(232ORfla) Orchesella flavescens (Bourlet, 1839)

Orchesella flavescens is a distinctive species (Figs. 1, 2) which Womersley (1924) described as 'the most magnificent springtail'. It reaches 5.0 mm in length although the live specimens in the photographs (collected from the Netherlands by Matty Berg) are only 3.0 mm. There are several scattered records from England, mostly from woodland leaf litter. As with all Orchesella, the antennae are often asymmetric (Figs. 1, 2 and 3).

In 2009 Robin Webster photographed this species under oak woodland near Gatwick, and sent the pictures to Peter Shaw for confirmation. Peter visited the site, and collected many specimens from the one spot photographed, showing a remarkable variation in colour scheme, some with just 2 lines running the length of the body, others looking partly or much like hybrids with Orchesella cincta (which was also present). This is the first reliable record of the species in the UK since 1925!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fig. 1: Orchesella flavescens collected from pine forest in the Netherlands by Matty Berg.

Fig. 2: Orchesella flavescens collected from pine forest in the Netherlands by Matty Berg.

Fig. 3: Antennae of Orchesella flavescens collected by C.H. Jackson (date and locality unknown). The right antenna (antR) has six segments whereas the terminal segment of the left antenna (antL) is 'missing' and the fifth segment has grown longer (to compensate?).

 
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