I have written several articles recently on insects and beachcombing. My last beachcombing article was after strong southerly/easterly winds brought in, and pushed up, large piles of seaweeds. This time it was northerly winds blowing tiny insects out to sea, to be later washed up on the beach.

Along the high tide line were millions of tiny insects, and millions more, along every succeeding wave as the tide receded. I thought they would all be of one species, but took a pinch of them home to look at closely. I found four species (there would probably have been more if I had taken a larger sample). As I am not qualified to identify these insects, I sent pictures to the museum, where Ken Walker was able to identify only two to family level.

One was a Cicadellidae bug.

cicadellidaebugCicadellidae bug

From Wikipedia - These minute insects, colloquially known as hoppers, are plant feeders that suck plant sap from grass, shrubs, or trees. Their hind legs are modified for jumping, and are covered with hairs that facilitate the spreading of a secretion over their bodies that acts as a water repellent and carrier of pheromones. Some are pests or vectors of plant diseases. The family is distributed all over the world, with at least 20,000 described species.

The other was a Psyllidae bug.

psyllidaebugPsyllidae bug

From Wikipedia - the jumping plant lice or psyllids, are a family of small plant-feeding insects that tend to be very host-specific, i.e. each species usually only feeds on one plant species.

Lerps are Psyllids.

In addition to the myriad small insects there were a few larger ones, including a third species of bug, from the family Cydnidae.

cydnidaebugCydnidae

From CSIRO - These bugs are unusual in that they live their lives burrowing through the soil. Their legs are armed with strong spines and numerous hairs that aid in their burrowing lifestyle. To complement these spines, the head and legs may also be flattened and the body surface smooth and shiny. Their diet includes the roots of plants, stems or seeds that have fallen upon the ground.

As well as the insects there were two interesting shells. I used the Conical Horsehoof Shell, Hipponix conicus, to carry home my pinch of insects.

conicalhorsehoofshellConical Horsehoof Shell

The Ram’s Horn Squid Shell, Spirula spirula, is part of the internal structure of a small squid about 4 cm long that lives mainly in tropical waters. The shell’s chambers are airtight and the squid uses it for buoyancy control.

ramshornsquidshellRam’s Horn Squid Shell

Neil Tucker

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