Cavenham Heath is a wonderful nature reserve right next door to our farm shop in Tuddenham, Suffolk. We like to keep up-to-date with the bird sightings on the heath by keeping our sightings board relevant and updated weekly, and we’re very excited about the Stone Curlews that have just arrived up there for the summer.
Right now though, we’re thinking about insects, which we have lots of down south too! After hearing that we’re at risk of losing huge numbers of our insect population, we’ve started to look at the ones around us. Graeme Lyons visited the Suffolk heath at the end of last month and gave us all of his records for his visit. We’ve picked out a few of the most interesting species that are also common down here for you below:
This is my personal favourite. The Minotaur Beetle is a large dung beetle with three large horns on its head. It buries the dung of mammals (particularly sheep up on the heath) in finger-sized holes for its larvae to feed on. They grow to around 2cm long and are easily identified because of the horns.
Birch Catkin Bug
This rust-coloured bug is common on or around birch trees. It mainly feeds on the seeds of the birch, and you may sometimes find them clustered together on a single birch leaf. With all the silver birch on the reserve, you’re bound to find one if you keep your eyes peeled! Watch out though, they have stink glands to ward off predators which have led them to also be called ‘Stink bugs’.
This little guy can be found under logs and is about the size of your little fingernail. Give it a sniff – it smells like garlic! It has a yellow-brown shell which is translucent.
Ero aphana is a nationally scarce spider found on heathland. It’s one of four species within the Mimetidae genus which are also called pirate spiders. This is because, unusually, they predate the webs of other spiders – not for their food, but for the spiders themselves. These spiders grow to around 3mm long.
This is the most common and the largest member of the Squashbug family. It’s called the Dock Bug because it mostly feeds on the seeds and leaves of docks and sorrels. Like other bugs within their genus they have specially adapted mouth parts that they use to pierce plants to extract juices.
We’ve got lots of other insects to talk about, but in the meantime do let us know if you find any of these – or any other interesting ones!