LONGHORN

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It’s a month since I was last at Strumpshaw Fen, but things have noticeably shifted in those four weeks and it now feels like the reedbeds are on the brink on summer. St Mark’s flies, which were lazily flying in their hundreds the last time I was there, are now completely absent and have been replaced by damselflies, hoverflies and the first of the dragonflies. Though most of the blossom had fallen, the hawthorns were reaching peak bloom and were covered in longhorn beetles, including a large one that I managed to identify as a two-banded longhorn thanks to this guide on Discover Wildlife.

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It’s also the right time of the year for a couple of Strumpy specialties- swallowtails, the largest and arguably the most stunning of the UK’s butterflies, and Norfolk hawkers, with their beautiful lime green eyes. Though I managed to see both, neither were at the stage where they were particularly common, so photographs of them have been reserved for another day. I did also see scarce chasers, holly blues, peacocks, orange-tips, green veined and small whites, and a plethora of bees, the identity of many of which will remain a mystery until somebody buys me this beast.

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Apart from the two-pronged longhorn, my other fave from the day was this sawfly- the first time I’ve ever identified an insect as such, though I’m sure I see them all the time. I *think* this one is Strongylogaster multifasciata, as found in this NatureSpot guide- I’m pretty sure the female was ovipositing on the fern I found her on, she closely matched the pictures in it, and there’s a previous record in the right area. I hadn’t come across NatureSpot before but will be singing it’s praises far and wide- it has a fabulous website with photos and IDs of groups ranging from hemipterans to craneflies to lacewings. Although it’s limited to stuff found in the Leicestershire/Rutland area (it’s a charity specifically aiming to help people record wildlife there) there are distribution maps for each species so you can double check if an identification is likely. If someone make one for Norfolk and Lancashire, that’d be grand.

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