Friday, 24 October 2008

Parasitica

Following on from Charlie's superb series of photos of the parasites on the LBAM larva I thought I would make a plea for others to post any images they record and keep both the remains of the larva and an adult of whatever parasite emerges. I have the contact address of Dr Mark Shaw at Edinburgh University who is one of the foremost experts on parasitica in the UK. Mark is always grateful for any specimens with data that you can collect for him. He will often be able to name the parasite and let you know details about it. He also uses the specimens sent as voucher material in the university collection, so you will be contributing to our long term knowledge of the parasitica collected. I obviously do not want to post Marks details on the web, but you can contact me via the blog or email for the details

As an example of how useful specimens from Calderdale can be; I used to pot up any adult parasitica I found in my moth trap and pop em in the freezer to store them. Once a month I would put all the parasitica collected into a specimen pot of a alcohol and send them off to Mark. He used all the specimens he could ID as voucher specimens in the uni collection for others to study. The specimens from Calderdale were even more useful in the fact that they came from a more northerly aspect of the UK than most specimens in the collection which in the main came from the SE of England. Several differences where noted between the Calderdale and the other specimens in terms of size and other minor details that had not been noted before in descriptions. In fact one species (whose name escapes me at the moment) was in fact THREE time larger than any other specimen of this species that Mark had seen and he had no idea thay could grow to this size. Several of the specimens I sent had not been recorded from Yorkshire before, so they also contributed to the known distribution. For those who might interested in knowing more about the parasitica Mark has written a small inexpensive book for the AES about them.

When rearing larvae I find that quite a high proportion of then have been got at by some parasite or other and in many cases you have no idea until the parasites emerge from the larva or pupa. I had an ichneumon emerge from an Elephant Hawkmoth pupa once spring which frightened the hell out of me when I opened the pot expecting to see an adult Elephant Hawk only to be confronted by a bloody enormous black and white and very angry inchneumon from which I fled at a rapid rate ! I also used to get lots of a particularly nasty Tachinid fly from Northern Egger larva. The egger larvae used to feed up as normal but them just as they were moving around the tubs seemingly getting ready to pupate they would suddenly stop moving and out would wiggle dozens of small white maggots eating their way out of the by now hopefully dead larva. In about 20 mins the larva went from a seemingly happy healthy Egger to a empty bag of skin.I have some photos somewhere of these maggots munching their way out and will see if I can find them and post them on the blog

1 comment:

charlie streets said...

I look forward to seeing the photos Paul.

Yes, I agree that some of the larger wasps can give you a nasty surprise when you're expecting a placid moth sitting quietly on the side of the pot when instead you're confronted by a hyper active wasp running round the pot like it's doing the wall of death,desperate to escape, antennae twitching manically.

BWARS website link is:http://www.bwars.com/