We All Went on a Bug Hunt

Wednesday, November 1st 2017

We were pleased to welcome Dr Roger Key to Foxglove today to run an invertebrate training course for the volunteers.  His presentation gave us some fascinating facts.  The structure of an Earwig's wing helped to develop solar panels that would not get damaged in space.  Of course for children, the more gruesome the better.  A lacewing larvae covers itself with the dead bodies, cases and droppings of it prey, for protection.  But its method of protection is brilliant!  A bird comes along for a feed and the lacewing larvae rears up and gives the predator a mouthful of the debris.  The question was posed 'Would you like to carry on trying to feed with all of that in your face?'    A solitary wasp collects a caterpillar and puts it in a hole, lays an egg on it and then blocks the hole up.  Another lovely photograph showed us a caterpillar feasting on a spider.   I will leave you to work out what happens next! 

The presentation over, we collected a variety of things to go on a bug hunt.

Getting ready to go on a bug hunt

Not far from the Field Centre Roger demonstrated how you could sweep net through Gorse.  I am not sure if I would risk this with children. 

Sweep netting through Gorse

And once your net is full you flip it over and then, and this is definitely a 'do as you are told and not as I do', stick your head in the net!

Checking the catch

We progressed to the heath.  Where we searched in the undergrowth, looked at the horse droppings (these were a little too fresh and it is now a little too cold for them to be homes for creepy crawlie things)  and carried out sweep netting.  Pooters were used to collect the catch, remembering not to put spiders in with other insects.

Bug hunting on the heath

The ponies' curiosity got the better of them and they had to come and have a look to see what we were doing.

Being watched

After lunch it was time to examine and where possible identify the catch.  A whole new world opens up when you look through a microscope.

Looking at the catch

Although colder than forecast, so not quite as many insects and bugs around, we did find more than enough to be of interest.  A huge thank you to Dr Key for coming and giving us a really enjoyable and informative day.  We hope he will return next summer when there are more invertebrates running, flying and crawling around.

We have, as I write this 19 days, 17 hours and 51 minutes to vote for the Aviva Community Fund 2017.  If you have not already cast your vote please do so to support Foxglove Covert LNR.  Thank you.

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