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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

13 December, 2016

Alydus calcaratus: the broad-headed bug

I found this bug climbing along the frame of our bedroom window looking for a way out! As this broad-headed bug (Alydus calcaratus) is very local and found only on heaths that may seem an off place to find one especially as I have never seen one anywhere else but as, in Wareham, we live close to the Purbeck heaths may be it is not so surprising after all?
It is fairly long and thin for this group of bug species and is the only British member of this particular family. There is some doubt as to whether it is actually a native species. It is easily recognised by the white marks along the edges of the abdomen and if it opens its wings then a bright orange mark on the abdomen can also be seen. Apparently this is also diagnostic should it be seen in flight.
It can be seen as an adult from May through until September on heath where it favours the leaves of gorse and broom shrubs. The larva resembles and small black ant and it is thought that it may benefit from this similarity by living with ants when in this stage of its life. You can, perhaps, imagine how difficult it my be to actually prove this fact!
Alydus calcaratus: the broad-headed bug