Bug Hunt July 2019

Around 40 adults and children joined entomologist Dr Keith Porter for this popular event run by the Friends of Bourne Wood.

The weather was mostly warm but cloudy but nonetheless a wide range of insects and spiders were found by the group using various collecting equipment including nets.

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Some of the 40 adults and children who joined entomologist Dr Keith Porter for this popular event run by the Friends of Bourne Wood.

One of the more exciting observations was that of a purple emperor butterfly flying around the top of an oak tree, although not everyone in the group spotted it! This large colourful butterfly appears to have only colonised Bourne Wood in the last few years and the caterpillars feed on goat willow or sallow. Other butterflies seen included large numbers of ringlet butterflies plus large skipper, gatekeeper, comma, meadow brown, silver-washed fritillary and a few people had a brief glimpse of a white admiral.

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As its name suggests, the Large Skipper is bigger than the similar-looking Small Skipper! It can be seen in summer, resting on the long grass of grasslands, woodlands, verges and sand dunes.

Of other insects, numerous common soldier beetles were in evidence – these orangy-red beetles feed on nectar, pollen and aphids and were particularly numerous on the flowers of hogweed. A range of different species of true bugs were also found, including the woundwort shield bug, the larvae of which feed on hedge woundwort and white dead nettle. The colourful 7-spot and 24 spot ladybird were also discovered.

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The common red soldier beetle is also known as the ‘bloodsucker’ for its striking red appearance, but it is harmless. It is a beneficial garden insect as the adults eat aphids, and the larvae eat other pests.

A number of different species of spiders were collected but Keith explained that he wasn’t an expert and that there are numerous species in Britain (around 650 species) and identification is a very specialist job!

Some very long-legged spider-like creatures with a rounded compact bodies were collected in the nets. Although resembling spiders they were in fact harvestmen – a group distantly related to spiders that feed on insects but unlike spiders, do not spin webs.

Thanks are due to Keith for an interesting and informative afternoon.

Photographs Pauline Knox, Richard Jefferson, and Sarah Roberts

Nature Notes from Bourne Wood – July 2019

The weather forecasters predicted rain so we set off promptly, wondering what treasures the woods would reveal. The first was a fresh Speckled Wood butterfly, basking on a bramble leaf in the hazy sunshine. We thought that it was likely to be a second brood as the earlier specimens are now looking past their best. Another Speckled Wood passed by so our insect rose to meet it, dancing together in the glade. It may have been a female leading to a courting ritual but it was more likely to be a male as there appeared to be a battle of supremacy their flight paths twisting around each other like a Celtic pattern. More erratic than the red arrows but with masterful aerodynamic skills there were no apparent collisions! We are lucky to be able to enjoy the beauty of these butterflies. Other areas report a decline of their numbers but they still appear to be plentiful locally.

Continue reading Nature Notes from Bourne Wood – July 2019

Community Litter Pick 2019

We had quite a large crowd for our litter pick – around six McDonalds employees, and 16 members of the Friends of Bourne Woods or members of the public, plus children and dogs!  The weather was much improved from earlier in the week with plenty of sunshine.  March is a really good month to do a deep clean in the wood as the undergrowth has died back leaving litter which was previously hidden, suddenly visible.

Continue reading Community Litter Pick 2019