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Southern oak bush-cricket
With a one-night stop-over in Beaune, we made the return trip from Tuscany in 20 hours of driving. It seemed a long time to us, even taking into account various breaks to stretch legs, eat, and drink coffee. But, of course, it is just a mere hop.
We are not the only ones on the road, but even 100 kilometres from Calais, it seems that we are the only nationality on large stretches of the French motorway system. With the leisurely ease of Le Shuttle, and endless ferries plying the Channel, it is no surprise that there are so many UK travellers roaring over the continent. And it is no surprise to discover ‘new’ European mainland insects arriving back with them into Britain.
The rosemary leaf beetle, Chrysolina americana, was first found in the UK in a Kitchen in Disley, Cheshire in the early 1960s, and was thought to have come back with some large pine cones picked up in the Portugal countryside and brought home as souvenirs. This was a false start, but it got a proper foothold in 1995, and is now everywhere.
The southern oak bush-cricket, Meconema meridionale, is flightless, lacking the long elegant wings of its cousin the oak bush-cricket, M. thalassinum, so it could not possibly have flown into from Southern France and Northern Italy into Surrey and Berkshire in 1991. Much more likely it fell off the back of a lorry, or a family hatchback, or a saloon. It is now widespread in southern England.
And there was one waiting for me in the front garden when I returned from Italy. I thought I found one a couple of years ago, but that was a nymph, and would have lacked wings no matter which species it was. Now is the time for the 15- to 20mm adults, so I can be certain of my identification this time round. It has the same lovely pale, slightly turquoise, green colour, but no wings. Definitely the southern.
I’m pretty sure I didn’t bring it back with me, but I can’t be absolutely certain.
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