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How far would you go for a first for Sussex?

Author Graeme Lyons

Picture the scene. I'm walking quietly through a heathery glade at Graffham Common

with Jane Wilmot and two chaps from Amphibian and Reptile Conservation looking for potential hibernacula. I had my net with me and took the opportunity to do a little sweeping, mainly for spiders. I look down into my net to see a small longhorn beetle which I thought was going to be Leiopus. I then realised it was actually a Pogonocherus.

Pogonocherus fasciculatus, a longhorn beetle / Graeme Lyons
Pogonocherus fasciculatus, a longhorn beetle / Graeme Lyons

Looking a little closer, I noticed it lacked the horns at the back of the elytra, which meant it was the scarce one on pine. Before putting it in a pot, I needed to get a decent photo, so I placed it on some pine bark and began snapping away. Little did I know that I had knelt down in a wood ants nest. I suddenly found ants crawling all over me, heading down my trousers and before I knew it, I had been bitten in the worst place you could possibly be bitten by an ant! I held still until I had taken the shot but it wasn't as good as it could have been with all the shaking...

... I got back to the office and confirmed the ID as Pogonocherus fasciculatus. A new species for me! I checked the Sussex Biodiversity Records Centre

to see there were no records and a quick phone call to Peter Hodge confirmed that this would be a county first. Peter did also say I should check that it wasn't one of the European Pogonocherus too but either way, that's a first for Sussex! This is a beetle, a longhorn beetle at that, a bird-dropping mimic, a first for me, a first for the county and it was on a Sussex Wildlife Trust nature reserve.

It doesn't get any better than that as far as I am concerned!

Pogonocherus fasciculatus / Graeme Lyons
Pogonocherus fasciculatus / Graeme Lyons

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