This spring The Wildlife Trusts launched a new practical pack, Your Guide to Taking Action for Insects, encouraging people to do their bit in reversing decades of decline for the UK’s struggling bees, butterflies, moths, bugs and beetles.
A recent report published by the campaign “Insect declines and why they matter” led by Professor David Goulson, concluded that 41% of insect species now faced extinction around the world, while population declines were widespread across other insect species.
In response to this campaign, for our summer wildlife citizen science survey, we are calling for people to share their garden insect sightings of broad-bodied chaser dragonflies, tree bumblebees and hummingbird hawkmoths.
Whether you are lucky enough to have them visit your garden, or you see them on your local patch, you can help us map sightings within our county so we can build a picture of where they are found and identify areas which are especially important for wildlife and identify species in decline or under threat.
The broad-bodied chaser is a common dragonfly that can be seen in summer around ponds and lakes a...
The hummingbird hawk-moth is a species of Sphingidae. Its long proboscis and its hovering behavio...
The tree bumblebee first arrived in the UK in 2001 probably from mainland Europe and it has quick...
Recording wildlife is an easy way to get involved in wildlife conservation. It is a way of helping us to monitor wildlife across the county to gain an understanding of an animal’s distribution. Your sightings can help us identify areas which are especially important for wildlife and identify species in decline or under threat.
Britain’s dragonfly species are being threatened due to habitat destruction and the effects of climate change. Data collected by the British Dragonfly Society show that 36% of UK dragonfly species are in decline. Garden ponds can be a real haven for dragonflies and damselflies: in fact at least 17 species of dragonfly in the UK are known to have bred in garden ponds.
How to spot a broad-bodied chaser:
This dragonfly can be seen flying from April through to the end of September, and is known to visit garden ponds. It is a rather fat dragonfly, hence the name broad-bodied chaser. The males are blue in colour with yellow spots down the side, and the females and immature males are a golden-brown.
According to Butterfly Conservation, many individual species of moth have declined dramatically in recent decades and more than 60 became extinct in the twentieth century.
One species that anecdotally seems to be increasing in Norfolk is the hummingbird hawkmoth. This day-flying moth occurs throughout the year in southern Europe where it is resident, but each year, in varying numbers, it migrates northwards with some being blown across the English Channel and arriving in Britain. It is most commonly seen along the south and south-west of the UK, but more and more sightings in Norfolk are occurring.
Hummingbird hawk-moths like to feed on tubular flowers such as red valerian, viper’s bugloss and jasmine. It can be found in gardens, parks and other habitats where these flowers grow.
How to spot a hummingbird hawkmoth:
The hovering flight of this moth as it feeds on nectar from flowers resembles a hummingbird. In flight, the white-tipped black sides to the abdomen and the orange-brown colouring of the wings are apparent, along with a long proboscis which it uses to feed on nectar. The caterpillar, which feeds on lady’s bedstraw or hedge bedstraw, is green or brown with a broad, dark band along each side and a blue yellow-tipped horn.
According to Professor David Goulson’s report, 23 bee and flower visiting wasp species have become extinct in the UK since 1850. And of course we know how important insects are in helping us with food production with approximately three quarters of the crop types grown by humans requiring pollination by insects.
Our gardens are important for many different bee species and can provide a vital nectar source. One species of bee to be making good use of gardens is the tree bumblebee. It first arrived in the UK in 2001, probably from mainland Europe, and it has quickly colonised. It seems to particularly like gardens and woodlands and will often be seen nesting in bird boxes. This distinctive looking bee can be seen from March until July, being particularly abundant in early summer.
How to spot a tree bumblebee:
Tree bumblebees have distinctive markings that distinguish them from other bumblebees. They have a black head and a thorax that is reddish-brown to tawny. The abdomen is usually black with a white tail; occasionally the gingery thorax colour will spread to the abdomen but there is always a strip of black before the white tail. There can also be dark forms of tree bumblebees but they still have the white tail and are fluffier than similar coloured bumblebees. Unlike other bumblebees, tree bumblebees can have a bald patch in the gingery hair of the thorax.