with any items for inclusion, or other comments on the website.
Please also keep an eye on our FaceBook page for timely tips.

Self-heal fungus   Ash Die-back   House-fly   Tree Bumblebee   Blowfly survey
False Blister-beetles   February Red Stonefly   Fungi on Self-heal   Bay bugs

Invader Update.

We have two (quite welcome) 'invaders' which we want to monitor as well as we can.  The first is the Saxon Wasp (left, blue dots) which has stimulated our Wasp Atlas Scheme, and the other is the Tree Bumblebee (right, red dots), recently arrived in Highland after spreading north since arriving in the UK in 2001.  The maps below show the current situation as we know it, but there will surely be new dots on the map for both species before long.  (Maps updated 31 August 2019.)
D. sxonica map B. hypnorum map

An Atlas project for everyone's favourite insect - WASPS!

Please assist with our new atlas project, mapping the distribution of our social wasps.

All the information you need is here.

Anyone can help with this, whether just collecting dead wasps from your house or garden,
or becoming competent at identifying the different species.

If you want to help with a new national survey on blowflies, all the information you need is here.

Instructions on taking part.
A photographic key to blowflies (5MB, .pdf file).

Not everyone loves blowflies, but we would be in a sad state without them!

All help will be gratefully received.

Rosenscheldia abundans

Rosenscheldia abundans © Murdo Macdonald.
R. abundans map A fungus on Self-heal.

Last year Sue Tarr found a distinctive and little-recorded fungus
Rosenscheldia abundans on the dead stems of Self-heal Prunella vulgaris.

We soon transformed the map (on left), finding it easily.  The early infections are beginning to show as obvious elongated 'lumpy' black marks on green stems.

If you do find it, let us know, and ideally keep a sample for confirmation, or take a picture of the fungus.

Back to the top.

Ash Die-back (Chalara).

We have had several reports recenty of Ash infected with the fungus
Hymenoscyphus fraxineus, sometimes known as Chalara, from Eigg, Skye, Lochalsh and mid-Ross.  The symptoms are described in a video which is well worth seeing here.

If you see Ash saplings showing the signs of infection, dead and dry wilted leaves, and discoloration of the bark (right) report it to your local Forestry Commission office and to HBRG.

Back to the top.


Photos © Murdo Macdonald.

Musca domestica

Musca domestica © USDAGov.
The House-fly.

In deference to the International Year of the Fly we are again highlighting the House-fly Musca domestica, one of our scarcest insects (yes, really!).

Here is a guide to help recognise a House-fly from any other fly in a house.  If you think you have one contact HBRG.  Either a body or a good detailed photograph will be needed for confirmation.  Back to the top.

The Tree Bumblebee.

We have waited a long time for our first Highland Tree Bumblebee
Bombus hypnorum, but a worker at Strathpeffer on 29 June ended that and is the farthest north so far in the UK.  This bee arrived in England in 2001, and has spread rapidly north.

LATEST. More have been found at Clunes in the Great Glen by David Whitaker. They are obviously working on two fronts.

We are on the advancing front now, so please be aware of its appearance (clean brown/black/white) and if you think you have found it take a picture for confirmation (some hoverflies can be similar, but they all have short antennae) and let us know.

They habitually nest in bird-boxes, so bells should ring if you have bumblebees in a nest-box, hole in tree, or similar situation.  Steven Falk's excellent pictures are here.

Back to the top.

Bombus hypnorum

Photo © Charles J. Sharp.

Oedemera virescens

Oedemera virescens © Francisco Welter-Schultes [CC0].
False Blister-beetles.

We have been asked to look out for any False Blister-beetles (
Oedemera) in our area.  Of the four species likely to occur in Scotland, only O. virescens has been recorded in Highland (on Skye, in 2018), but there is some evidence that it is spreading north so may become more obvious with us over time.  Bruce Philp has produced a splendid profile and key to help recognise the beetles.  If you find any, let both Bruce and HBRG know the details.  Back to the top.

The Northern February Red Stonefly.

The season has come round again for taking part in the Buglife survey for
Brachyptera putata, a Scottish speciality.  Details are here.

Some of our members looked for it in 2017-18 with considerable success. The technique involves looking for the insects on fenceposts by a river, and taking a picture for confirmation.

Please remember to report any finds to HBRG as well as to Buglife.

Back to the top.

Brachyptera putata

Photo © Gus Jones.

Prunella with R. abundans

Rosenscheldia abundans

Two fungi on Self-heal.

One of our successes at the end of 2018 was the rewriting of the map R. abundans
of the parasitic microfungus Rosenscheldia abundans on old stems of Self-heal Prunella vulgaris after it was first found by Sue Tarr.  Now another species, Leptotrochila prunellae, is easily recognisable on the living leaves of the same host.  Self-heal is very common, and even in winter is easy to spot by virtue of the distinctive dead flower-heads (see image on left) and winter-green leaf rosettes.

appears as oval clusters of black spore-bodies on old stems.  Infected stems look much blacker and rougher than 'clean' ones, with little hint of brown or green. 

Leptotrochila produces black spore-bodies on green leaves, each with radiating ridges which give the appearance of a tiny eroded volcano.  The only recent Scottish records are by Stewart Taylor from around Strathspey, and from Strathpeffer (map Leptotrochila prunellae).  Most of the Scottish records are from before 1910, including that near Inverness which was in 1908

Both species are probably seriously under-recorded so please check any Self-heal you encounter, and let us know if you find either fungus.  If in doubt, take a sample and pass it to HBRG.

Back to the top.
Leptotrochila prunellae Leptotrochila prunellae
Fungi on Self-heal Prunella vulgaris.
Top -
Rosenscheldia abundans.
- Leptotrochila prunellae.

Photo © Murdo Macdonald.  

The Bay Sucker gall, and a scale insect.

This is a bit of a long-odds punt, but long odds are the ones that hit the big money!  Sandy Coppins has the Bay Sucker bug
Lauritrioza alacris (formerly Trioza) in her garden in E Lothian, just confirmed as the first records for Scotland.  This is an alien, introduced around 100y ago to England, and like several other species we have featured here this year it has spread northwards.  Although we are a fair way north of E Lothian, things like this can be overlooked, and as a horticultural pest can easily be transported long distances with human help.  More information is on the British Bugs page.

So - if you have a Bay plant in your garden please check the leaves for the obviously thickened rolled leaf edges.  There will be evidence of the bugs inside the roll.  And let us know if you have it.

By coincidence, while checking some Bay in Forres for this gall (unsuccessfully) it was obvious that the leaves were heavily infested with the scale insect
Coccus hesperidum.  It seems that there are few formal records, so check the information here and let us know if you find it.  A photograph or sample will be needed for confirmation.

Back to the top.

Trioza alacris

Lauritrioza alacris galls on Bay Laurus nobilis.

Photo © Sandy Coppins.

Self-heal fungus   Ash Die-back   House-fly   Tree Bumblebee   Blowfly survey
False Blister-beetles   February Red Stonefly   Fungi on Self-heal   Bay bugs
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