National Insect Week 2020

Collage of insects feeding on purple knapweed flowers.

We couldn’t put on any face to face events this year, so we’ve been highlighting some of the places on the meadow that provide homes for insects.

On Monday it was the grass that we’ve got so much of:

If you brush against the longer grass in the meadow now, you’ll probably find a cloud of brown butterflies flies up and disperses. It is most definitely meadow brown season, and we’ve got so many because their caterpillars eat grass.

Although we often point out the flowers in the meadow, the diversity and quantity of the grass is really important too. All the species in this picture have grasses as larval food plants and you can find them all on the meadow.

Clockwise from top left: meadow brown, marbled white, Essex skipper, large skipper, small skipper and gatekeeper.

Tuesday brought the turn of some of our giants!

OK, they’re not that giant – the lesser stag beetle is larger than the rhinoceros beetle, which is less than 2cm long. Both are around the meadow now and both lay their eggs in dead wood so that their grubs can eat the decomposing wood.

Leaving dead wood, as long as it is safe, is crucial for lots of insects to complete their lifecycles.

On Wednesday we focussed on the habitat of the riverbank to find something much more delicate than the beetles.

The white-legged damselfly likes the vegetation along the river. If you see one of these, the British Dragonfly Society want to know about it – they’re gathering data to find out how well the species is doing.

On Thursday we were looking at things that burrow in the soil:

And on Friday, our final insect week habitat feature was the hedgerow! From the earliest blossom to the blackberries in the autumn, hedges provide food and habitat for insects throughout the year. And we can’t forget the blackthorn that provides egg laying sites for the fabulous brown hairstreak butterfly.

Longrun’s hedges are managed for wildlife, including pollinators. The conservation volunteers welcome new members, and hope to be back up and running by hedgelaying season in November.

That’s the end of our Insect Week habitat roundup, we’ll be out spotting insects this weekend and we hope you will be too.

There’s lots more information and activity ideas on the NIW webpage!