Amazing insects

Summer wildlife

Amazing insects

© Terry Whittaker/2020VISION

A bug's life

Invertebrates make up the majority of animal life on earth, with some 40,000 species in the UK alone!

The miniature world of insects is full of creatures with amazing abilities, all battling to survive on a very big planet.

Damselfly macro

© Rob Ault (robault.co.uk)

Dragons & damsels

There are 17 species of damselfly and 23 species of dragonfly resident in the UK, with the occasional visitor from continental Europe. Found in almost every habitat, these fearsome aerial predators bring a splash of colour just as wildflowers and butterflies are winding down. And for the birdwatchers that hang up their binoculars before the big migration events of autumn, they provide another burst of wildlife watching activity to rival any bird flocks.

Emperor dragonfly

Emperor dragonfly

© Stephen Duffy

The Emperor Dragonfly is an impressively large and colourful dragonfly of ponds, lakes, canals and flooded gravel pits. It flies between June and August and even eats its prey on the wing.

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Broad bodied chaser

Broad bodied chaser

© Dawn Monrose

The Broad-bodied Chaser is a common dragonfly that can be seen in summer around ponds and lakes, and even in gardens. It lives up to its name: its flattened body gives it a fat, broad look.

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Golden ringed dragonfly

A voracious predator that will even eat other dragonflies, the Golden-ringed Dragonfly is the UK's longest species. It can be found around acidic streams in moorland and heathland habitats.

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Golden-ringed dragonfly

© Fergus Gill/2020VISION

Beautiful demoiselle

Beautiful demoiselle

© Guy Edwardes/2020VISION

The Beautiful Demoiselle can be seen flitting around fast-moving rivers. The males are metallic blue and the females green, but both lack the distinctive dark wing bands of the Banded Demoiselle.

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Banded demoiselle

Banded demoiselle

© Mark Hamblin/2020VISION

The Banded Demoiselle can be seen flitting around slow-moving rivers, ponds and lakes. The males are metallic blue, with a distinctive dark band across their wings, and the females are a shiny green.

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Large red damselfly

Large red damselfly

© Richard Burkmar

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Beautiful butterflies

Summer is one of the best times of year to see beautiful butterflies.

Hunt the majestic and elusive purple emperor at Sheepleas, see the delicate Silver-studded blue flitting amongst the heather on many of our heathland sites, or find the rare small blue on on Howell Hill - Surrey's stronghold for the UK's smallest butterfly. If you're lucky, you might even spot the painted lady, a pretty summer migrant from the continent. 

Stag beetle on log

© Terry Whittaker/2020VISION

Fighting stags

Famous for its fearsome jaws, the stag beetle does not have the bite to match

Look for it in woods, parks and gardens during summer. Males display their massive jaws to attract females and duel with their rivals. It prefers oak woodlands, but can be found in gardens, hedgerows and parks. The larvae depend on old trees and rotting wood to live in and feed on, and can take up to six years to develop before they pupate and turn into adults.

Stag beetle comparison

More amazing insects

Heath tiger beetle

© Jon Hawkins - Surrey Hills Photography

Tiger beetles

Ferocious predators and some of our fastest insects, tiger beetles hunt spiders, ants and caterpillars on our heathland. The green tiger beetle with its metallic green carapace is more common, whilst the velvety brown heath tiger beetle is found on just a few sites in the UK, including several in Surrey.

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Raft spider

© Ross Hoddinott/2020VISION

Raft spider

The chocolate-brown Raft spider inhabits bogs and ponds. It can be spotted sitting near the water, its legs touching the surface. When it feels the vibrations of potential prey, it rushes out to catch it, floating like a raft

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Hornet mimic hoverfly

© Marcus Wehrle

Hornet mimic hoverfly

With black-and-yellow markings, the hornet mimic hoverfly is the largest hoverfly species in the UK looks like its namesake, but is harmless to us. This mimicry helps to protect it from predators while it searches for nectar.

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