15 July 2008

If you are an unknown insect then what better place to live


WW follows

Insect experts at the Natural History Museum were stumped when a tiny red and black bug, no bigger than a grain of rice, turned up in their own wildlife garden.Despite a year's efforts from specialists across Europe, the mystery insect has defied all attempts to identify it. Max Barclay, an entomologist at the museum, came across the bug last spring. “I was in the gardens with my son and there was one under the gate, I thought, ‘That looks interesting, I've never seen anything like that before'


The bug was the most common insect in the museum's wildlife garden last summer and has since been found across southwest London, leading Mr Barclay to believe that it will soon spread across the country. But although the museum holds the world's largest collection of insects, no exact match could be found.


The bug closely resembles a Central European species, Arocatus roeselii, but it is a darker red and lives on plane trees rather than alder. “It's a bit unsatisfactory that in the garden of the biggest museum in the world there was an insect that we couldn't identify,” Mr Barclay said.


Specimens have been found in Battersea Park, Chelsea Embankment and Gray's Inn in London, and Mr Barclay believes that the insect has now spread across the capital. The bug has since been matched to unidentified specimens found in Nice and Paris, but Mr Barclay does not think that it is native to Europe. “A native species would have predators and parasites that would keep its numbers under control. It could be from anywhere plane trees occur, which doesn't narrow it down very much.” Plane trees are found across the northern hemisphere from China to North America.


The bug lives off the seeds of the plane tree and is thought to be harmless to human beings and the trees. Scientists in the Netherlands will now examine the creature's DNA in an attempt to find out more about its make-up. Mr Barclay believes that this will rule out the possibility that it is a hybrid of a known species, and set researchers on the way to solving the mystery.


Naturalists would venture far and wide to collect specimens. I find it amusing that one turns up on their doorstep so to speak!

15 comments:

ARCHITECT said...

interesting... visit mine... and you'll see a well known animal...

eastcoastlife said...

No bigger than a grain of rice?... that's tiny.

I would like to know its name too.
Happy WW!

Ryanne said...

bugs! What is it...kind of creepy, eh? Happy WW.

Raven said...

You post the most interesting stuff.

Lord James Bigglesworth said...

Always happens.

jams o donnell said...

Thanks . It's an item that fascinated me!

Snap Catch said...

nice one, perfect one for WW! Mine's up too hope you can drop by... Happy WW!

The Urban Buddha said...

Haha.. more bugs! Thanks for commenting on my crickets. I never tried one.. not really my idea of an evening snack!

WillThink4Wine said...

The article said that the bug "is thought to be harmless to human beings and the trees"...

You know we're in trouble now.

lareine said...

wow! maybe it's an "old" specie that have escaped the entomologists' radar (or microscope) and it's only resurfacing now since we're nearing another ice age...ooopps! so much for my active imagination... but this is interesting :)...

Nunyaa said...

Looks like a variant of the cockroach family to me.

Digital Flower Pictures said...

It is ironic it would pop up under their noses. You would think that man has 'discovered' every specie of everything but that just isn't the case, especially with marine critters.

The Lone Beader said...

It's a tree bug, and that the a scientific name for it! LOL. I used to have ones like that at my old apartment when I lived on the edge of thick woods. The ones we had were black, but basically looked the same... It's funny that we humans feel we have to identify/label everything around us. Can't we just let life be???

The Lone Beader said...

San Fran! In a heartbeat!

jams o donnell said...

Thanks everyone...Haha willthink4wine! We're doomed eh!