What happens to our insects over winter?

Sunday, October 27th 2013

We know as autumn approaches, Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers leave Foxglove and join the yearly migration south.   Amphibians head towards their hibernation sites on the reserve, even those tiny ones who have just left the pond this summer.  This small Common Toad had to be rescued as it was walking across the access road!

Young Toad

But what happens to the insects?  The Peacock butterfiles we see in spring often look a little worse for wear as they have spent the cold winter months in hibernation.  As the temperature rises these butterflies feed and then find suitable places to lay their eggs.  Caterpillars pupate and newly hatched adults can be seen on the wing from July.

Peacock butterfly on Fleabane

Many insects find the Fleabane flowers a good source of food.  However, to date, Speckled Wood has not been one of them.  According to information they enjoy Fleabane.  (A quest for next year?)  They do enjoy the sunny open glades and woodland edeges, where the males defend their territories and mate with females passing through.  This is one of the few insects that can spend the winter either as a caterpillar or a pupa.  Adults can emerge from April.

Speckled Wood butterfly

At this time of year the world of the spider is easily seen as thier webs are covered in dew and rain drops.  The female orb web spider lays her eggs, leaving them in an egg sac over winter.  They hatch in the spring.  She dies with the first frosts.

Orb Web spider

Seven Spot Ladybirds are now moving to their hibernation sites, in the middle of the Gorse, where they will be protected from predators.

7 Spot Ladybird in Gorse

Although few insects are seen overwinter, they all have ensured, by different strategies, that they will be on the wing next year.

(1) Comments:

Chris Meek responded on 2nd Nov 2013 with...

Picture of Chris Meek

Excellent blog: found it really interesting and informative. Good pictures too.


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