Continued on:    PAGE 2       PAGE3      PAGE4

European / Western Honey Bee  (Apis mellifera)

The workers gather the nectar for the production of honey. On average, a 450g jar of honey requires 1152 bees to travel 180,246km and visit 4-5 million flowers. That's 156km per bee!

The Honeybee is the only species of bee that dies after stinging. Its sting gets trapped in its victim and is ripped out of the bee as it attempts to flee. The Honeybee's sting is attached to other internal organs and the removal of the sting causes the Honeybee severe internal damage. However the queens do not have barbed stings and are therefore able to sting repeatedly if necessary.

Bumblebee   (Bombus sp.)
There are around 19 different species of Bumblebee and 6 species of Cuckoo Bumblebee found in the UK. They are generally black with varying degrees of orange, yellow or white coloured bands. These are social bees and live in nests underground usually consisting of around 200 specimens. The queens hibernate underground and emerge in spring. They quickly set about finding a suitable nesting site such as an abandoned mouse hole. The queen initially lays around a dozen eggs which hatch to provide her with a colony of workers. The workers gather pollen and nectar which is stored and used to feed the next batch of young. At the end of the season new queens and males will emerge and mate. The rest of the colony will die off over winter but the new queens will hibernate and emerge the following spring to start the cycle again.

Bumblebees are not aggressive. Only the females are capable of stinging but will only do so if threatened. The rumour that Bumblebees die after stinging is not true. This is only true of Honeybees. Bumblebees can sting repeatedly if necessary but very rarely do. 

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3    LINK4

Common Carder Bee (Bombus pascuorum) photographed in my garden in SE London 27th August 2017

Common Carder Bee / Brown-Banded Carder Bee  (Bombus pascuorum)
The Common Carder Bee is one three species of all ginger Bumblebee and is the only one of those three that is common and widespread across the UK and can be found in a variety of habitats where suitable nectar and pollen are available. Common Carder Bees make nests above the ground in tall grassland, under hedges and in piles of leaf-litter. As with other species of Carder Bee the nests are covered in moss and dry grass that have been gathered together. The nests are small and usually only have 60-150 workers which can still be found as late as September or even October.

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3

Brassy Mining Bee / Common Green Furrow Bee   (Lasioglossum morio)
Lasioglossum sp are types of Halictidae, Sweat Bees.  The Brassy Mining Bee is metallic green in appearance and is one of three or four species of metallic green / brown Lasioglossum that can only be separated by close examination with a microscope. Females leave their burrows from late March and are seen until the end of October, males from the end of June to late October.

Female Chocolate Mining Bee / Hawthorn Bee  (Andrena scotica)

Chocolate Mining Bee / Hawthorn Bee  (Andrena scotica)

A large and common species of solitary bee found right across the UK. Females have a brown abdomen and can be similar in appearance to the Honey Bee. They grow to a length of 10-14mm. Males are slimmer with a predominantly black abdomen.

These bees are spring-emerging and are regularly found flying from March until the end of June, but have on occasion been seen as late as October. As winter approaches the Chocolate Mining Bees hibernate in adult form in their burrows. These bees often share a communal entrance to a series of individual chambers or burrows. Mating occurs early and some females can be fertilised before they've even left their burrows in the spring.

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3

Male Stag Beetle (Lucanus cervus), in my SE London garden.

Stag Beetle (Lucanus cervus)

The Stag Beetle is largest terrestrial beetle in the UK but sadly their numbers are in decline. Their status is classified as 'Nationally Scarce". Males can be found up to an impressive size of 75mm and very occasionally even 90mm, although 45-60mm is more usual. These beetles are instantly recognisable due to their size. They are uniformly black in colour with chestnut coloured wing-cases. Females can sometimes have maroon coloured wing-cases. The only species that the females are sometimes confused with is the much smaller Lesser Stag Beetle (Dorcus parallelipipedus) which grows to a maximum length of around 30mm. The larvae of the Stag Beetle is a creamy-white colour with a light brown head and also grows to an impressive length of up to 80mm.

Stag Beetles spend most of their lives living underground as a larvae. This can be for as long as six years feeding primarily from rotting wood from decaying trees and bushes. Stag Beetles usually emerge as an adult beetle around June. Their lives as an adult beetle are short and most live for just six weeks or less. From the moment they emerge their sole purpose is to find a partner to mate with. 

Like many of our wildlife species the Stag Beetle is thought to be in rapid decline and is now a protected species. It is commonly believed that the main reason for this decline comes from loss of habitat. This is largely due to over managing sites and the 'tidying-up' of dead wood and rotting trees that provide food and home for these magnificent creatures during the larva stage. Another possible reason for their decline is a recent increase in the umber of Magpies and Crows, which both prey on adult Stag Beetles. Domestic cats are also responsible for a huge number of Stag Beetle fatalities.

Male Stag Beetle (Lucanus cervus)

It has often been thought that Stag Beetles eat very little or do not feed at all once in the adult beetle form. In studies Stag Beetles have been observed eating over-ripe fruit, nectar and tree sap that can be drunk rather than eaten. Research has shown that Stag Beetles are attracted to ginger. It has also been observed in the wild that Stag Beetles may on rare occasion feed on snails. One has been filmed lifting up a snail and repeatedly smashing it against the ground. The Stag Beetle was then observed to drink up or eat the liquids that ran from the broken snail shell.

Male Stag Beetle (Lucanus cervus) at dusk.

Stag beetles usually hide themselves away during the daytime and are usually only seen flying at dusk once the sun has set. The best time to see them in flight is on warm, humid evenings during late May - July from 9pm - 10:30pm. They are clumsy fliers and are usually only seen flying if the conditions are right. Their distinctive silhouette, slow and clumsy flight, and large size makes them easily distinguishable from anything else. It is believed that male Stag Beetles will fly up to 500m looking for a mate. Females tend to fly close to their egg-laying site in the hope of attracting the males attention, and don't often fly more than 20m from that site. Females also release pheromones to attract the males. When Stag Beetles pair up they remain embraced together through the night and well into the next day. Mating can last for up to 24hrs. The male will often guard the female until after she has deposited her eggs in rotting wood.

Male Stag Beetle, found in SE London 15th June 2021

How can you help Stag Beetles? Because Stag Beetle larvae feed entirely on rotting wood, the best way to help them is to provide a log pyramid in your garden with the bottom of the logs buried 50cm beneath the soil. The PTES has provided information and tips on this page:  Helping Stag Beetles

Or you can download their excellent help-sheet here:   Helping Stag Beetles pdf.

Male Stag Beetle (Lucanus cervus)

There are many old myths and folk-stories that surround Stag Beetles. Stag Beetles have also been known as billywitches, oak-ox, thunder-beetles and horse-pinchers.

Because Stag Beetles are often seen in warm, humid, and stormy conditions, in British folklore Stag Beetles were feared as it was believed that they had the power to summon thunder and lightning storms. It was also once believed that Stag Beetles flew around with hot coals in their jaws setting fire to buildings!

In Germany the Stag Beetle was associated with Thor, the 'god of thunder' and there was a myth that if you placed a stag beetle on your head, it could protect you from being struck by lightening !

The female Stag Beetle is similar size in size to the male but lacks the large mandibles. They also have a smaller, slimmer head.


Due to the increasing rarity of Stag Beetles in the UK, the PTES are asking for all Stag Beetle sightings to be recorded using one of these links   LINK   LINK2

It is also believed that Stag Beetles don't seem to be reaching the same size that they once grew to. 

When submitting your sightings it would be helpful to measure your Stag Beetle's total body-length and submit that with your records.

Female Stag Beetle (Lucanus cervus)


Male Stag Beetles (Lucanus cervus), found 15th June 2021, SE London.

Male Stag Beetles often wrestle to compete for mating rights with female Stag Beetles. They have incredible grip with the ends of their legs being equiped with miniature grappling hooks. It is usually the larger specimen that successfully throws its opponent off the log using its large mandibles. 

Male Stag Beetles (Lucanus cervus), found 15th June 2021, SE London.

Why do Stag Beetles vary so much in size?  It's usually down to availability and quality of food available. The larvae feed on decaying wood beneath the soil for between 2 - 6 years. The longer they spend feeding and the better the quality of food available, the bigger they grow. However if the food source runs out, decays too far or is of poor quality, from treated wood etc, then the Stag Beetle may be forced to pupate and emerge early. I have seen some incredibly small and preserved specimens of adult Stag Beetle, definitely Lucanus cervus, of around just 20mm in length. Size may also be partially due to genetics which is why males wrestle for mating rights. The bigger, stronger male usually gets the girl. Sometimes there may be no big, tough males around and the female has to settle for the little guy instead.

Male Stag Beetle (Lucanus cervus), found 15th June 2021, SE London.

Female Stag Beetle (Lucanus cervus)



Female Lesser Stag Beetle (Dorcus parallelipipedus), found within a large fallen and rotting tree in SE London woodland, 16th July 2021

Lesser Stag Beetle  (Dorcus parallelipipedus)

The Lesser Stag Beetle looks quite similar to a female Stag Beetle at first glance although they are considerably smaller in size reaching a maximum length of around 32mm with 25mm being the usual. Occasionally specimens have been known to reach 40mm. Lesser Stag Beetles are also flatter and can usually be distinguished by their matt black elytra when compared to the satin chestnut-brown coloured elytra of the larger Stag Beetle. Occasionally Lesser Stag Beetles can also be found in a chestnut brown colour, especially with newly emerged beetles. The red colour usually fades to black within 1-4 weeks of the beetle emerging. Another way that the two species can be separated is by looking at the number of spikes on the middle of the 3 legs on the tibia – Stag Beetles have 3 spikes but the Lesser Stag Beetle has just 1 spike. The legs are also longer and more spindly-looking on the Stag Beetle.

Both species are found in similar environments of woodland and gardens with large trees and both species also feed off decaying wood and plant matter in larvae form. However, Lesser Stag Beetles usually feed on rotting wood above ground level, whereas the Stag Beetle larvae feeds on rotting wood below ground level. Adult Lesser Stag Beetles feed mainly on sap but can sometimes be found together with the larvae in rotting wood.

The female (pictured above) and male Lesser Stag Beetles are also similar in appearance. The male does have slightly larger mandibles which are set further apart than the female's and a large tooth on the upper surface of the mandibles. The male also has a broader head.

Identifying Stag Beetle and Chafer larvae

Male Lesser Stag Beetle (Dorcus parallelipipedus) found under a rotting log in SE London 9th September 2021

Unusual chestnut-brown coloured 19mm female Lesser Stag Beetle (Dorcus parallelipipedus), found under a rotting log at Pevensey Levels, 18th September 2021.

It's highly likely that this reddish-brown coloured Lesser Stag Beetle is teneral, meaning it has only recently emerged from pupation, and the red colouration usually fades to black within a week, but sometimes takes up to four weeks.

Female Lesser Stag Beetle (Dorcus parallelipipedus)

The Lesser Stag Beetle develops quicker and is ready to emerge as an adult beetle after around 1-3 years. Adult beetles then usually live for a further 1-2 years, and sometimes several years, unlike the larger Stag Beetle which only lives for just a few weeks as an adult beetle.

Male Lesser Stag Beetle (Dorcus parallelipipedus)
One of two male specimens found together under a log in Richmond Park, London, 19th October 2020.

Male Lesser Stag Beetle (Dorcus parallelipipedus)
One of several specimens found together under a log in Bexley, SE London, 11th June 2021.

Male Lesser Stag Beetle (Dorcus parallelipipedus)
One of several specimens found together under a log in Bexley, SE London, 11th June 2021.


In Great Britain and Ireland there are about 20 species of damselfly commonly found.


Large Red Damselfly    (Pyrrhosoma nymphula)
The Large Red Damselfly is the larger of our two red species. The smaller of the two being the Small Red Damselfly obviously. Apart from the size the other obvious distinguishing features are the reddish / orange legs and wing-spots (pterostigma) of the Small Red Damselfly as opposed to the black legs and wing-spots of the Large Red Damselfly. 
The Large Red Damselfly has a body-length of 33-36mm and is common and widespread across the UK and can be found at most types of wetland habitat, with the exception of fast-flowing water. This species is usually one of the first damselflies of the year to appear and can often be seen from mid-April until the end of August. Females can sometimes be almost entirely black in colour. The Large Red Damselfly can sometimes be found quite some distance from its breeding site and is often seen in grassland and woodland.
The Small Red Damselfly is a far rarer species and is generally confined to the heathlands of South England and West Wales.

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3    LINK 4

Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) photographed in my garden in SE London, 11th June 2020.

A mating pair of Common Blue Damselflies (Enallagma cyathigerum). Photographed at a wild pond in SE London, 13th May 2020.
Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum)

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3

 The Garden Snail 

The Garden snail is found all over the UK. They have a taste for green plants and are considered as garden pests by most gardeners. Garden snails are hermaphrodites which means that they are equipped with both male and female reproductive organs. Although they are cable of mating with themselves they usually mate with a partner. In periods of very little or no rain the snail can seal the entrance of their shell with a crusty mucus and go into a state of suspended animation until the rain returns. This state can be maintained for several months if necessary.

Identifying Land Snails in the UK

Garden Snail


Garden Snail photographed "in-situ" in my SE London garden, 18th August 2021.

17 & 18mm Pointed Snails (Cochlicella acuta), found at Corfe Castle, Dorset, 20th July 2021

Pointed Snail  /  Pointed helicelid  /  Conical Snail - (Cochlicella acuta)
The Pointed Snails consists of three species in the Cochlicella genus in the UK. Cochlicella acuta are the largest, growing to a typical shell length of 10-20mm. They are more commonly encountered at coastal grassland sites, dunes, sandy & limestone habitats, particularly in the south and west of the UK. The overall appearance is highly variable but the shells are generally pale and sometimes have brown markings and a brown ring at the base. C. conoidea and C. ventricosa are also similar and native to the UK but are both smaller. C. barbara is a similar but introduced species at a few sites in the SW of England but has a stouter shell. 

The specimens in the image above were just a couple of the many specimens found at Corfe Castle in Dorset, attached to everything from grass, rocks and fenceposts. During the dry summer months these snails aestivate, and enter into a period of inactivity and low metabolic function, whilst waiting for the wet conditions in which to move, feed and breed again.

Leopard Slug in my SE London garden, 9th September 2021

Leopard Slug  /  Great Grey Slug    (Limax maximus)
There are around 30-40 species of slug in the UK and the native Leopard Slug is one of Britain's largest, regularly growing to around 150mm, and sometimes 200mm. The front section of the slug has a marbled effect whilst on the back of the slug most specimens exhibit a series of black spots, often in lines. These markings can be highly variable with some specimens having no spots or even one to three pale dorsal stripes instead of dark stripes. Whilst most slugs are regarded as garden pests Leopard Slugs are omnivorous and cause minimal damage to plants. They feed mainly on decaying matter. They will feed on carrion where available and they'll also chase down other slugs to feed on at the speed of 6 inches per minute! Whilst this may seem very slow compared with other predators 6 in/min is rapid by slug standards.

Leopard Slugs have an unusual mating process where after circling each other copulation occurs whilst both slugs are suspended in the air from a mucus string. This allows gravity to help the slugs extend their large blue penises from openings in their heads. Slugs are hermaphroditic, meaning they have both sexual organs, so after mating both slugs are able to lay fertilised eggs. These slugs can live for around three years.

Some sources claim there are an additional five slug species in the UK, from the Testacella and Selenochlamys genus, that are mainly predatory, adapted to feeding on earthworms but also eating other slugs too. However I've also seen photos of the Dusky Slug, Arion subfuscus, feeding on earthworms too, so the other two introduced Arion species may also be predatory.

LINK 1    LINK 2     LINK 3    LINK 4    LINK 5


There are around 50 different species of Ladybird here in the UK. The most common is the seven-spot Ladybird. Most species of Ladybird are carnivorous and are considered a gardener's friend feeding on aphids, greenfly, small caterpillars, mites and various other garden pests. Some species feed on herbaceous plants and a couple feed on mildew.

Identifying Ladybirds

The Ladybird starts life as part of an egg cluster fixed to a leaf. The black larva hatches just 3-4 days after the eggs are laid. The larva usually turns into an adult Ladybird within 3-4 weeks. A single Ladybird may consume as many as 4000 aphids during its lifespan.


16-Spot 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 that grows to 3.5 - 4.5mm in length and feeds on soft-bodied insects, larvae and insect eggs. This is the most commonly seen yellow / black species of ladybird and can have between 4 and 14 black or yellow spots. These spots are almost rectangular in shape but can vary. Adults are active from May to September in all habitats but are commonly found on broadleaf trees and shrubs. This species overwinters as an adult, often with other species, and emerges later than many other species.

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3

An early emerging 14-Spot Ladybird on a very warm April day in a grass maedow in SE London, 16th April 2017

3mm female 24-Spot Ladybird (Subcoccinella vigintiquattuorpunctata), 8th June 2021, SE London.

24-Spot Ladybird (Subcoccinella vigintiquattuorpunctata)
The 24-Spot Ladybird is the smallest of our Ladybird species in the UK growing to just 3-4mm in length. The entire ladybird is a dull red / orange colour including the legs, pronotum, head and elytra and due to its colour & size this ladybird is unlikely to be confused with any other species. Although widespread in England and Wales this species is less frequently recorded than other species, but that may just be down to its size. This species is entirely vegetarian and feeds on Red Campion and False Oat Grass, although it is regularly found on various grasses and other low vegetation such as thistle, nettle and knapweed. The number of spots can vary from 0 to 24, with 20 being the average number. Many specimens in the UK are wingless and unable to fly.

This 3mm adult female pictured above was one of a mating pair found at the top of long grass in a field in SE London.

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3 

Harlequin Ladybirds   (Harmonia axyridis)

The press even warned us:  "Poisonous ladybirds will bite humans"

7mm Rosemary Beetle found resting on a UPVC door in Erith, SE London, 21st October 2013

Rosemary Beetle  (Chrysolina americana)

The Rosemary beetle is small, but very beautiful beetle, originally from Southern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, that has been recorded in SE England since 1994. It has now spread across much of SE England and is considered to be an invasive garden pest, in both larvae and adult form, that feeds on the foliage and flowers of various aromatic plants including: rosemary, lavender, sage, thyme and some other related plants. The larvae, which can be found throughout winter, are white / grey with five dorsal stripes that run the length of the body, and grow to a length of 5-8mm. Adults grow to 6-8mm and are beautiful metallic green with several purple / orange stripes that run the length of its body, and can be found throughout spring, summer and autumn.

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3

6mm Rosemary Beetle found resting on my Porsche in SE London, 11th October 2020

Eggs are laid on the leaves of the host plant in late summer / autumn and the larvae develop from January or February. There are four stages / instars that occur within a matter of just a few weeks before the larvae enter loose soil and pupate. Adult Beetles emerge around May / June and join other adult Beetles that overwintered. 

The RHS is asking for sightings of the Rosemary Beetle to be reported following this link:  RHS Recording

6mm Rosemary Beetle on Lavender, 12th October 2020

This Rosemary Beetle was found resting on the roof of my car and was relocated to the lavender bush in my garden where it remained for several days giving me plenty of opportunities take capture these images. Finding this specimen on the roof of my car makes one ask the question, can Rosemary Beetles fly?

Rosemary Beetles have very short wings so they are generally unable to fly. Even scientific papers can’t agree on the answer to this question: 
“The views on the flight capability of the Rosemary beetle are conflicting. MacLeod (2002) mentioned that C. americana is flightless and spreads slowly. On the other hand, Beenen and Roques (2010) reported that this species has good flight capacity and can disperse naturally over long distances.’

However, I have my own theory on this. With various other species of flightless insects, there is an occasional occurrence where the odd specimens will develop longer wings, especially in colonies that have grown beyond the capacity of their site, which enables them to leave the area and start new colonies elsewhere. This also prevents the gene pool from becoming weak as a result of constant inbreeding. I believe it’s highly likely that the same thing could happen with Rosemary Beetles and that this species is polymorphic, with some specimens developing wings and flight muscles cable of allowing this beetle to fly.

The results of a study published in February 2021 by Michael Hadjiconstantis and Christos Zoumides, in the Biodiversity Data Journal, details an experiment where captured specimens of Rosemary Beetle were encouraged to fly whilst in captivity. Unfortunately the tests were unable to confirm that these beetles can indeed fly.  LINK

6mm Rosemary Beetle on Lavender, 12th October 2020

6mm Rosemary Beetle on Lavender, 13th October 2020

6mm Rosemary Beetle on Lavender, 13th October 2020

6mm Rosemary Beetle on Lavender, 14th October 2020

Black Weevil  (Liparus coronatus)

Weevils are a large group of small beetles from the Curculionoidea family, which has around 50,000 species worldwide and around 530 species in Britain and Ireland. Weevils can be very plant specific and some will only feed on one type of plant. Other species will feed on a variety of plants. In some countries many Weevils are considered as pests and have to be exterminated. Some of these nuisance species feed on grain, or rice, both in the field and in storage by farmers.

Liparus coronatus usually feeds on Cow parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris) and other umbellifers, in open grassland. Larvae feed on the roots, while adults usually occur at the base of plants. This is a large species and grows to a length of 10-12.5mm. In the UK Liparus coronatus is generally confined to the south and southeast of England. This species has few or no tufts of hair-scales on the wing-cases. The pronotum has only pin-prick punctures. The similar Liparus germanus has many patches on wing-cases and the pronotum has two different sizes of punctures.

 Weevil guides

Vine Weevil  (Otiorhynchus sulcatus)
Vine Weevils are a pest to gardeners. The adult beetles feed on the leaves of plants whilst the grubs feed on the root system slowly destroying and killing the plants. This particularly affects plants grown in pots and containers. Treatment of the soil with microscopic pathogenic nematodes (Steinernema kraussei) is a safe and effective way to control Vine Weevils and protect plants in the ground and in pots. The Vine Weevil is a fairly large species and reaches a body-length of around 10mm.

LINK 1     LINK 2

Otiorhynchus indefinitus found in my SE London garden, 1st May 2020, on a privet bush.

Broad-nosed Weevil  -  (Otiorhynchus indefinitus Reitter)   (Previously known as Otiorhynchus setosulus and Otiorhynchus dieckmanni)

The term "Broad Nosed Weevil" is not species specific, and refers to the 117 weevils, with wide rostrums, that are found in the UK. Otiorhynchus indefinitus is a rare and non-native species of weevil to the UK. As of 2022 there have only been a few records of this species in the UK and these have come from the London area. Otiorhynchus indefinitus grows to around 6-7.5mm in length and can be found feeding on a variety of low shrubs, often on ornamental plantings.

Otiorhynchus indefinitus has some distinguishing features to separate it from other Otiorhynchus species. The wing-cases have long erect hair-scales. The front femurs have no tooth. The wing-cases are smooth between rows of large pits. The pronotum is smooth between large pits. The pronotum is uniquely pear-shaped and widest well behind the middle. The colour, shape and general hairiness are quick features to notice with this species.

Otiorhynchus indefinitus and Otiorhynchus cribricollis are the only two Otiorhynchus with large pits between a smooth surface on their pronotum (Other Otiorhynchus species have fine pits or a granulated surface). Otiorhynchus cribricollis has a different pronotum shape, and the hair-scales are not erect. Both Otiorhynchus ligneus and Otiorhynchus rugosostriatus have a different pronotum shape and also have a granulated pronotum.

Otiorhynchus indefinitus found late at night in my SE London garden, 6th July 2021, on a Forsythia plant.

Green Nettle Weevil   (Phyllobius pomaceus)
These small weevils grow to around 9-10mm and can sometimes be found in abundance on nettles which they feed upon. They are covered in tiny oval-shaped scales. These scales are blue / green in appearance but are easily rubbed off and under the scales the body-shell of the weevil is black. This means that this species can vary quite considerably in appearance from bright green to mostly black with a few small turquoise patches depending on the age of the weevil. Some can even have a coppery / purple tinge to the green scales. The larvae spend are found beneath the soil feeding on nettle roots.

LINK 1      LINK 2

Green Nettle Weevil   (Phyllobius pomaceus)

Male Hornet Robberfly  (Asilus crabroniformis)

Hornet Robberfly  (Asilus crabroniformis)

These ugly-looking beasts are Britain's largest true fly at over an inch in length and are now very rare in the UK. Despite their scary appearance that resembles a hornet, they are completely harmless to humans. Their Latin name actually means "hornet-form". The Hornet Robberfly sits perched on vegetation waiting to spot movement from above or below. They will readily feed on beetles and grasshoppers that catch their eye below, as well as launching themselves into the air to catch flying wasps, flies, and other flying insects. They quickly grab hold of their prey with their long powerful legs and proceed to stab the soft body parts of their prey with their piercing mouth-parts. The Hornet Robberfly quickly lands and uses its piercing mouth-parts to inject saliva containing both nerve toxins that paralyse the victim and enzymes that start to dissolve the victim's insides so they can be drunk. The Hornet Robberfly is also cannibalistic and will feed on its own if necessary.

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3

Male Hornet Robberfly (Asilus crabroniformis) perched on horse manure.

The female Hornet Robberfly lays her eggs in manure from horses, cattle or rabbits. The larvae which takes up to three years to mature and transform into flies, are believed to feed on Dung Beetle grubs found living in the ground beneath dung piles. The specimen above was photographed on a wetland site in Kent, which is one of just 40 known breeding sites in the UK for this species. It had a body-length of 32mm, and had a total length including front legs of 38mm. 
My discovery of this rare species in Kent was promoted by Bexley Wildlife on their webpage:  Britain's "Largest" fly, the Hornet Robber - Found at Thames Rd Wetland

Mating Hornet Robberflies (Asilus crabroniformis)


Female Hornet Robberfly (Asilus crabroniformis) with Grasshopper prey.

Although the Hornet Robberfly is powerful in short bursts of flight it cannot fly for long distances. This means that as a species they are unable to spread without the necessary wildlife corridors and the known breeding sites have become isolated. 

Female Hornet Robberfly  (Asilus crabroniformis)

Female Hornet Robberfly  (Asilus crabroniformis)

One major threat to Hornet Robberflies is the use of insecticides. In particular Avermectins, which are used for worming cattle, also unfortunately kill off the dung beetles the Robberfly larvae prey on. 

European Hornet    (Vespa crabro)
The European Hornet is the largest eusocial wasp found in Europe and North American. Adult females grow up to 35mm in length, but males are more likely to be around 23mm. 
The sting from the Hornet is not regarded as any more dangerous than the sting of the Honeybee, but the Hornet's venom contains acetylcholine which causes humans to feel far more pain than the sting or either a wasp or a bee. Despite their bad reputation, European Hornets are not an aggressive species and they usually only sting if they feel threatened or if their nest is disturbed. Hornets are usually reluctant to sting humans and will often bite as a warning before stinging.

Read the fascinating Hornet Life-cycle here:     Hornet Life-cycle

16mm Rove Beetle found under a flowerpot in my garden in SE London / North Kent.
Rove Beetle   -  (family Staphylinidae)
There are around 4000 species of beetle in the UK and the Rove Beetle family, Staphylinidae,  accounts for 1000 of those beetles. Often referred to as "Staphs" for short, Rove Beetles get their name because it is common for them to be constantly on the move. Rove Beetles have small wing cases and long slender bodies. They are fast moving and agile hunters, ranging in size from 1mm - 30mm depending on the species. Although predatory some species will feed on carrion and decaying vegetation.

28mm Devil's Coach Horse Beetle found under a rock in my garden in SE London / North Kent.
Devil's Coach Horse Beetle   -  (Ocypus olens)
The Devil's Coach Horse Beetle is the largest and most formidable predator of the Rove Beetle family found in the UK, and usually grow to a length of 28mm and occasionally 32mm. These nocturnal, carnivorous beetles are usually found in woodlands, hedgerows and gardens amongst leaf litter or under logs where they hide away during the daytime. At night they actively hunt down their prey and feed on a variety of slugs and other insects that they come across. Prey is seized by their powerful jaws and subdued by the beetle's strength and aggression. When disturbed the Devil's Coach Horse Beetle raises its tail in a defensive stance similar to that of a scorpion. However the Devil's Coach Horse Beetle has no sting in its tail. This stance isn't a bluff though as these beetles do have powerful jaws and can give a painful bite if handled.

Adults can be found from April to October. Adults sometimes overwinter buried beneath the soil if the weather isn't too severe. The scientific name Ocypus olens (olens means smell) is given due to the foul-smelling liquid secreted from the rear and the mouth of the Devil's Coach Horse Beetle if it feels threatened. These beetles have small wings hidden away under their wing cases but they rarely fly.

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3

26mm Devil's Coach Horse Beetle found under a board on a grassland site in Gravesend, North Kent, 25th June 2021.

18mm Ground Beetle (Pterostichus cf melanarius) found under a rock in my garden in SE London / North Kent.
Common Black Ground Beetle   -  (Pterostichus melanarius)
A uniformly black Ground Beetle commonly found in gardens, parks and grassland and often in flooded meadows. Only the ends of the legs and antennae showing some brown colouration. Usually growing from 13-18mm in length. Hibernation usually occurs in larval form. Very similar in appearance to Pterostichus niger and Pterostichus nigrita.

Ground Beetle

Earwig (Forficula auricularia)
The Earwig is a small ground-dwelling insect that grows to a length of around 11-16mm. Earwigs have distinctive cerci (pincers) at the rear of their abdomen which they may use to defend themselves. Adult males have very curved cerci whilst the female has only slightly curved cerci. Earwigs are mainly nocturnal, omnivorous predators that also eat carrion and other small insects. Earwigs possess fully functional wings folded away beneath their wing-cases but they rarely fly. The Common Earwig is usually found hiding under items such as logs and flowerpots in gardens. The UK has four native species of Earwig and three introduced species, but the Common Earwig is by far the most commonly encountered. Forficula auricularia has visible hindwings protruding from hind edge of elytra, but the similar and rarer Forficula lesneiForficula Apterygida earwigs don't & are slightly smaller in size.

Earwigs usually moult five times in the first year before reaching the adult stage. Female earwigs not only safeguard their eggs but they also tend to the young until about the time they reach their second moult. After this stage the adult female loses all maternal instinct and the young are at risk of being eaten by their mother if they do not disperse.

LINK 1    LINK 2    LINK 3

13mm Common Earwig (Forficula auriculariafound at the top of seed grass on chalk grassland at the edge of a stream in north Kent, 22nd July 2021.

Click here for these pages:    MACRO 2    MACRO 3    MACRO 4    MACRO 5



Need help identifying an insect found in the UK?

email the Royal Entomological Society with high quality images for identification requests