Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Battle for Survival

Soon, the focus of my attention will turn to scanning the horizon for raptors that overwinter across Pevensey Levels. However, while insects are still about, my gaze was firmly fixed on the field edges and hedgerows on Sunday, as Carol and I wandered around our usual circuit. Even into November, Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) were still numerous and a female Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) was busy laying eggs on nettle plants.
As we neared the end of our walk, I noticed a mini-drama taking place on the trunk of an oak tree, about 3 feet from the ground. A battle for survival was unfolding as we watched a Devil's Coach-horse Beetle (Ocypus olens) trying to subdue and dismember its prey; a species of Ground Beetle. The predator has to feed to survive and the prey species was desperately trying to escape its grasp. We watched for several minutes as the prey dragged the predator with it as it tried to release itself. The predator tenaciously hung on as it used its jaws rather like a tin-opener to cut through the wing case (elytron). The prey beetle seemed doomed but as the struggle continued, they both lost their footing and fell to the ground and were separated on impact. Battle was not rejoined and they went their separate ways. 
Devil's Coach-horse Beetle (Ocypus olens) (with prey)

 Just over a week ago, when I last put out the moth-trap, the catch was very small but did include two specimens of the scarce migrant moth Palpita vitrealis. This species has been arriving in southern England in good numbers in 2017.
Palpita vitrealis

Beaded Chestnut (Agrochola lychnidis)

Vapourer Moth (Orgyia antiqua) (male)



  1. Amazing sequence with the Devil's Coach-horse! Love the moth shots.-

    1. Hi Conehead54, glad you enjoyed. Always a bonus when I manage to capture nature in action in a single frame.