Other macro pages:  -  MACRO 1,    MACRO 2,    MACRO 3

50mm male Great Green Bush Cricket (Tettigonia viridissima). One of several found on a marshland site in SE London, 20th July 2020.

Great Green Bush Cricket  -  (Tettigonia viridissima)

The Great Green Bush Cricket is a very large and unmistakable cricket growing to a length of 70mm, making it by far the largest cricket in the UK. They're bright green in colour with a rustic brown stripe running the length of their back, and orange antennae. Adults develop lengthy wings which males use to rub together producing a long and continuous song to attract the females. Despite their bright colour and large size these crickets are excellently camouflaged amidst the reeds and long grass on the grassland and marshland sites where they are found in Southern England and Southern Wales, usually between May and October. Occasionally this species can be yellow in colour or green with yellow legs.


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50mm male Great Green Bush Cricket (Tettigonia viridissima).


The female Great Green Bush Cricket has a slightly down-turned ovipositor which it uses to deposit eggs in loose, dry soil. Adults feed on both vegetation and other insects.




50mm male Great Green Bush Cricket (Tettigonia viridissima).







50mm male Great Green Bush Cricket (Tettigonia viridissima). One of several found on a marshland site in SE London, 20th July 2020.

These large crickets have a reputation of giving a painful nip when handled but thankfully this one was well behaved.






50mm male Great Green Bush Cricket (Tettigonia viridissima). One of several found on a marshland site in SE London, 20th July 2020.








The long and continuous call of the male Great Green Bush Cricket.








21mm female House Cricket (Acheta domesticus)

House Cricket  -  (Acheta domesticus)

The House Cricket is a medium-sized, and mainly nocturnal, cricket growing to around 17-21mm in body-length. Females can be identified by their long ovipositor between the two rear appendages, which can reach 12mm itself. Adult specimens have long hind wings which are often shed. Originally from Asia this species was used as the industry standard food source by the pet trade for reptile and tarantula species throughout the world from 1950 to around 2000. With their soft bodies they were suitable prey for many species. Because of their popularity in the pet trade House Crickets could also be found living in the wild as an introduced species in many countries across Europe, Asia and America. Their tolerance to cold temperatures allowed this species to flourish in many countries including the UK, where overwintering occurred in adult form in houses, buildings, sheds and other sheltered locations.

In 2002 the "Cricket Paralysis Virus" spread rapidly throughout Europe and wiped out huge numbers of House Crickets both in captivity and in the wild. This helped to bring the species under control in countries where they were non-native but it also left many reptile keepers without a food source for their pets. The CPV had the same effect in 2010 in the USA and the pet-food industry quickly shifted to using the Jamaican Field Cricket (Gryllus assimilis) as a replacement due to its immunity to the virus.

House Crickets are still farmed in great numbers not only for the pet trade but also for human consumption, providing a healthy and sustainable source of protein and omega-3. Dry roasting is the most common method of preparation, although deep-frying is also popular.

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20mm Carrion Beetle larvae (Silpha tristis) found under a dumped mattress on a wetlands site in SE London, 29th June 2020.

Large Carrion Beetle  -  (Silpha tristis)

This species of Carrion Beetle is fairly widespread in England and Wales and is usually found on coastal sites and areas with sandy soil. The larvae resemble a large black woodlouse, but with only six legs. The larvae take 6-8 weeks to develop before pupating for a further 2-3 weeks and then emerging as adult beetles. The adult beetle is uniformly greenish black in colour and has a body-length of 13-17mm.

Silpha tristis are members of the Silphidae family, consisting of Carrion, Burying and Sexton Beetles. This family has just 21 species in the UK and Silphidae are referred to as Large Carrion Beetles to distinguish them from other families of smaller beetle that are often found around carrion. Most species of Silphinae are found on carrion where they live and breed and where the larvae will develop. Alternative food sources are sometimes used including decaying fungi, compost and dung.

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15mm Snail Hunting Carrion Beetle found under a log on grassland in Murston, Kent.

Snail Hunting Carrion Beetle -  (Silpha laevigata)
A medium-sized Carrion Beetle growing to around 12-18mm in length. Silpha laevigata typically feeds on carrion but will readily predate snails too. It can be found in various habitats and although many sightings are coastal this species is often found inland too. They are more frequently encountered in the southern half of England during the summer months. This species can be easily distinguished from other Sipha species by the absence of any raised longitudinal lines on the elytra.

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Rose Sawfly larva  -  (Arge ochropus / pagana)
Large Rose Sawfly  -  (Arge ochropus / pagana)

Rose Sawfly are black in colour with a yellow / orange abdomen and grow to around 10mm in length as adults. The larvae feed on both wild and cultivated roses and can cause serious damage to the rose plant. The adult uses its saw tail to cut a slit in the stem of the rose plant and lay its eggs. As they grow the stem splits open. The larvae emerge and immediately start feeding on the leaves on the rose plant. Larvae can grow to 20-25mm in length. The larvae of both species Arge ochropus / pagana are very difficult to distinguish.




Sawfly (Macrophya annulata) found wandering on Strawberry plants in my garden in SE London, June 2020.
Sawfly  -  (Macrophya annulata)

Macrophya annulata is a spider-hunting wasp-mimic and can often be seen at ground level. They usually grow to a length of 11-12mm and are widespread across the UK. Adult forms can be found in May-June. The larvae feed on Rose and Blackberry. Sawflies have short adult lives and usually only survive for 7-10 days as adults. Many sawfly resemble species of wasp but lack the narrow waist typically associated with wasps. Most species of Sawfly are plant feeders although a few are parasitic.

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Common Red Soldier Beetle  (Rhagonycha fulva)
Common Red Soldier Beetle  (Rhagonycha fulva)
A common and widespread beetle found across the UK and growing to around 1cm in length. Adults are usually seen from June to August on wild flowers. They feed on nectar and pollen but will also predate on other small insects visiting the flower. This beetle is harmless to humans but is often mistakenly feared by children and called the "Bloodsucker" because of its bright red appearance. The larvae live at the base of long grass and feed on small insects and other invertebrate such as slugs. There are around 40 different species of Soldier Beetle in the UK with varying combinations of red, black and orange colouration.


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10mm Black Garden Ant queen  -  photographed 15th September 2019 in SE London
Black Garden Ant   -   (Lasius niger)
The Black Garden Ant, or Common Black Ant, is the most common of the 60 species of ant found in the UK and they can also be found across most of Europe, North and South America, Asia and Australia. Queens can grow to over 15mm in length whilst female workers are around 3mm. Workers are black in colour whilst queens are far browner. The Black Garden Ant lives in a colony consisting of a queen and up to 15,000 female workers. The workers tend to the queen and the larvae and also gather food for the colony. The colonies are built in dry soil which is usually positioned in a spot where it is warmed by the sun. This can be in lawns or flowerbeds, but under heavy items such as paving slabs is the most regular choice of location.

When the colony has reached its maximum capacity the queen starts to give birth to new virgin winged queens known as princesses, and flying males known as drones. The princesses are larger than the drones and considerably larger than the female workers. When conditions are right the flying ants will swarm and leave the colonies in search of partners from other colonies to mate with. The queen will give birth to large numbers of these winged forms of ant, known as alates, but most will be eaten by birds and never get the opportunity to build new colonies.

The males will only live very short lives of around one week and die soon after mating. The new queens will usually mate with several different males before they begin their search for somewhere to start a new colony. They will then chew off their own wings and live the rest of their lives as terrestrial ants. During their mating period the queen will have stored enough sperm from the males to allow her to lay thousands of eggs over her 15 year lifespan. In captivity some queens have lived for 28 years!

Once a suitable location has been found the queen will start building an underground chamber where she will lay her first eggs. She will not feed again for several weeks until her offspring are reared and able to leave the colony and set off to forage for food for her. When a foraging worker ant finds a source of food it will carry what it can back to the nest whilst leaving a pheromone scent trail allowing other worker ants to follow her footsteps to the food source. The Black Garden Ant is the only species of British ant that regularly ventures into human homes.

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One of many Southern Wood Ants marching up and down a Silver Birch Tree at Crooksbury Common, Surrey. 24th July 2020

Southern Wood Ant  (Formica rufa)
The Southern Wood Ant, or Red Wood Ant, as they are sometimes known, is the most common species of Wood Ant in the UK. Wood Ants are the UK's largest native ants with workers reaching 10mm in length whilst queens grow to 12mm in length. Like other Wood Ants they are an aggressive species with large, powerful biting jaws and the ability to spray formic acid in their defence. The Southern Wood Ant is most commonly associated with coniferous forests but they can also be found in deciduous forests consisting of large broadleaved trees too. They build large nests in warm, sunny clearings and woodland edges made from a mixture of soil, leaves, twigs and pine needles. These nests can consist of up to 400,000 workers and the colony can claim vast territories which it will defend from other ant species. Wood Ants will often hunt in tree canopies and can be seen in large numbers marching up and down tree trunks. If threatened by birds whilst in the tree the ants will take evasive action by dropping out of the tree and falling to the ground. Badgers are known to raid Wood Ant nests and can consume large numbers of ants and ant pupae. 


Southern Wood Ant with the head of a smaller ant species at Crooksbury Common, Surrey. 24th July 2020

Wood Ants can be very difficult to identify down to species level but one identifying feature of Formica rufa is the absence of tiny fringe hairs around the eyes and edges of the head which are present on other species of Wood Ant found in the UK. Wood Ants have been shown to protect their nests by incorporating tree resin into the structure of the nests. Tree resin is known to contain antimicrobial properties which when combined with the ant's own formic acid can shield the nest with powerful antifungal protection. Studies have also demonstrated that both Woodpeckers and Eurasian Jay's will land on nests of Wood Ants to provoke a defensive response from the ants which are quick to defend the nest by spraying the intruder with formic acid. The birds use this acid shower to rid themselves of mites and parasites. Wood Ants are sometimes deliberately introduced to forests as a form of biological pest control.

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30mm Sea Slater  -  found under a rock along the edge of the River Thames, Thamesmead, SE London. 13th November 2019
Sea Slater   -   (Ligia oceanica)
The Sea Slater, sometimes referred to as the Sea Louse or Sea Roach, is a crustacean and a larger close relative of the woodlouse found in gardens. However this species is not found in gardens but instead found living under rocks and debris along the coastline all around Britain. Sea Slaters live for 2-3 years and are the largest of the oniscid isopods and grow to around 30mm in length. Like all members of the Woodlouse family Sea Slaters play an important role in the ecosystem as recyclers by feeding on decaying plant and animal material. During the daytime Sea Slaters hide away under rocks but they can be seen at night as they emerge and scavenge for rotting seaweed and other decaying matter at low tide. Sea Slaters are equipped with gills allowing them to breath underwater if necessary when the tide comes in, but they are primarily a land dwelling species. 

In the UK we also have two other species of Water Slater that are entirely aquatic. However both Asellus aquaticus and Asellus meridianus are considerably smaller than Sea Slaters and grow to around 10mm. Both species of Water Slater are found in freshwater locations such as ponds, and slow moving streams.

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10mm Land Hopper playing dead  -  one of hundreds found under a log in oak woodland, SE London. 10th May 2020
Landhopper   -   (Arcitalitrus dorrieni)
The Landhopper has various common names including the Woodhopper, Lawn Shrimp and Australian Mud Shrimp. Landhoppers grow up to 10mm in length and along with Woodlice are the only totally terrestrial crustacean to be found in the UK. The Landhopper lives in dark, damp locations in gardens and woodland under rotting wood and leaf litter and feeds entirely on decaying plant matter. Landhoppers live in large groups and when disturbed they jump around using powerful abdomen contractions and releases. Their next line of defence is to play dead. Their visual appearance, as well as their jumping behavior, gives them a strong resemblance to a giant flea. Arcitalitrus dorrieni is considered rare in the UK and is generally confined to South West England and Southern Wales, with the exception of scattered and isolated sites across the UK.

There are various species of Landhopper found across the world but they are all found in the Southern Hemisphere. Arcitalitrus dorrieni has been in the UK since 1924 during Victorian times when it is believed to have accidentally been imported amidst tropical plants originating from Australia. As an invasive species it is encouraged for sightings to be recorded here.

Landhoppers shouldn't be confused with their cousin the Sandhopper (Talitrus saltator), which is similar in appearance and behavior but is found on coastal sites, often under wet sand and seaweed, but is a native species to the UK. Sandhoppers are paler in colour and larger in size than the Landhopper and can grow to around 20mm.

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Various Sand Hoppers ranging from 8-12mm. Found under seaweed along the River Thames, SE London. 23rd August 2020
Sand Hopper   -   (Talitrus saltator)
Sand Hoppers, also known as Sand Fleas, are a native species of amphipod usually found amongst seaweed, debris and decaying algae left at the high water mark of coastal or brackish waters. During sunny days it will often bury itself up to 30cm beneath the mud or sand, emerging at night to feed. Sand Hoppers live for around 18-24 months and will grow to a length of around 20mm. During freezing temperatures Sand Hoppers will bury themselves to depths of around 50cm. Unlike their smaller and more colourful cousins, the Land Hopper, Sand Hoppers are dull grey to cream and sometimes green in colour. As with the Land Hopper these Sand Hoppers will briefly jump around like crazy when disturbed as they dash for cover. If captured they immediately play dead as shown in the image above. Sand Hoppers soon dry out and die if left exposed in the open and must remain in damp conditions. They play an important role in their ecosystem where they are an major source food to a huge number of fish and birds.




Male Stripe-Legged Robberfly photographed in my garden in SE London June 2019

Stripe-Legged Robberfly   -   (Dioctria baumhaueri, previously Dioctria hyalipennis)
Dioctria sp. are small species of Robberfly. The Stripe-Legged Robberfly has a body-length of around 8 - 13mm and is widespread and common throughout England and the East of Wales from May to August. These flies are predators feeding on smaller insects they catch either in the air or on the ground. Most Dioctria sp. are difficult to identify without very close inspection. The Stripe-Legged Robberfly is predominantly black in colour but the two pairs of front legs are orange with a dark stripe running the length of the upper surface.


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Stripe-Legged Robberfly with Solitary Bee prey, photographed in my garden in SE London 9th June 2020

As with other species of Robberfly Stripe-Legged Robberflies catch their victims with their long, powerful legs and proceed to stab the soft body parts of their prey with their piercing mouth-parts. The piercing mouth-parts then inject saliva containing both nerve toxins that paralyze the victim and enzymes that start to dissolve the victim's insides so they can be drunk.






Stripe-Legged Robberfly photographed in my garden in SE London 28th June 2016







One of many Striped Oak Bugs (Rhabdomiris striatellus) found on a large Oak Tree in Oxted Surrey, 17th May 2020

Striped Oak Bug  -   (Rhabdomiris striatellus)
A distinctively marked bug that is primarily associated with Oak Trees and Hawthorn Bushes. Adults are usually 7-9mm in length and feed on small insects such as aphids. Striped Oak Bugs overwinter as eggs which hatch in April and grow to adults by May / July. This species is sometimes confused with the similarly coloured and marked Mirid Bug (Miris striatus) which is slightly larger at 9-11mm but is found in the same habitat. Miris striatus are longer, darker and can be distinguished by their black heads.

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Plant Bug (Deraeocoris flavilinea) found on a large Sycamore Tree in my garden in SE London, 10th June 2020

Plant Bug  / Mirid Bug  -  (Deraeocoris flavilinea)
Deraeocoris flavilinea Plant Bug is primarily found on the host plants Sycamore and Field Maple, but can also be found on other trees and shrubs. This is a fairly new species to the UK  since 1996 and is now common across southern and central England. Adults are usually seen from June to July and grow to around 7-8mm in length. Females tend to be lighter and more orange in colour than the dark male specimen pictured above.

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8mm Meadow Plant Bug nymph (Leptopterna cf dolabrata) found in a grass Meadow in SE London, 20th May 2020

Meadow Plant Bug  -  (Leptopterna dolabrata)
The Meadow Plant Bug is a common and widespread species across the UK and Europe. Adults typically grow to 8 - 8.5mm but can range from 7 - 10mm. Adults are usually found from June to September. Adult males are always macropterous, meaning they have fully developed wings. Adult females are usually only partially winged and look similar to the late nymphs. Males darken from yellow and black to orange and black as they age. Meadow Plant Bugs feed on the plant sap of grass seeds of a various species and cause the seed heads to shrivel and prematurely whiten.

Leptopterna dolabrata is one of two very similar species, with Leptopterna ferrugata looking very similar. However, Leptopterna dolabrata is usually found in damper habitats.

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Tortoise Beetle (Cassida vibex) photographed 13th May 2020 on thistles in a grass meadow SE London.
Tortoise Beetle   (Cassida vibex)
There are twelve species of Tortoise Beetle in the UK. The one shown here is Cassida vibex which grows to 5.5-8mm in length. Tortoise Beetles are species of Leaf Beetle. As their name suggests they have an unusual defence system much like that of a tortoise. When approached they pull themselves down and stick to the leaf beneath them whilst tucking their legs and antennae safely out of sight. Cassida vibex is usually found on thistles and knapweeds but can be found on a variety of other herbaceous plants too. Although causing unsightly small holes in the leaves of plants Tortoise Beetles are rarely found in significant enough numbers to do any real harm so aren't usually considered a real pest by gardeners.


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"Cuckoo spit"  -  Spittle concealing the Common Froghopper found on Roses in my garden in SE London 9th June 2020

Common Froghopper  /  Meadow Spittlebug   (Philaenus spumarius
Have you ever seen this "spit" on your plants and wondered what it was? A common misconception is that it's either a type of fungus or an excretion from the plant itself. Well the truth is if you look inside the foamy spittle you'll find there's a little bug to blame for it. "Cuckoo spit" as it's often referred to has absolutely nothing to do with Cuckoos but is an excretion from a tiny bug called a Froghopper or Spittlebug. As a nymph these little bugs feed on plant sap and as they feed they excrete this white foamy, frothy substance which completely hides the nymph itself. It is believed that this spittle is a form of defence to disguise and protect the nymph from predators whilst it's young. However this form of defence isn't effective against all predators. In fact it could even attract some predators such as lizards. Sand Lizards have been observed to not only drink the frothy spittle but then consume the bug as well! Adult Froghoppers lay their eggs in plant stems in autumn, which emerge as nymphs in spring and immediately begin feeding and producing the spittle. Whilst hidden away in the spittle the nymphs will moult five times before leaving the spittle and living out in the open as adults. 

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3mm Common Froghopper / Meadow Spittlebug nymph (Philaenus spumarius) removed from spittle on my roses.

The Common Froghopper grows to around 5-7mm as an adult. This species is extremely common and widespread and can be found in most open habitats including in gardens, parks and open forests, and has been recorded feeding on over 400 different species of plant. The Common Froghopper is highly variable in both pattern and colour as an adult and ranges from light brown to dark brown, yellow, green and even black in colour. Nymphs are initially yellow at the early stages and light green as they mature. Whilst Froghoppers are not dangerous to plants and are not considered a pest to gardeners in the UK, in Europe they can be carriers of the bacterial disease Xylella fastidiosa which is deadly to many plants including olive trees. As such sightings of the Common Froghopper should be recorded here to help monitor their range: RECORD SIGHTING
As of June 2019 11,000 records had been submitted from across the UK with the south of England being a hot-spot. 81% of these records came from gardens.

Froghoppers (Cercopoidea) and Leafhoppers (Cicadellidae) are almost identical in appearance but can be separated by examining the hind legs. Leafhoppers have 1 to 3 rows of fine, thin, spines, whereas; a Froghopper has 2 wide and thick spines on the outer edge of the hind leg.



Red & Black Froghopper    (Cercopis vulnerata)
Red & Black Froghopper    (Cercopis vulnerata)
The Red & Black Froghopper is one of our largest Homopterans (Leafhopper bugs) at 9-11mm. There are a few very similar species in Europe but in the UK they are unmistakable. Found in Woodland clearings, grassland and meadows from April to August, resting on the stems of grass and low growing vegetation. Unlike other species of Froghopper the nymphs of the Red & Black Froghopper live underground feeding on plant roots and do not conceal themselves in spittle.






Planthopper nymph   (Issus sp. probably coleoptratus)
Planthopper    (Issus cf coleoptratus)
These small plant hoppers grow to 5.5-7mm in length. They feed on the phloem of trees and nymphs can be found overwintering on Ivy. Unlike most species in this family this insect can't fly. However, despite their tiny size adults are one of the most powerful jumping insects on the earth and can jump at a 45 degree angle for a length of over 1 metre! Nymphs have gears on their hind legs which synchronise limbs when jumping and prevent the insect from spiralling during a jump.

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Rhododendron Leafhopper (Graphocephala fennahi)
Rhododendron Leafhopper    (Graphocephala fennahi)
The Rhododendron Leafhopper is a bright and colourful bug that feeds as both adult and nymph on the sap of Rhododendron plants. It's one of the very few species of insect that will feed from Rhododendron plants and although the Leafhopper does no damage to the plant since their introduction to the UK there has been a fear that this species might be responsible for spreading a fungus (Seifertia azalea) to Rhododendron plants that prevents them from flowering. There is some doubt on whether this is the case though. Adult Rhododendron Leafhoppers can be found wherever Rhododendron plants are found, from July right through to December and grow to around 7-10mm in length. When approached they evade danger by either jumping or flying and revealing their black wings. Rhododendron Leafhoppers originate from the USA where they are known as the Scarlet & Green Leafhopper. They were first recorded in the UK in 1935 and currently this species is confined to the southern half of Britain but is spreading north. Eggs are laid late summer in the flower buds which then hatch the following spring.

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One of several Rhododendron Leafhoppers found in a garden in Hastings, 21st July 2020.








2.5mm Moth Fly found in my home in SE London, 10th June 2020
Moth Fly / Drain Fly  (Psychodinae Sp.)

Moth Flies are tiny little flies that are attracted to damp places outdoors such as rotting leaf litter and compost heaps. In houses they are found around showers, baths and sinks where their larvae feed on the algae, fungi and bacteria-infested rotting sludge and debris that builds up in our drainage systems and sewer pipes. Moth Flies play an important role in cleaning up our waste. There are around 100 species of Moth fly in the UK and they range in size from 1.5mm to 4mm. Their wings are covered in tiny scales and hairs giving them the appearance of a small moth. Some species even look furry! When swatted they can appear to explode in a cloud of dust! They are actually a species on non-biting gnat and are completely harmless to humans. 

Moth Flies have many common names including: Drain Fly, Owl Fly, Owl Midge and Sewer Fly. The adults of some species of Moth Fly do not feed at all , whilst adult Moth Flies of other species feed on polluted water and flower nectar. Moth Flies are weak fliers and outdoors they usually only fly a few feet at a time.

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14mm male Red Longhorn Beetle found on Surrey heathland, 24th July 2020

Red Longhorn Beetle  (Stictoleptura rubra / formerly Corymbia rubra, Leptura rubra)

A fairly uncommon species of beetle found mainly in the south of Britain. Females are reddish brown in colour with a black head,  whilst the males have pale yellow / orange elytra (wing cases) and a black head and thorax . Males are also slightly smaller and slimmer than the females. Adults grow to around 10-20mm in length. The larvae of the Red Longhorn Beetle develop in dead wood, often pine and firs, whilst the adults feed on pollen and nectar.

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28mm Caddisfly, caught in a moth-trap in my SE London garden, 29th July 2020

Caddisfly  (Trichoptera)
In the UK there are around 200 different species of Caddisflies, also known as Sedge Flies, ranging from a few mm in length up to over 30mm in length. Many can be very difficult to identify down to species level. Caddisflies are closely related to moths but whilst the wings of a moth are covered in tiny scales the wings of a Caddisfly are covered in tiny hairs. Caddisfly wings lay flat along the back of the Caddisfly at rest just as you would see with a Damselfly. Adults can often be found on vegetation near ponds and other freshwater habitats during the day and are easily caught in moth-traps at night. Adult Caddisfly have been known to fly over 5km to find new breeding ponds. Whilst some species lay their eggs beneath the water's surface others will attach their eggs to pondside vegetation.

The larvae are aquatic and most species dwell in self-constructed cases made from a combination of stones, soil, leaves and fragments of vegetation and bound together with silk secreted from glands near the mouth of the Caddisfly larvae. Some of these cases are transportable and are carried around like a snail's shell. Others have cases that are fixed to the sides or bottom of the pond or to pond vegetation. A few species of Caddisfly larvae are free-swimming and only construct their cases when ready to pupate. Larvae feed on algae and pond weed and are preyed upon by many other pond dwellers including fish, larger larvae such as dragonflies, water-boatmen and newts. 

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Common Wasp, caught in a moth-trap in my SE London garden, 31st July 2020

Common Wasp  (Vespula vulgaris)
In the UK there are two different genus of "Yellow-Jackets". Vespula contains three species of wasp found in the UK, and Dolichovespula, which contains a further three species of wasp found in the UK. The most common social wasps in the UK are Vespula vulgaris, the Common Wasp, and Vespula germanica, the German Wasp. Both species are closely related and very similar in appearance. They can be distinguished by close examination of their face and abdominal markings.

The Common Wasp comes in three forms, queens (reproductive females), workers (non-reproductive females), and males. Queens emerge around April and hastily set about gathering wood pulp, which they use to start building their papery nest. The queen will initially lay a small number of eggs which hatch to bring forth the first of the workers. The workers will eventually take over the role of nest building and the queen will confine herself to the nest and from then onwards concentrate solely on reproducing and establishing the colony. In the autumn the queen begins to lay eggs that develop into males and new queens. Once developed these males and new queens will leave the nest and head off looking for other males and queens to mate with. Once mating has occurred the males will die, along with all the old colony including the workers and the old queen. Only the new queens will survive and will hibernate until emerging the following spring to start the cycle once again. Occasionally the old colony can survive through mild winters but they will still die in the spring leaving the new queens to carry on their genes. 

Common Wasp queens grow up to around 20mm in length, with the workers and males being slightly smaller at around 13-17mm. A queens emits a pheromone that signals her dominance to the rest of the colony and all the time she is giving off these silent signals the colony maintains order and functions well as a unit. If the queen gets sick or dies then order within the colony quickly breaks down and the wasps resort to cannibalism and begin to disperse in a state of confusion. 

The nests can on occasion be very large with a diameter of up to 120cm! These larger nests can rear 10,000 workers, 1000 males and 1000 queens. The diet of the Common Wasp consists of a mixture of wood, for nest building, insect prey, which is chopped up and fed to the larvae within the nest, and sugars and carbohydrates from fruit and nectar which provide the energy needed to sustain the wasp itself. The workers' primary roles are to maintain the nest and gather food for the wasp larvae. In return the larvae excrete a sugary substance which the adult wasps feed on for energy. Once autumn arrives the queen stops producing larvae and the workers become redundant and lose their sense of purpose. It is at this time that they are most likely to sting for no obvious reason. With insect prey no longer needed to feed the larvae, and the larvae no longer present to provide carbohydrates for the adult wasps, the workers soon turn their attention to other sources of sugary foods and it is now that they are far more likely to harass humans enjoying their picnics.

Although wasps have a bad reputation and are one of Britain's most hated insects, they are important and efficient pollinators. They also provide a valuable pest-control service feeding on many other garden pests.



2mm Conifer Aphid, found at the end of my SE London garden, 10th May 2020

Conifer Aphid  (Cinara species)
In the UK there are at least 600 different species of aphid. Many are extremely difficult to identify down to species level. A few species of aphid can be found on a variaety of hose plants but most aphids are quite specific and are confined to one or two host plant species. 
There are around 55 Conifer Aphid species, Cinara sp, in Europe and these species range in size from just under 2mm to 6mm. The larger species can sometimes be mistaken for ticks at 6mm in length. Conifer Aphids can be found feeding on the roots, branches or foliage of conifer trees. The males of some species are winged whilst others are wingless. Conifer Aphids can be accidentally introduced into homes during December hidden on Christmas Trees. These aphids cannot survive long off the tree so although they may initially seem to spread they cannot breed in the home and once the tree is removed the aphids around your home will die off shortly after. They're also incapable of biting humans so they are nothing to fear and do not need to be controlled. In fact the only harm these Conifer Aphids can cause indoors is when they are squashed as this can stain carpets or walls.

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13mm Click Beetle (possibly Athous haemorrhoidalis). One of many found on foliage in ancient woodland in North Kent, 14th May 2020

Click Beetle  (Elateridae)
In the UK there are 41 genus of Click Beetles containing 73 different species and range in size from 3-30mm in length. Many of these are generally very difficult to identify in the field. All species of Click Beetle have the ability to launch themselves into the air with a loud and clearly audible "click" sound. They can some times reach in excess of 30cm with this action which serves to evade predators or to self-right if they find themselves upside down. The larvae of around 50% of Click Beetles develop underground and feed on roots of plants. They may take 3-5 years to develop and are considered as pests by both gardeners and farmers. Whilst feeding on the roots of plants they can cause extensive damage to plants, flowers and crops. The larvae of the genus Athous, Melanotus, Agriotes and Adrastus are the most damaging to plants and are known as fire-worms. The larvae of the other 50% of species of Click Beetle live in rotting wood and behind loose tree bark and are predatory, feeding on small invertebrates that share their habitat.

Athous haemorrhoidalis grows to around 15mm in length and is one of the most common species and is often found in hedgerows and meadows. They are active both day and night and will readily fly to travel from plant to plant where they can be observed basking on leaves. Adults can usually be found from April to the end of July.

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All Photographs on this page were taken using the Canon 7D camera and the Canon 100mm 2.8IS lens.








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