Devils Coach Horse Larvae (Ocypus olens)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010 Adam Tilt 0 Comments


Tonight I have a slightly more unusual (well for me anyway) piece of wildlife for the blog. I spent a couple of hours down at Burry Port earlier this evening and noticed the following insect walking across one of the pavements.

12291 - Devils Coach Horse Larvae (Ocypus olens) 12289 - Devils Coach Horse Larvae (Ocypus olens)

After much googling I have come to the conclusion that this is one of the larval stages of the Devils Coach Horse Beetle (Ocypus olens). Being in its larval stage it has been difficult to find any similar photos but the one I found here looks pretty damn close to me. These beetles apparently go through three different larval stages before they finally reach their adult form. When fully developed they show little resemblance to the form I saw, taking on a shape that seems to fit their ominous sounding name far better. I have never seen either the larval or the adult stage before so this is definitely a first for me.

Elsewhere Burry Port was very quiet, especially in comparison to the migrant fest of the weekend. The weather was however noticeably colder with temperatures plummeting towards single figures and a strong breeze blowing, so this may have had some effect. A couple of Pied Wagtails and Rock Pipits were the most vocal birds, whilst a flock of Starlings were gathering nesting material from the surrounding grass. Other than a fly over Mallard and a Magpie the following Herring Gull was the only other thing on offer. It just goes to show that you can't get lucky every time that you go out exploring.

12292 - Herring Gull

On an interesting side note it is worth looking at the following couple of pictures to see if you can spot what isn't quite right.

12287 - Burry Port 12288 - Burry Port

If you haven't worked it out the oddities are the very large piles of sand that are slap bang in the middle of the main channel in and out of the port. Their size in comparison to the boats shows just how high they are. I had heard that the authorities were having a hard time of keeping a channel open but this looks a tad ridiculous. A nearby sign reveals that the sand has actually been piled up there after being dredged from the left due to a lack of a license to move the sand away from the site. I imagine this is proving to be a fairly futile approach as when the tide comes back in much of the sand must be being redistributed. This whole issue has arisen after the port was essentially dammed to keep a constant level of water within, thus enabling the creation of a large area to be used for boat storage. At high tide there is sufficient clearance for the boats to sail over the dam and out into the Burry Inlet. The waterways used to be kept clear by the river which runs through the port, but now that its flow has essentially been blocked there is a very real problem of sediment accumulation. This is presumably an issue that is only going to get worse and one which has no easy or cheap solution.

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