The solitary wasp Pemphredon austriaca (Kohl, 1888) is a species not currently recorded in the UK. It appears to have been increasing in the Netherlands in recent decades and there is a good chance that it could be overlooked in the UK.
This small, black wasp shows a preference for using Marble Galls, which are caused by the gall wasp Andricus kollari and found on oak. A. kollari emerges from these spherical galls, leaving small circular emergence holes. Other insects then take advantage of these chambers for shelter or nesting, including P. austriaca, which constructs nest cells within the gall.
February and March are the perfect months to collect some of these Marble Galls (where you can see the circular emergence holes) and provide something else to keep an eye out for on those familiar lockdown walk routes. Keep them in a plastic pot with some fine mesh or muslin secured over the top, or a specific mesh rearing container if you happen to have one, and make sure they are labelled with a location and the date collected. They should be kept as close to ambient temperature as possible, so a shed or covered area outside is ideal. The wasps are on the wing from May to August on the continent, so it’s worth starting to check the container every few days (or ideally daily) from mid-April to see if anything emerges.
If you are lucky enough to have some potential wasps emerge and are not sure how to identify them, get in touch with BWARS: https://www.bwars.com/content/bwars-contacts Happy hunting and fingers crossed for another wasp species to add to the UK list!
For more information, see this paper from the Netherlands: https://edepot.wur.nl/347358Read more
Total monthly rainfall: 159.5 millimetres. Maximum daily rainfall: 36 millimetres (4th Dec)
Altogether there were 19 days when measurable rain fell, and 17 days with 100% cloud cover for at least part of the day. There was an overnight gale on December 26th into the 27th which brought down many young trees, and caused all ponds to overflow.
Maximum temperature on the warmest day was 13°C on December 21st. Maximum temperature on the coldest day was 2°C on the 31st. There were overnight frosts on December 1st, 2nd, 7th, 8th, 13th, 18th, 25th, and 28th to 31st. Most of these days also suffered from early fog and a cold wind-chill. All ponds were thinly part-frozen on the 31st.Read more
The noble chafer Gnorimus nobilis is a large metallic beetle which has been rare in Britain for the past century. The species is associated with traditional orchards and wood pasture where it's larvae feed on old, decaying wood within live trees.
In Britain, the species has been rare for the past century and is classified as ‘Vulnerable’, being a Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) species. Traditional orchards are designated priority habitats but are increasingly being lost due to modern orchard management techniques or clearing of orchards for development.
Dr. Deborah Harvey of Royal Holloway, University of London has previously run a monitoring scheme for the species alongside the People's Trust for Endangered Species (PTES). She is now looking for volunteers for the 2021 season who would be prepared to deploy traps and lures in appropriate habitats and check them regularly in June this year.
Image: gbohne from Berlin, Germany, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia CommonsRead more
Due to the cancellation of our field programme in 2020, there will unfortunately be none of the usual meeting reports to compile into this year's Bulletin. To make up for this, the Assistant Editor would be happy to receive any reports from members, whether from your house or garden, your local area or further afield in Kent. These can be accounts for specific sites and occasions or observations of notable species. If you are interested in contributing, please get in touch via the website.
The deadline for submissions is 15th February.