Bugging London’s Mistletoe

Hot on the heels of Lambeth’s secret mistletoe database, I find that mistletoe in the London Borough of Richmond has been bugged! And no I don’t mean as an anti-mistletoe rustler deterrent (don’t be silly!) – I’m talking about bugs – small insects of the order Hemiptera (Miridae, if you want to be more precise).

The story is this; back in July 2003, a new mistletoe-dependent bug, Hypseloecus visci, was found on mistletoe on apple trees on National Trust land in Somerset. Dedicated mistletoe diary readers will (of course) recall that the NT mentioned this in a press release back in December 2003.

Since then, in best bug-hunting tradition, it has been found on other sites in Britain, including Bushy Park, Richmond. So what? Well, the Bushy Park record was news to me (announced in the British Journal of Entomology and Natural History on Thursday last week – via David Gibbs and Bernard Nau), and it’s critically important to my work on London Mistletoe – which requires more work on mistletoe-dependent insects in London.

And, being the mistletoe anorak that I am I have to admit that, on the desk before me, there happen to be some insect samples from Bushy Park mistletoe, waiting to be sent off for expert id… are there some more Hypseloecus visci in the samples? I will tell all in due course….