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 walk started well, as the leaders, Keith Porter and Richard Jefferson had been on a pre-amble and returned with a Purple Hairstreak – which although found in the wood is not something many of us had seen as they spend their lives right at the top of oak trees – so are difficult to spot!
We set off furnished with butterfly nets and sweep nets, which not only did the children enjoy – but the adults had great fun trying to catch butterflies and even more fun transferring them to the identification pots.
The star of the last years show returned this year – the Silver Washed Fritillary – a beautiful orange and brown butterfly, quite large and displaying perfectly for us to see. Someone then caught a White Letter Hairstreak, which is not particularly common, and the young feed on Elm. In addition we saw Brimstones (this year’s brood), Ringlets, Peacocks, Gatekeepers and Meadow Browns from the butterfly world – and then to top the afternoon off we caught a Brown Argus butterfly – recorded previously in the wood – but not seen before by those attending.
The bugs caught in the sweep nets included Shield Bugs, Lacewings, Soldier Beetles, 14 spot Ladybird, and a Bush Cricket, not to mention the large Spider!
With regard to flowers, we enjoyed the creeping Thistles which were full of butterflies, and this became obvious why when we smelt the flowers – just like honey! The Angelica flowers were full of Hoverflies as they are easy for insects to get nectar from due to their open flowers. We saw Ragwort – which although disliked by many is good for insects and home to the Cinnabar moth. There was also St John’s Wort – used as a medicinal plant, Meadowsweet and Spear Thistle.
Our thanks go Keith and Richard for a lovely afternoon, the weather was exceptionally good, and the walk was very much enjoyed by the 20 or so people attending.
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.