European / Western Honey Bee (Apis mellifera)
The workers gather the nectar for the production of honey.
Stag Beetle (Lucanus cervus)
The Stag Beetle is largest terrestrial beetle in the UK and 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. 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. When they finally emerge as a beetle they live for just a few weeks in which 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 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.
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. The larvae of the Stag Beetle is a creamy-white colour with a light brown head and grows to a length of up to 80mm.
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.
Stag beetles are usually only seen flying 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.
Male Stag Beetle
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.
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.
REPORT YOUR STAG BEETLE SIGHTINGS
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.
Lesser Stag Beetle (Dorcus parallelopipedus)
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. There also flatter and blacker than the larger Stag Beetle. 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.
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. 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. The male also has a broader head.
The Lesser Stag Beetle lives for over a year unlike the larger Stag Beetle which lives for just a few weeks.
Green-veined White Butterflies
One of Britain's most widespread butterflies with a wingspan of up to 52mm.
Speckled Wood Butterfly
The Speckled Wood Butterfly is an average sized butterfly with a wingspan of up to 50 - 56mm. It is found right across the country and is especially common in woodland. It is often found in more shady areas and on overcast days when most butterflies are not found. The Speckled Wood f
1) Comma Butterfly
2) Peacock Butterfly
3) Ground Beetle - Abax Parallelepipedus
4) Violet Ground Beetle
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.
The Ladybird is a great friend to the gardener. They are carnivorous and feed on greenfly, small catapillars, mites and various other garden pests. There are 42 different species of Ladybird here in the UK. The most common is the seven-spot Ladybird.
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.
The Gatekeeper is found across the southern half of the UK. It is a medium sized butterfly with a wingspan of 37-48mm and can be seen from the end of July until the middle of September.
Common Blue (Polyommatus Icarus)
The Common Blue is found right across the UK with the exception of Ireland. It is a small butterfly with a wingspan of 29-36mm and can be seen from the end of May right up to the end of September.
Rosemary Beetle (Chrysolina americana)
Black Weevil (Liparus coronatus)
Weevils are a large group of small beetles from the Curculionoidea family, which has around 50,000 species! This Weevil above is believed to be the Black Weevil (Liparus coronatus). A weevil often found around cow parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris). Larvae feed on the roots, while adults usually occur at the base of plants. This species is more commonly found in the southern half of Britain. Weevils can be very plant specific and some will only feed on one type of plant. In some countries Weevils are considered a pest and have to be exterminated. Some of these nuisance species feed on grain, or rice, both in the field and in storage by farmers.
Hornet Robberfly (Asilus crabroniformis)
These ugly-looking beasts are Britain's largest true fly at over an inch in length. 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 seen 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 then land with the victim in their grasp and proceed to drink the creatures bodily fluids with their piercing mouth-parts.
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.