Wednesday, 8th August 2012
With more than 250,000 know species of beetle, the Coleoptera is the largest of all known orders in the insect world. More than 4,000 have been recorded in Britain, just under 1,000 in Ireland and 127 in Waterford. The largest species live in the tropics with the Hercules and Goliath beetles that measure more than 40cm and weigh in the region of 100 grams. Compare this weight with that of Ireland's smallest bird, the Goldcrest at about 5 grams. However, such is the range of form and size within the order that it also contains some of the smallest visible insects with many being less than 5mm long. Waterford beetles range in size from less than 5mm to just over 50mm.
Beetles are abundant as individuals as well as in terms of species although this may not be apparent to the casual observer because of the small size and secretive or nocturnal habits of many species. Most beetles can and do fly well but relatively little time is spent in flight and so, beetles are very much insects of the ground and of low vegetation. Within the limitations imposed by their biting mouth parts, beetles have invaded all available habitats – including the sea; and exploited all possible food sources. The order includes plant feeders with many important wood-borers, scavengers, predators and parasites. Few natural organic materials escape the attention of one or other groups. Many species are serious pests; chafers and many other beetles damage our growing crops. These include the Vine-weevil so well known in the larval and adult states to local gardeners; several species infest stored grain and flour; carpets and other fabrics are eaten by carpet beetles and timber and woodwork are weakened by woodworm and others. Larvae do most of the damage but adults often do their share although many prefer pollen or nectar. On the credit side, many beetles are useful allies in combating and dispatching other insect pests. The aphid-eating ladybirds are especially important. Other useful beetles include the dung beetles and burying insects that consume animal dung and carrion and are an important link in the nitrogen cycle.
The beetles of Waterford are not well known compared to some other counties. There was a great flurry of activity early in the twentieth century when L. H. Bonaparte-Wyse of Manor St. John in Waterford City collected in the general areas of Portlaw, the Comeragh Mountains, Tramore and in the Kilbarry bog. His collection is now scattered between several museums and universities in Ireland and Britain. Incidental records from Waterford were published in the natural history journals throughout the twentieth century and up to the present time and the picture that is emerging is one of a widespread distribution of diverse species in every part of the county. Because of the paucity of exact examination of particular micro or sub-habitats, there is little doubt that many species are just waiting to be discovered here either as new species for the county or for Ireland. The latter has happened here for Grasshoppers, Earwigs, Moths and Woodlice, so why not Beetles?
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Google AlertWhen a company which has it's European Headquarters here in Ireland is called 'evil' and 'immoral' by M.P.s in The House of Commons you tend to sit up and take notice. The particular company that was being referred to was Google and the reason it had enraged M.P.s in London was because even though it has a big operation there and conducts a lot of business there it pays no corporate tax. It does this by having all of its financial transactions finished here in Ireland. And the company here is …
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