Lesser thorn-tipped longhorn beetle
Following a discussion with uniqueandlovely last week I bought myself a sweep net, and this afternoon I wandered around the garden, sweeping across soft vegetation and beating trees and shrubs, to see what I could find. The answer was: plenty - including numerous lacewings (giving me all the excuse I need to show you this lacewing larva I found at Trench Wood yesterday, and which had me so perplexed I had to turn to the invert experts on Facebook for an identification), numerous hoppers (most of which hopped long before I managed to remove them from the net), some nice bugs, including a couple of box bugs and a Pantilius tunicatus, and a vast array of arachnids, including some of the shorter-legged Opiliones which I hadn't seen in the garden before.
Best. Game. Ever.
This lesser thorn-tipped longhorn beetle gets to be today's star exhibit for two reasons: firstly, I'd never seen one before today; and secondly, it was unusually calm and cooperative, allowing me to move it gently onto a photinia leaf (close to the viburnum from which I'd beaten it) and play around with angles and lighting until I had the photo I wanted. It's around 6mm in length, but seems bigger because its antennae are longer than it is - so long, in fact, that I think it's probably a male. The common name comes from the thorn-like tooth at the end of each wing case, I believe, though it also has a thorny tubercle on either side of its pronotum.
The lifespan of Pogonocherus hispidus is around a year, and it may be found at any time, as overwintering adults can become active during mild spells. It's essentially a woodland insect, but can also be found in hedgerows, and the females will lay their eggs on an unusually wide variety of trees and shrubs. Larvae develop under bark, and may emerge in the autumn, or wait until the following spring. It's a common and widespread species throughout southern and central England and Wales, but becomes progressively rarer the further north you go.