Amourobius ferox

Amourobius ferox
By Peter Byles

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Tawny owl

Managed to catch the tawny owl sunbathing yesterday in a lovely setting in Pembrokeshire.

Wild West Offshore Adventure 18th June

The shearwaters in the wonderful light at sunset were probably the highlight for me on the trip last Sunday evening.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Green nettle weevils

Not many butterflies on my transect today, but there were a few other mini-beasts. Like these green nettle weevils - Phyllobius pomaceus.  

Apparently they're only ever found on nettles - according to one website - but those I saw today were mostly on meadowsweet (though there were nettles nearby). But I've just noticed the same website says they are not much more than 1/8 inch long - which isn't what I was seeing.  And indeed the insect book shows them as being at least 3/8 inch.

So, some more googling was required.  It seems there are ten Phyllobius species in Britain, of which P pomaceus is the largest at about 9mm - 1/2 inch.  There is another important feature - a spur or tooth on the on the femur of each leg - which can be seen on the original full-sized pictures.

The author of the first website I looked at must have seen the small green nettle weevil, P. roboretanus which is only 3.5mm.

Incidentally, the name pomaceus refers to the colour, which can be apple-green.  The colour is in the scales, which wear off to reveal the black cuticle beneath.

The moral of the story is to check a number of websites, and come to your own conclusions when identifying mini-beasts.


Thursday, 13 April 2017


The puffins put on a superb show at the Wick on Skomer Island yesterday evening with many birds in flight shots captured back-lit by a setting sun. It doesn't come much better than this as a photographic wildlife experience.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Oil Beetle

Found in the garden today  - the blue legs and antenna were very striking. I think it's a Black Oil Beetle but I'm sure there is somebody out there who can tell me if I'm wrong!

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Amourobius ferox

My wife called me to the bathroom to see this spider. I potted it and
examined it. I could see it had these amazing palps. I couldn't take a
really good photo, so I took it to my friend Melvin Grey who has constructed
a special light box. What an incredible image was produced.

The ID came within half an hour from These
ping-pong ball-like blobs are 'palpal bulbs'. It is a male spider. I imagine
that they play a part in the mating game. I understand that male spiders use
their palps to transfer a package of sperm to the female. If he is lucky he
may escape before she devours him. May be these white bulbs fool the female
into thinking that he hasn't delivered the parcel. He would then have a
chance to escape. That is my theory anyway.

Best   wishes, Peter Byles.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Winter Heliotrope

Winter Heliotrope is in full flower along the roadside outside our house. I picked a flower and put it in a vase to see what the scent was like - it was like a rather sickly vanilla.The flower and the scent lasted for many days.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Nursery Web Spider - Pisaura mirabilis

I had seen on the Pembrokeshire Wildlife blog some excellent photos dated 16 July 2016 from Peter Byles, of the Nursery Web Spider - Pisaura mirabilis. You may like to know that on a visit to Pembroke Dock I saw a Nursery Web Spider on grass next to Pembroke River/Pennar Gut (OS ref: SM957023) on 26 December 2016. This is an extremely late date for this spider; I have never seen one in Winter where I live in Hampshire, and as an amateur arachnologist I am always on the look out for spiders.

Two days earlier, on 24 December 2016, I saw another unexpected spider: a Stripe-legged Spider - Harpactea hombergii. This was nearby one metre up a three metre high South-facing cliff.

I realise that spiders are under-recorded in Pembrokeshire, nevertheless, these were interesting finds in late December.


Dennis Trunecka.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

The smell of gorse in December

While I know that gorse is usually in bloom in December, I was not prepared for the display that greeted me on the cliffs between Monkhaven and St Ishmaels this morning - the gorse was in flower all along the path and down the cliffs and it was covered in bloom. In the warm sunshine and light breeze, it was emitting its wonderful perfume of coconut and butterscotch. I am pretty sure that I have never smelt this in December before!
There were not many insects taking advantage of this bounty but there was one queen Buff-tailed Bumblebee and a queen of a smaller species - maybe Early Bumblebee.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

NURSERY WEB SPIDER Pisaura mirabilis

This striking spider was found in a neighbour's garden. She was vigorously
defending a web full of purple spiderlings and quite hard to photograph. I
had quite a time trying to identify it, but found an excellent website. As I
keep finding with creatures I've never identified before, it is described as
widespread and common!

Peter Byles.