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A Drawing Pin with Legs

20 December 2011 | Posted in Insects , Nature Reserves , Wildlife

Author Graeme Lyons

large willow aphid / Graeme Lyons

I went back to the area of field maples and willows where I found some interesting mosses yesterday. It's great having a new 'patch' I can work within a hundred yards of my office. I was trying to figure out if I had found another new liverwort or just a different form of something more familiar when I spotted these little weirdos shuffling around in a crack in some willow bark. They are large willow aphids Tuberolachnus salignus and I have never heard of them before. These aphids are easy enough to identify online, read more about them here.

large willow aphid / Graeme Lyons

What is strange about them is that they overwinter as adults. They are meant to be quite common on willow bark and are one of the biggest aphids in the UK, they were certainly pretty visible today. What may look like a male and female is most likely just a winged and an unwinged female as the males have not been recorded in the UK. In the background you can see just how small Fairy Beads are.

The liverwort I originally spotted turned out to be just a small green form of Frulania dilatata but it led me to something completely unexpected. Awesome.

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