Incredible Insects!

Hey everyone, I hope you enjoyed the strawberry solstice moon last night, Happy Solstice to you all. Today I wanted to start celebrating National Insect Week , which is a fantastic week-long event to inspire, educate and inform people about the beauty and intrigue of the real rulers of the world – insects! Insects are invertebrates, they all have three pairs of jointed legs, three body parts (head, thorax and abdomen), a pair of antennae and compound eyes. They are the most diverse range of animals in the entire world, after we are gone, they will be the great survivors, ruling without us once more. I am boggled by insects, there are so many and the knowledge is endless. I really admire Entomologists (insect scientists), their knowledge is incredible and they study so many elements of insects and their worlds! I find insects, like most of the natural world, fascinating and awe-inspiring, they play a huge role in keeping our eco-systems in check, we should be bowing to insects in gratitude – they break down matter, pollinate, fertilise and provide food for other plants and animals.

We took Rosie our lovely rescued greyhound for a walk on our patch, to see what we could find. It always takes my eyes a while to adjust to looking for insects, I was, as usual, distracted by the spiralling swallows and swifts. They always entrance me with their ballet. I was also hoping for a glance of our beautiful buzzard, alas, not tonight. So, after setting down to my task, it didn’t take long before we found some insects to marvel at.

The first to catch our eye was the vampire of the insect world, the Snipe Fly (Rhagio scolopacea). They are predatory and their mouthparts are adapted for piercing, many species feed on blood, while others predate other insects. The larvae are also predatory. They are pretty common, but it was still cool to see it. Also, I am not a photographer at all, but I am keen to improve these skills in the future.

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Snipe fly lying in wait for its prey on a common spotted orchid

 

 

Suddenly we saw a flash of blue light and then my eyes lasered in to meet the common blue damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum). I was hoping to see another to see some mating interactions, but alas not today. They are pretty common too, but I love the everyday stuff, it’s all extraordinary to me. These air-bound drifters, with wings folded long, are like little darts of joy. I always love seeing them. It was a little difficult to see, but I think we saw the female as the abdomen was not bright blue and spotted, like the male damselfly.  I’m not sure though, I’m not an expert and the photo is poor. I need to encourage the need for a DSLR!

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Next we found a beetle, as I said in my ‘Sacred Scarab’ post, I completely adore beetles, so I always love spotting them. This one was a Carrion Beetle or Burying Beetle (Silpha atrata) and gardeners will probably welcome these guys as they eat snails. They also, as their name suggests, eat dead and decaying animals such as mice and birds. Male and female carrion use teamwork to get their food, fighting off other hungry beasties to win and bury their meal. They are also pretty good parents too, they both take care of the larvae when they hatch. Again, beetles are really important for recycling and cleaning up pests. Revere the beetle, they deserve high praise!

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Finally, we focused in on an orange ladybird  (Halyzia sedecimguttata), it was getting pretty windy so it was hard to steady my hand! The one we found was a 16 spotted ladybird and although I could only see one side, I can rely on natural symmetry to guess! These little gems feed on mildews and likes to host in ash or sycamore trees. They overwinter in leaf litter and so it’s always nice to have a leaf pile in your garden, giving refuge to so many animals. Before 1987, they were a good indicator of ancient woodland but are now more widespread and are increasingly abundant. They love the light and are caught in moth traps a lot. They are just lovely.

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I hope you enjoyed travelling through our patch with me, a little.

Thanks for reading

Dara

3 Comments

  1. Good morning Dara, (it’s 10:38 am here ) I am outside in the yard enjoying my coffee and reading incredible insects, well done and very informative!
    I am also watching the Robins (very common bird here) drink water from the pond.

    Like

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