Following our fourth annual Mini Beast Safari, the helpers from the Herts Invertebrate Project – William Bishop and Joe Gray, a trustee – stayed on after lunch to survey the park’s insect fauna. Their efforts were rewarded with several very interesting finds.
The first of these was the ground-bug Arocatus longiceps, of which a mating pair was found by William on one of the park’s mature London Plane trees. This is a relatively new species to the UK, and it is the first time it has been found on London Plane in Hertfordshire. There are a couple of records of very similar bugs from the county, but it likely that these belong to the closely related species Arocatus roeselli.
A little later in the afternoon, another ground-bug was found in the grass underlayer of Hither Wood, which proved to be Metopoplax ditomoides. The excellent website www.britishbugs.org.uk describes it as: “Historically a rare vagrant to Britain [that] has recently become established in parts of southern England.” This record from Highfield Park is the first ever one from Hertfordshire.
The insect survey finished with an examination of the plants in the garden around the Visitor Centre, and this led to another new species for the county being found, this time the plant-bug Dicyphus escalerae on Snapdragon.