Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Boddington Meadow and Listerine

Corizus hyoscyami, found at Boddington Meadow
29 October, 2013
A blustery day but, with plenty of sunshine to enjoy, I took myself to Boddington Meadow. The first hour produced little of great interest but then my attention was caught by a brightly coloured bug on a dock leaf. I suspected it was Corizus hyoscyami, and consulting my books once home, this was confirmed.

For many years this insect was more or less confined to sandy coasts in the south-west of England and Wales.Then, a decade or so ago, it begin to steadily spread north and east across Britain. The cause of this is unclear; the usual suggestion is climate warming, and this may be true, but it seems likely that more subtle factors have played a part. I recorded it about 3-4 years ago from Byfield Pocket Park, but today's finding was still of interest. Rather surprisingly it does not yet appear to have acquired a common name. Hyoscyamus is the Latin name for Henbane, an extremely poisonous plant akin to Deadly Nightshade. In the time of Martin Lister, who first recorded this bug in Britain, it was generally found in association with Henbane, but nowadays a considerable number of plants also act as host. Martin Lister (1639-1712) was a Fellow of the Royal Society, physician to Queen Anne and the M.P for Brackley. He is still remembered via Listerine mouthwash. (What is the connection between Brackley and Listerine? - now there's a good pub-quiz question!)

Flies basking in autumn sunshine
Boddington Meadow. 29 October, 2013
As the afternoon wore on the temperature began to drop. However, tree trunks on the northern edge of the reserve were still bathed in sunshine, with dozens of flies taking advantage. Among these were several Noon Flies, Mesembrina meridiana, and my photograph shows three of these. All were females, recognisable as such because their eyes are separated (the eyes of males are almost touching). Other species present included Polietes lardarius, Calliphora vicina and Calliphora vomitoria.
Noon Flies basking in sunshine.
Boddington Meadow, 29 October, 2013

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