Tag Archives: insects

Box-tree caterpillars are a garden pest, but their destruction of natural habitats is more worrying

The Telegraph reports if not kept under control, the box-tree moth could disrupt natural ecological balances irrevocably. It now infests most of Europe except a few Nordic regions and high mountainous areas. With climate change it may spread further. 

Photos of box tree moth caterpillar by Frank Van Hevel and box tree moth by David Shrt, both under creative commons.

Specieswatch: violet carpenter bee – an exotic, heavyweight arrival to UK

The Guardian reports if you see a violet carpenter bee, xylocopa violacea, in Britain, it seems too exotic for our shores, and too big. It is up to 3cm long, the size of our largest bumble bee, and it looks even larger when flying with an impressive buzz.

In late August, the adults emerge from a dead tree trunk or other old wood where they have spent the larval stage. After mating in late April or May, female bees bore holes in rotten wood and lay eggs in separate chambers, each one sealed in with a store of pollen so the emerging larvae can have a good start in life.

Climate change has brought this southern European species to our shores.

Violet carpenter bee photo by Charlie Jackson under creative commons.

Here be dragonflies, thriving in Britain as never before

The Observer reports climate change has encouraged a wave of insect migrants from across the Channel. Should we celebrate or fear for the future? As the sun finally emerges from behind a cloud, I catch sight of a pair of dragonflies, yoked together in a mating position to rival the Kama Sutra. Yet this copulating couple, performing in a watery ditch on Canvey Island in Essex, are no ordinary members of their family. They are southern migrant hawkers: a species virtually unknown in the UK until a decade or so ago. 

Photo by Bill Stanworth of golden-ringed dragonfly

Large blue butterfly flutters in Cotswolds for first time in 150 years

The Guardian reports painstaking conservation effort to accommodate insect’s complex lifecycle pays off. The biggest reintroduction to date of the large blue has led to the rare butterfly flying on a Cotswold hillside where it has not been seen for 150 years.

About 750 butterflies emerged on to Rodborough Common in Gloucestershire this summer after 1,100 larvae were released last autumn following five years of innovative grassland management to create optimum habitat. 

Large Blue ovipositing photo by Paul Ritchie under creative commons.

Swarm of flying ants is so big it shows up on weather map

The Metro and The Telegraph report if you already felt like 2020 was bringing echoes of the Biblical ten plagues, then you might want to not click this article. The picture looks like it shows a rain cloud drifting across Kent, London and the South East – but friends, that is no rain cloud. Look closer and you’ll see the little arrow annotating the blue area as ‘flying ants’. There are so many of them that they are messing with the weather radar. 

Brussels failing to protect bees, says watchdog

The GUARDIAN reports EU loopholes allow use of banned pesticides known to be major killers of key species. Bees and other wild pollinators are not being protected from decline by the EU, with loopholes even allowing for the use of banned pesticides known to be major killers of key species. A report from the European court of auditors has found that Brussels’ efforts to prevent the decline of bees, wasps, hoverflies, butterflies, moths, and beetles have been largely ineffective. 

Photo by Jice75 under creative commons.

‘An alarm bell we must not ignore’: Major report calls for huge pesticide reductions to halt collapse in vital insect populations

The Independent reports almost 17,000 tonnes of pesticides are sprayed on UK countryside each year, warns The Wildlife Trusts. Insects are rapidly being annihilated, risking ecosystem collapse with dire repercussions for humanity, according to a report urging major new targets to preserve these vital creatures and the environments which support them.

The Wildlife Trusts’ Reversing the Decline of Insects report lays bare the huge toll human activity is having on insects and their habitats, and calls for action “at every level of society, from local to global”, to address the issue.