A most serendipitous insect

The sunny weather drew me out on Wednesday. There are a few things about — the odd bee-fly, some solitary bees, a comma and peacock butterflies. I bashed a stand of ivy covering an old tree on Honor Oak’s One Tree Hill, and out fell a couple of bethylids. I like these curious creatures. Although given honorary aculeate (ant/bee/wasp) status, they actually run around like tiny rove beetles in the net, an impression emphasized by their stout triangular or pentagonal heads.

At 4 mm, Bethylus boops is not large; dainty, more like.

At 4 mm, Bethylus boops is not large; dainty, more like.

These ones were Bethylus boops (pronounced “bo-ops”), a species dear to my heart because it was the first insect species I ever found ‘New to Britain’ — running about on my newspaper, as I sat reading in the garden in Nunhead, in 1992. I tentatively identified it as something highly unlikely, but when I sent it to the UK bethylid expert to check, he told me no, it was a new one. The hairy eyes are a dead give-away.

It turns up regularly in the London area, and I’ve found it several times. The National Biodiversity Network distribution map is patchy, to say the least.

Mostly, distribution maps show the distribution of searchers, not what is being sought.

Mostly, distribution maps show the distribution of searchers, not what is being sought.

London and Gretna(?), apparently. Not sure I believe that.

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One response to “A most serendipitous insect

  1. Hi Richard, I’ve just been through the same process of thinking I’d found Bethylus dendrophilus and being told by John Burn that it is boops. Is your original discovery published anywhere?

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