The Way I See Things



I got a little bit overexcited when I first spotted this bug, thinking that I might have found a firebug, but by the time I'd taken its photo I'd realised that it was "the other one" - Corizus hyoscyami, the cinnamon bug, which is similar in size and appearance, but very much more common. Nonetheless I was pleased to see it because I don't seem to run across them very often (and some years not at all), and it posed calmly and cooperatively for me on this leaf, so I think it deserves to have its portrait posted tonight.

A firebug (Pyrrhocoris apterus) would be quite a catch this far north, because it's a relatively recent migrant from Europe, but it is showing signs of spreading out of its former strongholds in the southern coastal counties, so it's probably just a matter of time before it arrives in the Shire. The cinnamon bug had a similar coastal distribution not so many years ago, but can now be found throughout England and Wales. It's a slightly more orangey red than the firebug, as its common name suggests, and as well as the differences in their markings it can be distinguished from the firebug in two ways: firstly, it has ocelli, which the firebug doesn't; and secondly, it's fully winged, while most (though not all) British firebugs are flightless. The cinnamon bug feeds on a wide variety of plants, while the firebug confines itself to limes and mallows.

My extra is a weevil - I think most probably Curculio nucum, the hazelnut weevil, since it was on a hazel tree, though several of the Curculio species are very similar in appearance and are hard for the amateur to tell apart. Its colour, and the fact that it was fairly large, at around 8mm in length, both tend to support the identification. The interesting thing about the Curculio weevils is that they all have an extended life cycle, which it's thought may help them to overcome vagaries in the weather and the supply of food, and possibly even to wait out cyclical surges in the numbers of predators and parasites. The adult females lay their eggs, either singly or in twos or threes, on developing nuts of their chosen trees. After they hatch the larvae bore into the nut kernels to feed, and when the nuts fall, in the late summer or autumn, the larvae emerge and burrow into the ground. They then enter diapause, with pupation occurring either the following summer or the summer after that. The new adults eclose, but then stay in their pupal cells through another winter, emerging the following spring to complete their life cycles.

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