Thursday, 18 April 2013

A house, a garden & a village

To most of us, insects are just irritating pests but after Bill Indge’s most enthusiastic and enlightening talk his audience was converted. Compared to mammals and birds, insects are relatively easy to find and study but there are around 23,000 species in the UK, many of which don’t have common names. Using excellent photographs, Bill took us through the seasons, concentrating on insects that can be seen in and around Alfrick.

Pied shieldbug
In winter one is mainly limited to studying insects that reside in buildings such as cluster flies, mosquitos, green lacewings, harlequin ladybirds, daddy long legged spiders and silverfish. As the year progresses and the weather warms insects become much more prolific and it is noticeable that certain insects are attracted to particular plants. Hogweed attracts earwigs, thick-kneed flower beetles, soldier beetles and many spiders including the crab spider while nettles are the favourite of moths, aphids, hoverfly larvae, bush crickets and nettle weevils. It has been shown that some plants benefit from the insect’s presence: the teasel produces a greater mass of seed the more insects that it traps. In autumn, insects cause tree galls, particularly on oak, and the horse chestnut leaf miner causes early leaf degradation in those trees as well as smaller seeds (conkers) with poorer germination potential. At this time of year, shield bugs and crickets become more common.

Dung fly
One tends to think that insects have it all their own way but that is far from the truth. Many are parasitised by the larvae of other insects and many suffer from fungal infections, particularly if they cluster together. Insects also provide the main diet of certain bird and mammal species.

The next meeting is on May 2nd at 7.30 pm at Malvern Evangelical Church. Dr Daniel Allen will talk about otters and we look forward to seeing you there.

Derek, Malvern local group

All photos (c) Bill Indge