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Male Speckled Bush Cricket
Speckled Bush Cricket

Female Speckled Bush Cricket

Oak Bush Cricket  (Meconema thalassinum)
A completely arboreal small pale green Bush Cricket, growing to a length of 13-17mm. Found on trees in Oak woodland, as well as hedgerows and garden shrubs, but feeding mainly carnivorously on other insects. Both sexes are fully winged. Seen from July - October. Eggs are laid in tree bark at the end of the summer and the young emerge the following June.

Male Southern Oak Bush Cricket 
Southern Oak Bush Cricket  (Meconema meridionale)
This is the UK's only other completely arboreal Bush Cricket, growing to a length of 14-17mm. Found on deciduous trees in Oak woodland, as well as hedgerows and garden shrubs. This small and pale green species is only readily distinguishable from the Oak Bush Cricket as a fully grown adult. The wings of the Southern Oak Bush Cricket remain as little flaps even as an adult. Any wingless specimens found in autumn are likely to be SOB Crickets and not OB Crickets. Originally from the Mediterranean, this cricket was only recently first recorded in Kent in 2005.

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Male Southern Oak Bush Cricket in residential garden in Kent.

Female Long-winged Conehead Cricket 
Long-winged Conehead Cricket  (Conocephalus discolor)

The Long-winged Conehead Cricket is a green bush cricket found in grassland and woodland areas as well as damp habitats of the South and East of England. Growing up tp 17-19mm in length, they are one of the smaller bush crickets. They are identified by their green colour, brown-striped pointed head, and long brown wings. The Short-winged Conehead Cricket is very similar but its wings are barely half the length of its body.
It feeds largely on grasses but will also eat small insects as well. Nymphs emerge in May and adults can be found from the end of July. They are almost silent to human ears and produce only a feint hissing or buzzing sound. Eggs are laid in grass stems at the end of the summer. 


Female Long-winged Conehead Cricket 

Female Short-winged Cone-head Cricket 

Short-winged Cone-head Cricket   (Conocephalus dorsalis)

The Short-winged Cone-head Cricket has a body-length of 11-18mm. Usually, as its name suggests, the wings are short and undeveloped. Occasionally in long hot summers some specimens can develop fully functional wings allowing them to disperse further. This species is mainly found in the south of England but there are populations on coastal sites in northern England too. This species can be found on coastal saltmarshes, sand dunes, where it feeds on seeds heads, buds and flowers of maritime rushes and grasses. Inland it is found on lowland bogs, fens, reedbeds, river floodplains and by lakes and pools. Usually this species has a brown stripe running the length of its back but this stripe can also be black.

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Cockchaffer / aka Maybug, Doodlebug  (Melolontha melolontha)

The Cockchaffer is a medium sized beetle of 25-30mm. The sexes can be identified by the number of "leaves" on their antennae. Males have seven leaves, but the females have only two. Adult beetle appear between the end of April and May, and live for around six weeks. Adult beetles feed on oak leaves and conifer needles.

Female beetles tend to stay around trees. The female will lay up to 80 eggs during several stages of her adult life. Eggs are usually laid in fields where the grubs will feed on plant roots. 

Cockchaffer found in my garden in SE London 15th July 2016

Common Pill Woodlouse   (Armadillidium Vulgare)

Growing up to 18mm and found across the UK, the Common Pill Woodlouse is more frequently encountered in the south and east of England. Usually they are grey in colour but sometimes pink / orange specimens are found like the one pictured above. When disturbed these woodlouse can roll into a perfect ball to protect themselves from predators. The Common Pill Woodlouse lives for up to 3 years and feeds on decaying matter.

Common Pill Woodlouse found under a rotting log in SE London, 20th April 2021

A  40mm Centipede


There are 57 different species of Centipede found in the UK. Many are very small and can only be positively identified under a microscope. Despite common belief, no Centipede has 100 legs. In fact all Centipedes have an odd number of pairs of legs, ranging from 15 pairs of legs to 177 pairs of legs. 

Millipedes are quite easy to tell apart from Centipedes. Each segment of the body on a Centipede has just one pair of legs, unlike Millipedes that have two pairs of legs on many of their body segments. Centipedes have a much flatter profile than Millipedes. Centipedes are predominantly carnivorous, and they have a pair of front claws or forcipules that can inject a paralysing venom into their prey, so they can give quite a nip if handled. Because Centipedes are predators they're much faster moving than millipedes, which feed on decaying matter.

When viewed from above it's easy one can observe the fewer and longer legs of the Centipede and how they generally protrude sideways from the body, unlike the many legs of the Millipede which are hidden away underneath the body.

Brown Centipede  -  Lithobius forficatus
An 18-30mm Centipede with stocky build and 15 pairs of legs. Usually found in damp places under logs, stones and leaf litter.

Small 30mm Millipede
There are 62 known species of Millipede in the UK. There are over 10,000 species worldwide! Millipedes feed on decaying matter and rotting vegetation and play a vital role in breaking down garden waste. They are generally slow moving and are often found under leaf litter, in compost heaps or  or behind loose tree bark. During the winter they may also be found in an inactive state buried in the soil. In the UK the different species vary from around 2cm - 6cm in length. The young resemble the adults but with fewer body segments. New segments are added as the Millipede grows. 2-3 years is probably the average lifespan.

A larger 60mm Millipede

A few species of Millipede in the UK can be considered as pests by gardeners because they don't confine themselves to eating decaying matter. Some will also eat seedlings, roots and bulbs as well.

One of several 30mm Striped Millipedes found under a log on the borders of heathland and woodland in Surrey, 24th July 2020.

Striped Millipede  (Ommatoiulus sabulosus)
The Striped Millipede is easily identifiable by its dark brown body with two copper coloured stripes that run the length of its body. This species grows to around 30mm is is common and widespread across the UK. It is also found across much of Europe, the USA, India, Australia and New Zealand. Like most millipedes it is usually found under logs feeding on decaying matter, but this species has a preference for sandy soil. Unlike most other millipedes the Striped Millipede can sometimes be see active during the day climbing walls and trees where it feeds on algae.

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Orange Ladybird larvae   (Halyzia sedecimguttata)
16-Spot Orange Ladybird   (Halyzia sedecimguttata)

The Orange ladybird is a distinctive ladybird species with its light orange shell with a translucent lip and 14-16 creamy white spots, orange legs and yellow / orange head. Usually found in woodland from April to October feeding on mildew and fungus on Sycamore and Ash trees.

14-Spot Ladybird   (Propylea quatuordecimpunctata)

The 14-spot ladybird is a small ladybird species. They can be yellow or black with between four and 14 black or yellow spots. These spots are almost rectangular in shape.

Common Flesh Fly (Sarcophaga carnaria) in my garden in SE London, 6th July 2020
Common Flesh Fly  -  (Sarcophaga carnaria)
The Common Flesh Fly is a fairly large species of fly with a body-length of around 15mm. Flesh Flies lay their larvae in carrion, dung and rotting vegetation. Some species of Flesh Fly also lay their eggs / larvae in open wounds of mammals, hence their name. The maggot larvae reach full size in just a matter of days and then pupate under soil. They will not emerge until the following summer as adult flies. The adults will feed on most liquid foods whether from animals or plants. There are several Sarcophaga species that can only be distinguished by microscopic examination.

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Bluebottle Blow Fly 
The Bluebottle is a large fly growing up to 12mm in length. They are often found flying around the house making an irritating buzzing sound. These flies can lay up to 600 eggs which can hatch in just 48 hours in hot weather. The eggs will produce maggots that feed on decaying flesh. The adult flies however, feed on nectar. These flies are attracted to food, garbage and faeces as a potential egg-laying site. Once food is detected adult flies release a pheromone which alerts and attracts other flies.

Violet Ground Beetle -  (Carabus violaceous)
Violet Ground Beetle -  (Carabus violaceous and Carabus problematicus)
There are two types of Violet Ground Beetle in the UK, Carabus violaceous and Carabus problematicusBoth are very similar in appearance and both grow to around 30mm in length, making them some of our largest beetles. They can be distinguished by close inspection of their elytra (wing-cases). C. violaceous are smoother whereas C. problematicus have more defined ridges and dimples. Both types of Violet Ground Beetle are woodland or heathland species, but both can also be found in gardens too. These beetles are nocturnal hunters, feeding on unwanted garden pests such as fly larvae, slugs and other insects. They will also on occasion feed on over-ripe fruit. During the day these beetles usually hide away under logs and stones. Some specimens are arboreal and will spend their time in trees feeding on tree slugs and sap-runs from trees.  

Violet Ground Beetle -  (Carabus violaceous)

Violet Ground Beetle (Carabus problematicus) found under a log in woodland adjacent to Surrey heathland, 24th July 2020.

Violet Ground Beetle (Carabus problematicus) found under a log in woodland adjacent to Surrey heathland, 24th July 2020.

20mm Snail Hunter found wandering on the Cliffs of Horsey Gap, Great Yarmouth.

Snail Hunter Ground Beetle -  (Cychrus caraboides)
A medium-sized Ground Beetle growing to around 14-20mm in length. Often found under rotting logs and rocks especially in woodland and upland heather moor. The Snail Hunter Ground Beetle has some visual similarities to the Violet Ground Beetle however it lacks any of the metallic sheen of the Violet Ground Beetle and has a distinctive pear-shaped abdomen when compared to other similar beetles. It's also slightly smaller than most Carabus species and has rounded hind corners of its pronotum unlike the angular corners of Carabus species. Feeding mainly on slugs and snails the Snail Hunter has a long, thin head especially shaped for getting into snail shells to feed.

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Leaf Beetle  -  (Galeruca tanaceti)
These Leaf Beetles are found throughout the UK and can be abundant in the SE. They are often found in grassy dry meadows and fields. They range from 6-11mm in length but gravid females can be longer when the abdomen is full of eggs and protrudes from the wing cases.

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Leaf Beetle  -  (Chrysolina banksi)
These Leaf Beetles are found around coastal areas of England particularly in the SW & SE. They are usually found in open habitat and woodland. They range from 6-10mm in length. The main colour is metallic bronze / green and the legs are orange.

Leaf Beetle  -  (Chrysolina banksi)

2.5mm Rangwort Flea Beetle  -  photographed in my garden in SE London in July, on and around Ragwort plants.

Ragwort Flea Beetle  / Tansy Flea Beetle -  (Longitarsus jacobaeae)
These tiny beetles are just 2 - 4mm in length and are light golden brown in colour. They feed on the leaves of Ragwort plants and can usually be found from June to September.
This beetle has been used in conjunction with the Cinnabar Moth (Tyria jacobaeae) as a biological pest control for the spread of Ragwort.

Cabbage-stem Flea Beetle  -  (Psylliodes chrysocephala)
These tiny beetles are just 3 - 4.5mm in length and are variable in colour. Like fleas in adult form they have very powerful hind legs that they use to jump great distances for their size to evade potential predators. Unlike fleas though these beetles feed on the leaves of cabbage and other plants in the Brassica family, leaving tiny unsightly holes. The larvae feed on the stems. The larvae can be treated with parasitic nematodes.

Gravid female Green Dock Beetle  -  Gastrophysa virdidula
Green Dock Beetle  -  (Gastrophysa virdidula)
These beetles are around 4 - 7mm in length and can vary between green and gold in metallic colouration. These beetles can be found anywhere you find dock plants but they're usually around water. The larvae feed on the Dock Leaves, Rumex sp.

Black-Headed Cardinal Beetle  -  (Pyrochroa coccinea)
There are three types of Cardinal Beetle in the UK. The Black-Headed Cardinal Beetle can be distinguished by its size (up to 20mm) and its black head. Common or Red-Headed Cardinal Beetles (Pyrochroa serraticornis) obviously have a red head, and the Scarce Cardinal Beetle (Schizotus pectinicornis) are smaller and only grow to 7-9mm, and also have a black spot in the middle of their pronotum. Cardinal Beetles are carnivores and live on smaller insects but will also feed on pollen too. Cardinal Beetles are sometimes confused with the smaller Lilly Beetle, which is regarded as a pest by gardeners, but Cardinal Beetles can be distinguished by their distinctive comb-like antennae. Cardinal Beetles are most commonly seen on flower heads found at the edge of woodland, usually from May to the end June, but occasionally from April to July. These beetles are also sometimes referred to as the Scarlet Fire Beetles.

Black-Headed Cardinal Beetle taking flight

Cardinal Beetle larvae (P. cf coccinea) found under loose tree bark in a wooded park in SE London 21st March 2021

The larvae of all three Cardinal Beetle species are long, flat and orange in colour and develop under loose bark of broad-leaved trees, particularly Oak and Beech. The larvae of Pyrochroa coccinea and Pyrochroa serraticornis are very similar in appearance but can be separated by a raised transverse line at the base of the eighth tergite (body segment) found on Pyrochroa serraticornis. The smaller Schizotus pectinicornis can be distinguished by its curved cerci (pincer-like appendages at the tail end) as opposed to the straight cerci of the other two species.

Cardinal Beetle larvae (P. cf coccinea) found under loose tree bark in a wooded park in SE London 21st March 2021

Cardinal Beetle larvae (P. cf coccinea) found under loose tree bark in a wooded park in SE London 23rd March 2021

Male Scorpion Fly

Scorpion Fly  (Panorpa communis
This is the most common of three species of Scorpion Fly (Panorpa Sp) found within the UK. All of which are very difficult to distinguish and can only be separated by close examination of the sexual organs under a microscope. These flies have a wing-span of around 35mm and they are mainly scavengers, feeding on dead insects, which they regularly steal from spider's webs. They will also feed on rotting fruit and even bird droppings. They are weak fliers and are often found in shady areas of hedgerows, nettle-beds and gardens. The larvae live in soil and leaf litter.

Male Scorpion Fly

The male Scorpion Fly presents the female with a gift of a dead insect or drops of saliva to placate the female and avoid being eaten by her before attempting to mate. These insects are harmless to humans and do not possess any form of sting. The scorpion-like tail on the male is in fact its genitalia. Females have a straight tail.

Female St. Mark's Fly
St. Mark's Fly   (Bibio marci)
The St. Mark's Fly is one of 20 species of fly from the Family Bibionidae in the UK. These are species of true fly known as Hawthorn Flies. The 14mm females look very different from the 12mm males and have small heads with smaller eyes. The smaller males have larger heads with bulbous eyes. St. Mark's Flies appear around St. Mark's Day on the 25th April, and can be seen throughout May. Adults feed on nectar and are therefore important pollinators of trees, flowers and crops. Adults only live for about a week or two. After mating the females lay their eggs in soil before they die. Larvae feed on roots, grasses, rotting vegetation and leaf mould and are common around compost heaps. As well as gardens St. Mark's Flies can be found on grassland, wetland, hedges and woodland edges.

Rough-Haired Lagria Beetle
Rough-Haired Lagria Beetle  /  The Golden Beetle   (Lagria hirta)
The Rough-Haired Lagria Beetle is a species of Darkling Beetle. Adults have a shiny, hairy golden coat and feed on nectar and pollen. It is often found during the day on either low foliage or flowers, particularly open flowers such as daisies or on plants belonging to the carrot family. Adults have a short life and are attracted to light. So it's not unusual to find them entering into houses on warm nights around July. The larvae feed on decaying vegetable or plant matter from Autumn to the following summer. They have a preference for light or sandy soil.

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Dark-Edged Bee-Fly    (Bombylius major)
Dark-Edged Bee-Fly    (Bombylius major)
These harmless flies may look scary with their orange and black colours, and their long proboscis, which is actually a feeding tube for nectar, but they have no sting and can't bite humans. The larvae of the Bee-Fly are predatory though and feed on wasp and bee larvae. The Dark-Edged Bee-Fly is the largest and most common of the 12 Bee-Fly species in the UK. They emerge in early spring and often feed on Primrose nectar. They are commonly seen in April and May on sunny days at woodland edges and flower meadows feeding on the nectar of spring flowers on sunning themselves at ground level.

The harmless Dark-Edged Bee-Fly    (Bombylius major)

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One of a dozen specimens of Dark-Edged Bee-Fly (Bombylius major) seen at the woodlands edge in East Grinstead, 4th April 2021

One of a dozen specimens of Dark-Edged Bee-Fly (Bombylius major) seen at the woodlands edge in East Grinstead, 4th April 2021

Golden-Bloomed Grey Longhorn Beetle    (Agapanthia villosovirdescens)
These Longhorn Beetles have a body-length of around 22mm, but their black and white banded antennae grow even longer than the beetle's body. They are found in spring and summer in damp meadows and hedgerows. Adults feed mainly on Cow Parsley, Nettles and Hogweed, whilst the larvae can be found on various plants including thistles. After mating the female will bore into the stem of thistles and other herbaceous plants to lay her eggs. Despite their impressive size and distinctive markings, these beetles are completely harmless to humans. They are considered common across central, south and east of England. There are 60 species of Longhorn Beetle in the UK but this is one of the most easily recognised species.

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Golden Bloomed Grey Longhorn Beetle  -  (Agapanthia villosovirdescens)

A mating pair of Golden Bloomed Grey Longhorn Beetles  -  (Agapanthia villosovirdescens)

Common Green Lacewing    (Chrysoperla carnea)
There are 14 species of Green Lacewing and 29 species of Brown Lacewing in the UK. They are extremely difficult to tell apart. The Common Green Lacewing is usually green in colour but blue specimens do occur. Older specimens of the Common Green Lacewing turn yellow / brown and often develop red spots especially when they hibernate over winter, which is often done in buildings. The Common Green Lacewing is the only species that over-winters as an adult. They have two sets of transparent veined-wings and large, bulbous, copper-coloured eyes. They have a body-length of around 10mm but the wings can make their total length around 20mm. As larvae they feed on aphids and other tiny insects and are a great biological pest control for the garden as are ladybirds. Adults also feed on nectar and pollen from flowers. Lacewings are weak fliers and are easy prey for creatures that hunt on the wing such as birds, wasps and dragonflies. The Common Green Lacewing can be found all year round and is the only Lacewing that hibernates as an adult. Peak periods are from May to September.

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6mm well fed Lacewing larvae. Found on a Sycamore Tree in my garden in SE London, 10th May 2020.

Lacewing larvae are known as "Aphid Lions" because of their vivacious appetite for aphids, insect eggs and other soft-bodied invertebrates. They can consume garden pests at a rate of 200 per week. They are considered a gardener's friend and can be bought online to use as a biological pest controller in your garden. These Aphid Lions have sickle-shaped jaws which pierce their victims and inject a paralyzing venom. The aphid lions then suck out the partially digested body fluids. Some species of Lacewing larvae use debris and the remains of their prey to camouflage and disguise their bodies from predators. Unlike the larvae most adult Lacewings are not carnivorous and feed mainly on pollen, nectar and honeydew.

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Brown Lacewing - Hemerobius Sp.

Small 5mm Lacewing larvae. Found on a Sycamore Tree in my garden in SE London, 10th June 2020.

There are over 280 different species of Hoverfly in the UK. Despite some species being hornet or wasp mimics in appearance, these flies are completely harmless to humans. 

Pellucid HoverFly  -  (Volucella pellecens)

Pellucid HoverFly    (Volucella pellecens)
The Pellucid Fly or Pellucid Hoverfly is a large and fairly distinctive species of fly found across the UK in hedgerows and woodlands. It is sometimes called the Great Pied Hoverfly. They have a large ivory-coloured band across the abdomen and large dark spots on the wings, and a wingspan of around 30mm. The body-length is 13-17mm. The larvae live in the nests of social wasps and bees, and feed on waste products and the larvae of the bees / wasps. The other species which can be confused with this one is the Leucozona lucorum which is smaller in size.

Xanthogramma pedissequum Hoverfly photographed in my garden in SE London in June 2016 & 2019
Hoverfly - Xanthogramma pedissequum
A very striking hoverfly seen from May to September and peaking in late June and early July. They have a body-length of 10-13mm and a wing-length of 7-10mm.  Xanthogramma pedissequum are found across England and Wales and can be common in southern England, preferring grassland and open fields close to deciduous forests. Little is known about the larval stage of these hoverflies but they have been found feeding on aphids in the nests of Black Garden Ants and Yellow Meadow Ants.

There are three species of Xanthogramma in the UK which can be very difficult to distinguish:  X. pedissequum,  X. stackelbergi &  X. citrofasciatum

Pied HoverFly  -  (Scaeva pyrastri)

Pied HoverFly    (Scaeva pyrastri)
The Pied Hoverfly is another large and fairly distinctive species of harmless fly growing to around 15mm in length. They can be found across the UK in gardens and meadows. It can be recognised by it's dark abdomen with pairs of creamy-white curved bars. The Pied Hoverfly is a gardener's friend with adults feeding on nectar whilst the larvae feed on aphids. This species migrates from Central and Southern Europe and reaches Britain around June each year, and they have usually returned to Europe by November.

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Ruby-Tailed Wasp  -  (Chrysis cf ignita)

Ruby-Tailed Wasp / Jewelled Wasp    (Chrysis ignita)
The Ruby-Tailed Wasp is regarded by many as the UK's most beautiful insect despite being only 10-12mm in length. Ruby-Tailed Wasps have a metallic green / blue head and thorax and a bright red / pink / orange abdomen. As adults these wasps feed on pollen and nectar. Adult females lay their eggs in the burrows of ground-dwelling Solitary Bees, with a preference for Mason Bees. Ruby-Tailed Wasps can often be found searching fence posts and old stone walls in search of the nests of Mason Bees. When hatched the young grubs of the Ruby-Tailed Wasp will feed on the grubs of the Solitary Bees and emerge from the nest the following spring in adult form. Because of this practice these wasps are often known as Cuckoo Wasps.

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Ruby-Tailed Wasp  -  (Chrysis cf ignita)

Unlike many species of Solitary Wasp most species of Ruby-Tailed Wasp have no venom in their sting to defend themselves. Invading the nests of larger bees with powerful stings is a dangerous business for the defenceless Ruby-Tailed Wasp so they have developed an effective defence strategy. The Ruby-Tailed Wasp has a concave underside of its abdomen. When threatened the wasp will curl itself into a ball, carefully tucking its vulnerable legs out of reach. The upside of the Ruby-Tailed Wasp is extremely tough and impenetrable against the stings of bees. As a last resort the frustrated bee usually has to carry the invading wasp out of its burrow. But these wasps are persistent and they will return again once the bee leaves its burrow.

Ruby-Tailed Wasp (Chrysis cf ignita) feeding on pollen and nectar in my garden in SE London 13/07/2019.

There are a few species of Ruby-Tailed Wasps in the UK and they can only be distinguished and accurately identified by expert microscopic examination. Although wide-spread across the UK Ruby-Tailed Wasps are considered uncommon and some species are high priority for conservation.

Ruby-Tailed Wasp  -  (Chrysis cf ignita)

Ruby-Tailed Wasp  -  (Chrysis cf ignita)

Ruby-Tailed Wasp  -  (Chrysis cf ignita)

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