July 2009

Horntail (Urocerus gigas)

The month started off by being presented with this magnificent specimen one morning at coffee break. It had been captured in a Liverpool garden and handed into the security guards at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine since they figured such an exotic looking insect must be of tropical origin. It is in fact a native of Britain and, at 4cm in length, is one of our biggest hymenopterans. It is fairly common in pine forests, although it does tend to stay around the tops of the trees and is consequently not seen very often. Despite its fearsome, wasp-like appearance it is quite harmless.

Karlstejn Castle, Czech Republic

Towards the middle of the month, I took a short trip to the Czech Republic for the wedding of one of my friends from Prague University. Whilst there, I took the opportunity to increase my sand fly portfolio by photographing 4 of the species for which they maintain colonies in their laboratory.

blood-feeding Sand Fly (Phlebotomus papatasi)

For those not familiar with the disease, leishmaniasis recently made the headlines in Britain when the celebrity explorer Ben Fogle contracted it in Peru, with the tabloids generally referring to it as a "flesh-eating bug". It is actually caused by single-celled, protozoan parasites of the genus Leishmania that after invasion of a mammalian host will take up residence, and multiply within, the phagocytic vacuoles of macrophages (a type of white blood cell which forms part of the immune response and are normally responsible for the uptake and destruction of invading pathogens).

blood-feeding Sand Fly (Phlebotomus argentipes)

More of the sand fly photos and information on leishmaniasis can be found on the sand fly page in the arthropod vectors of disease gallery.

blood-feeding Sand Fly (Phlebotomus perniciosus)

I also took the opportunity to spend a bit of time doing some macro photography in the countryside surrounding Prague...

Essex Skipper (Thymelicus lineola) - Karlstejn, Czech Republic

Melanpyrum nemorosum
Karlstejn, Czech Republic

fungi sp.
Dobris, Czech Republic

Emerald Damselfly (Lestes sponsa) - Dobris, Czech Republic

Emerald Damselfly (Lestes sponsa) - Dobris, Czech Republic

Dark Green Fritillary (Mesoacidalia aglaja) - Dobris, Czech Republic

probably Clytra laeviuscula - Karlstejn, Czech Republic

...and a bit of sight-seeing to a few places in Prague itself that I hadn't visited on my previous visits.

Vyserhad cemetary, Prague

Vyserhad church, Prague

Back in Britain, the cold, wet weather prevented me from having much opportunity for more insect photography, but I did get out a couple of times around the lanes near where I live on the Wirral.

copulating Bloodsucker Beetles (Rhagonycha fulva) - Cheshire, England

Their habit of copulating conspicuously on unbellifer flowers has given rise to Rhagonycha fulva's alternative common name, the "Hogweed Bonking Beetle".

Cereal Leaf Beetle (Oulema melanopus) - Cheshire, England

Common Froghopper (Philaenus spumarius) - Cheshire, England

Common Froghopper (Philaenus spumarius) - Cheshire, England

Poecilobothrus nobilitatus - Cheshire, England

June 2009 2009 Diary Index August 2009