Sunday 17 June 2012: Spotted longhorn
Pete and I went for a Father's Day morning walk at Holme Fen, leaving all three boys slumbering in bed. Unfortunately the skies were mostly grey, but it was fairly warm and there were odd spells of sunshine, which encouraged some insect activity. It was the first day that we'd seen good numbers of dead-wood species, many of which usually emerge in mid-May.
Surprisingly we only saw one brand new specimen of the rather spectacular spotted longhorn beetle Rutpela maculata, which is usually fairly abundant in our local woods by mid-June. This species is widely distributed throughout England and Wales north to Galloway. Its locally common especially around woodland margins and is commonly seen on warm sunny days flying around or feeding upon a variety of flowers. The larvae develop within moist decaying wood of trunks and roots, especially birch, and take two to three years to develop. The adults appear in late spring and can be found until July or August, although each individual only lives for four to six weeks.
After our walk it was back to an afternoon of proof-reading, editing and printing Alex's assignments, but most of the work got done in time for us to share a relaxed Father's Day meal. Chris prepared a spicy prawn and fruit salad as a starter, a real family favourite brought out on many celebrations. Ben (with a little supervision) prepared a delicious main course of lamb steaks cooked with potatoes, lemons, mint and chilli accompanied by asparagus and courgettes. Alex laid the table and the puddings came from Sainsbury's. The only flaw was that I forgot to buy the after-dinner mints!