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.
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.
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.
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
A large group of around 25 adults and children joined bug expert Dr Keith Porter to hunt for and identify insects in Bourne Wood.
We were blessed with fine weather as we have come to expect in this extraordinary 2018 British summer!
Before setting off, Keith demonstrated the various equipment we were going to use to seek out bugs and beasties. This included two types of nets plus beating trays. The latter is a framed square flat piece of fabric which is held underneath a bush to catch insects dislodged by striking a branch or bush with a stick.
We had a successful afternoon and found a wide range of insects and spiders on the margins of the main ride through the wood.
Ten species of butterflies were seen including several silver-washed fritillaries, which is Britain’s largest resident butterfly and particularly striking with its orange coloration and streaks of silver found on the underside of the wings.
At one stage, two brown hawker dragonflies observed us from above. This species is a large fast-flying dragonfly with distinctive golden-brown wings and which probably breeds in the ponds in the wood.
Other insects we encountered included several types of hoverflies, 7-spot ladybirds, shield and squash bugs and grasshoppers.
A Silver Y moth was captured and Keith explained that this day-flying moth was an annual immigrant from continental Europe. And finally, a very strange looking pale yellow-green spider was found. This turned out to be a crab spider. These spiders don’t spin webs instead relying on camouflage and ambush. They hide in flowers, where they prey on flies and bees. Some species can even change colour to match the flower they are on.
All in all, it was an interesting and enjoyable outing for the participants, and we are very grateful to Keith for sharing his expertise and enthusiasm with us.
The Friends had a successful Easter Trail on Easter Monday. Children followed a bug trail, answering questions related to the beasties placed around one of the rides. This was followed by a dinosaur quiz, which the children knew the answers to – while the parents struggled! Over 60 children participated in the event, accompanied by their parents and grandparents. Everyone seemed to enjoy the good weather, and the test of their observation skills and insect knowledge.
Those attending the talk organised by the Friends of Bourne Wood, on some of the butterflies, bugs and beetles found in woodland, enjoyed a very informative evening.
Dr Keith Porter very cleverly took us on a tour of the different areas of the woodland and described which species may be found there. Starting with the grassy paths and their Speckled Wood butterflies which are known to most of us and, finishing with the life in the tall trees and the Purple Hairstreak butterfly which are difficult to see, as they spend their time around the tops of oak trees!
He described the lifestyle of some of the butterflies and bugs, including the ways they lay their eggs and how they hibernate through the winter, often as tiny caterpillars. In finishing he left us with the challenge of finding species that are known to be in the area, but have not yet been recorded in the wood, suggesting that they could well be found there.
Our thanks go to Keith for his very interesting talk, and for stepping in at short notice.
We had a lovely sunny summer afternoon for our bug hunt. The event started with John Creedy showing us his moth trap from his garden the previous evening, and explaining to the children (and adults) how the trap worked, and the differences between moths and butterflies. He then let the children handle the moths, a huge poplar Hawk moth, an Orange Underwing and a Buff Ermine to name but a few.
From there Jon Webb hand out some nets to those present, butterfly nets to catch flying insects, sweep nets to brush over the vegetation to catch small bugs. The children (and their parents) then had great fun trying to catch butterflies and even more fun putting them in the pots provided!
We then wandered along with people catching bugs and taking them to the various experts to identify. There were numerous Ringlet butterflies, a few large Skippers, a White Admiral, a lovely Longhorn beetle, an Oak Bush cricket nymph (with really long feelers), and a Flea beetle to name just a few that we caught.
The highlight for me was the Silver Washed Fritillary though, caught after a prolonged chase I believe but absolutely stunning and something I had not seen previously in the wood, we all waited patiently until Keith Porter returned to identify it!
Thank you to Keith, John , Jon and Richard for a very entertaining and informative afternoon which I hope can be repeated.