond Publishing Co. Ltd



  1. Stubbs A.E. and Falk Steven J.(2002) British Hoverflies. British Entomological

And Natural History Society.

7. Kirby, Peter (2001) Habitat management for invertebrates. RSPB/



WHEELDON COPSE, ALVANLEY



INVERTEBRATE RECORDS 2006






SCIENTIFIC NAME

ENGLISH NAME

SEX/STAGE

UK STATUS

HABITAT & ECOLOGY

ARANEAE

SPIDERS











Theridion sisyphium

Comb-footed spider

Female

Common but more localised in the North

Generally found in gorse, nettles, thistles, oak, blackthorn and other low plants in a variety of habitats

Theridion impressum


Comb-footed spider

Female

Locally frequent

Web on bushes and low vegetation.

Neottiura bimaculatum

Comb-footed spider

Female

Common in the South, less so in the North

Low vegetation, bushes and sometimes lower branches of trees in a variety of habitats.

Araneus diadematus


Garden orb weaver spider

Males, females and immatures.

Common

Variety of habitats, especially undisturbed ones which contain vegetation strong enough to support it’s large and conspicuous orb web.

Araneus quadratus





Four-spot orb weaver

Female

Locally common

As for A. diadematus above, web often found stretched across the gap between plants.

Pisaura mirabilis

Nursery-web spider


Female

Common in the South but more infrequent in the North

Tends to occur in tall vegetation in habitats such as rough grassland, field edges and heathland. Female requires tall herbage in which to construct her tent-like ‘nursery web’ in which the young remain until they disperse.

Enoplognatha ovata

Comb-footed spider


Female

Extremely abundant wherever it occurs

Typical of open habitats containing low broad-leaved vegetation. Has three colour forms; plain yellow (lineata), yellow with two dorso-lateral carmine stripes (redimita), and yellow with a solid shield of carmine on the dorsum (ovata).

Wheeldon Copse specimens were lineata colour variants



Larinioides cornutus

Bankside orb weaver

Female

Common

Tall herbage and rough grassland, especially in damp places.

Pardosa sp.

Wolf spider

Immatures

Species not known

At ground level in a variety of habitats.

Pardosa amentata


Wolf spider

Female

Common

Wide variety of open habitats including grasslands, woodland clearings and waste ground, often in damp situations.

Pachygnatha degeeri


Large-jawed spider

Female

Common

In low vegetation in a variety of habitats such as grassland and woodland clearings. Tends to be found in more humid micro-habitats, eg on grassland, it is found in crevices in the ground or in tussocks.

Pachygnatha clerckii

Large-jawed spider

Female

Less common than P.degeeri

Low vegetation moss and leaf litter in damp habitats

Agalenatea redii

Gorse orb-weaver

Immatures

Local, mainly coastal in the North-West

Rough grassland, heather and gorse – can be on dunes in the North.

Clubiona reclusa

Silk cell spider

Female

Common

Amongst low vegetation and detritus in a variety of habitats including scrub grassland and heathland, often in damp situations.

Clubiona lutescens

Silk cell spider

Female

Common

Found in a wide variety of habitats including woodlands, grassland, gardens and waste places.

Clubiona sp.

Silk cell spider

Immatures

Species not known

This group of spiders construct silk cells in rolled up leaves, under loose bark and stones in a variety of habitats.

Lepthyphantes ericaeus

Money spider

Female

Common

Generally found at or close to ground level among plant stems in heather or grasses. Essentially a ground level species requiring fairly humid conditions

Lepthyphantes tenuis

Money spider

Male

Common

Found in a variety of habitats but is especially associated with grasslands Is considered as a ‘pioneer’ species which will quickly colonise new habitats and take advantage of disturbed ground.

Lepthyphantes sp.

Money spider

Immatures

Species not known

Found in a variety of habitats, all species spinning sheet webs.

Dismodicus bifrons

Money spider

Female

Common

Particularly abundant in grasslands, scrub and fens and is usually found between the upper strata of field layer vegetation and litter at ground level.

Gongylidiellum vivum

Money spider

Female

Common

Prefers undisturbed, well vegetated grassland sites.

Robertus lividus

Money spider

Female

Common

Ground living species found under stones, in detritus, leaf litter and moss in a wide variety of habitats.

Oedothorax retusus



Money spider

Female

Common

Found in most habitats but especially in grassland and agricultural fields. Does not build a web but hunts over the soil surface

Meioneta rurestris

Money spider

Female

Common

One of the commonest spiders living on grasslands, disturbed sparsely vegetated habitats and cultivated land. It is known for it’s super-colonising ability of pioneer habitats.

Zygiella atrica

Orb weaving spider

Male

Common

Constructs an orb web and retreat on low vegetation especially thorny bushes such as blackthorn and gorse.

Xysticus cristatus

Common crab spider

Immatures

Common

Occurs in almost every type of habitat. Large numbers can be found in grasslands and habitats that have undergone some degree of disturbance such as quarries and agricultural fields.

Tetragnatha sp.

Large-jawed orb weaver


Immature

Species not known

Elongate spiders with the commoner species usually being found on vegetation near water

Metellina segmentata

Common orb weaver

Female

Common

Occurs in almost any habitat especially grassland and woodland understorey.

OPILIONES

HARVESTMEN








Paroligolophus agrestis




Male and female

Widespread

Found in wide variety of habitats and is probably the most abundant species in the British Isles. Inhabits every vegetation zone from the ground layer to the canopy of trees.

Oligolophus tridens




Male and female

Common

Widely distributed with a preference for the ground layer of woods and rank vegetation of marshes, hedgerows and gardens.

Nemastoma bimaculatum




Female

Common

A ground living species occurring in moss, leaf litter, under stones and logs etc.

HETEROPTERA

TRUE BUGS











Palomena prasina

Green shieldbug

Nymphs

Locally common

Meadows and woodland clearings, feeds on unripe seeds

Dolycoris baccarum

Hairy shieldbug

Adult and nymphs

Locally common

Flowery dry grassland on diverse flowering plants. Very abundant at Wheeldon Copse in August.

Zicrona caerulea

Blue shieldbug

Adult

Scattered

Habitats are usually on sand, chalk and limestone. Main prey are flower beetles but will also feed on caterpillars.

Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale

Hawthorn shieldbug

Nymphs

Common and widespread

Hawthorn haws and foliage in open places.

Nabis rugosus

Common damsel bug

Adult males and females

Widespread

Low bushes and other vegetation wherever grass is growing.

Dolichonabis limbatus

Marsh damsel bug

Adult males and females

Common

Especially common in damp meadows and amongst rank vegetation.

Notostira elongata

Grass bug

Female and nymphs

Widespread

Habitat is wherever grass is growing, frequently on roadside verges.

Dicyphus globulifer

Mirid bug

Male

Locally common

Throughout Britain may be found on both red and white campion in woods, hedgerows and meadows

Dicyphus epilobii


Mirid bug

Adult male

Common

Throughout Britain may be found in great abundance on it’s host plant, great hairy willowherb.

Calocoris norvegicus


Potato capsid

Female

Common

In mixed herbage at wood margins or neglected pastures, where it feeds on growing points, buds, flowers and unripe fruits of a wide range of plants including composites, nettles and clovers.

Lygus rugilipennis


European tarnished plant bug

Male and female

Very common

Found on a variety of herbaceous plants and shrubs, fat hen, nettles, docks and clovers being most important.

Liocoris tripustulatus

Mirid bug

Female

Common

Found especially on nettles where it feeds on buds, stems, flowers and fruits.

Plagiognathus chrysanthemi

Capsid bug

Female

Widespread

Especially common where plants like scentless mayweed, ragwort, yarrow and black medick are found.

Plagiognathus arbustorum


Capsid bug

Female

Widespread

Found on many different plants but especially on nettles.

Oncotylus viridiflavus

Mirid bug

Male

Local

Locally abundant on it’s host plant, knapweed where it feeds on the flowering head.

Phytocoris varipes

Mirid bug


Male

Common

Found on grasses and other plants such as knapweed, clovers, sorrel and yarrow in a variety of open habitats.

Heterogaster urticae

Nettle groundbug

Female

Local in the North

Inhabits warm sunny fields living at all developmental stages on stinging nettle


D

RED ROCKS INVERTEBRATE SURVEY – 2005/06



REEDBED/MARSH /POOL MARGINS
IPTERA

TRUE FLIES














Eristalis tenax

Drone fly

Male

Widespread

Adults found on a variety of flower heads. Larvae live in organically rich ditches and drains and run-off from dung and silage heaps in farmyards, etc.

Eristalis (Eoseristalis) pertinax

Tapered drone fly

Female

Widespread

As for E. tenax above

Eristalis (Eoseristalis) arbustorum

Dwarf drone fly

Female

Common

Familiar in gardens, open waste ground, and other open habitats with a variety of flowers. Larvae in farmyard drains and temporary pools with cow droppings.

Eristalis (Eoseristalis) intricarius




Female

Widespread

Adults feed on the flowers of umbellifers, meadowsweet and thistles in Summer. Larvae in farmyard drains and in pools with decaying vegetation.

Episyrphus balteatus

Marmalade hoverfly

Male & female

Abundant

Widespread in diverse habitats where there is a variety of flowers.

Syrphus vitripennis

Lesser banded hoverfly


Male

Widespread

In a wide range of habitats.

Sphaerophoria scripta

Long hoverfly

Male

Abundant

One of the commonest open grassland hoverflies.

Chrysogaster solstitialis




Male

Widespread

Usually found where umbellifers occur beside bushes or trees. Larvae live in organically rich mud, usually at the edge of ponds/streams in woods.

Chrysogaster cemiteriorum




Male

Widely distributed

A species of lush meadows and fens usually near scrub or wood margins. It has a fondness for umbellifer flowers.

Syritta pipiens

Thick-legged hoverfly

Male & female

Abundant

At flowers in urban areas, rough meadows, along hedgerows and in marshy situations.. Larvae in compost, manure, silage and other rotting organic matter.

Cheilosia scutellata




Female

Frequent

Woodland is favoured habitat but can also occur on heathland and coastal dunes. Adults are usually encountered on umbellifer flowers. It has been reared from Boletus and allied fungi.

Platycheirus clypeatus




Female

Abundant

One of the commonest and most widespread hoverflies. Often abundant on dry grassland, wet meadows and fens. Essentially a species of open habitats and rich herbage

Platycheirus peltatus




Male

Widespread

As for P. clypeatus above but more closely associated with lowland regions.

Platycheirus scutatus




Male

Widespread

Wood margins provide the typical habitat and the larvae may be found on herbaceous plants and shrubs.

Dasysyrphus albostriatus

White-striped hoverfly


Male

Widespread

This is a woodland edge species.

Melanostoma scalare

Chequered hoverfly


Female

Widespread

Prefers lush herbage in and beside scrub or woodland.

Helophilus pendulus

Brindled hoverfly

Female

Widespread

Frequently found at flowers in sunny situations. Larvae in farmyard drains and wet manure.

Syrphus ribesii

Common banded hoverfly

Female

Abundant

One of the most familiar hoverflies in Britain. In gardens, hedgerows, waste ground and many other habitats.

Volucella pellucans

Pellucid hoverfly

Female

Widespread

One of the characteristic species to be found on bramble and umbellifer flowers especially close to woods and copses.

Sarcophaga carnaria

Grey Flesh fly

Female

Widespread

Develop in carrion and decaying animal matter generally. Adults are frequent visitors to flowers especially umbellifers.

(Wild carrot heads at Wheeldon Copse).



Scatophaga stercoraria

Yellow dung fly

Male

Widespread

Preying on smaller insects usually flies on dung and various flowers. Eggs laid in and larvae develop in cow pats.

Urophora sp.

Picture-winged fly

Female

Species not known

Gall flies whose larva live in thistle heads, stems or leaves.

Tephritis sp.

Picture-winged fly

Female

Species not known

Depending on species, larvae develop in thistle heads, burdock, cat’s ear, ox-eye daisy .

Scaeva pyrastri

Pied hoverfly

Female

Common

On flowers in gardens, waste ground and meadows.

Neoascia podagrica

Bulbous hoverfly

Female

Common

Typical habitat is woodland edge alongside rich herbage.


HYMENOPTERA

BEES,WASPS,ANTS AND SAW-FLIES

Crabro cribrarius

Slender bodied digger wasp


Male

Local

Solitary sand wasp constructing a burrow in sandy ground. The burrow is sunk vertically for 7-8 inches then turned sharply and from this portion, side cells are excavated and provisioned with stung flies. Frequents flowers for adult nutrition.

Ectemnius continuus

Digger wasp

Female

Common

Nests in dead wood and provisions nest with stung flies. Frequents flowers for adult nutrition.

Lasioglossum sp.

Sweat bee (Halictidae)

Female

Species not known

Most species excavate nests in earth.

Bombus lapidarius

Red-tailed bumblebee

Worker/male

Widespread

Wide range of cultivated and uncultivated habitats

Bombus lucorum/terrestris

Buff/white tailed-bumblebee

Workers of these species are very similar

Widespread

Wide variety of habitats.

Bombus pascuorum


Common carder bumblebee

Worker/male

Widespread

Seen primarily as a woodland edge species that has successfully colonised urban & suburban parks, gardens and waste ground.

Ichneumonoidea

Ichneumon flies





Species not known

Very large insect group parasitising other insects and spiders. Observed feeding on wild carrot flowers at Wheeldon Copse; several species.

Apis mellifera

Honey bee




Widespread

Wide range of flower rich habitats.

LEPIDOPTERA

BUTTERFLIES AND MOTHS










Inachis io

Peacock


Adult

Widespread

Wide variety of habitats where flowers abound.

Extremely abundant at Wheeldon Copse in July.


Maniola jurtina

Meadow Brown


Adult

Widespread

Wide variety of habitats where flowers abound.

Pyronia tithonus

Gatekeeper


Adult

Widespread

Wide variety of habitats where flowers abound.

Vanessa cardui

Painted lady


Adult

Widespread

Wide variety of habitats where flowers abound.

Vanessa atalanta

Red admiral


Adult

Widespread

Wide variety of habitats where flowers abound.

Aglais urticae

Small tortoiseshell


Adult

Widespread

Wide variety of habitats where flowers abound.

Gonopteryx rhamni

Brimstone


Adult

Widespread

Wide variety of habitats where flowers abound.

September at Wheeldon Copse.


Lycaena phlaeas

Small copper


Adult

Widespread

Wide variety of habitats where flowers abound. September at Wheeldon Copse.

Pieris brassicae

Large white


Adult

Widespread

Wide variety of habitats where flowers abound.

Tyria jacobaeae

Cinnabar moth


Caterpillar

Widespread

Feeding on ragwort.

COLEOPTERA

BEETLES










Oedemera lurida

Flower beetle


Adult

Common

On wild carrot flowers at Wheeldon Copse.

Rhagonycha fulva

Soldier beetle


Adult

Common

On wild carrot flowers at Wheeldon Copse.

Coccinella septempunctata

7 spot ladybird


Adult

Common

On flowers and grass.

Propylea 14-punctata

14 spot ladybird


Adult

Common

On flowers and grass.

Curculionidae

Weevils


Adult

Species not known

On flowers and grass.

Apionidae

Weevils


Adult

Species not known

On flowers and grass.

Cassida rubiginosa

Tortoise beetle


Adult

Common

On creeping thistle at Wheeldon Copse.

Ocypus olens

Devil’s coach horse


Adult

Common

Under log at Wheeldon Copse

Carabus sp.

Ground beetle


Adult

Species not known

In plant litter at ground level at Wheeldon Copse.

DERMAPTERA

EARWIGS










Forficula auricularia

Common earwig


Adult males and females and nymphs

Common

Widespread in open vegetated habitats

ORTHOPTERA

GRASSHOPPERS AND CRICKETS










Chorthippus brunneus

Common field grasshopper


Adult males and females

Common

Abundant in a wide variety of habitats such as meadows, parkland, waste ground and roadsides.

COLLEMBOLA

SPRINGTAILS










Entomobryoidea

springtails


Adults and nymphs

Species not known

Larger springtails found mainly in leaf litter at Wheeldon Copse and under logs.

ISOPODA

WOODLICE










Philoscia muscorum

Common striped woodlouse


Male & female

Common

Under logs and stones.

Oniscus asellus

Common shiny woodlouse


Male & female

Common

Under logs and stones.

Porcellio scaber

Common rough woodlouse


Male & female

Common

Under logs and stones.

PULMONATA

SNAILS AND SLUGS










Cepaea nemoralis

Banded snail





Common

In woods, hedges and grasslands including dunes

Arion ater

Black slug





Common

Grassland, hedges, gardens,woods,moors. Under logs/stones.


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