Five bugs you need to love
Insects can be annoying, but imagine if they buzzed off forever… It would be a catastrophic for us so charity Buglife is trying to stop it.
They might be tiny, but insects make up over half the planet’s species and its health depends on them. This charity’s mission is to halt their worrying decline. buglife.org.uk
Lurking in every British garden is a speedy carnivore which uses its modified legs to inject venom into its prey. Luckily it’s only other insects that need fear the centipede (in the UK at least). This many-legged bug is the gardener’s friend and comes out at night to feast on slow-moving pests like slugs and wireworms as well as faster-moving prey like woodlice and spiders.
2. Devils Coach Horse
The UK’s answer to a scorpion (but less scary), this critter has a similar pose – it raises the rear end of its body and opens its fierce jaws. This aggressive stance is only taken if it feels threatened and if it’s really freaked out it can emit a foul smelling fluid from its abdomen or even give a nip. During the day the devil’s coach horse rests under stones and logs but at night it comes out to feed on other invertebrates – dead or alive – making it a useful link in the food chain.
This member of the blowfly family doesn’t have a nice job but it’s definitely a key worker. It lays its eggs in rotting meat and the maggots that hatch out polish off the carcass, leaving clean bones and a fresh crop of body-snatchers to fly off. Without them the world would, at best, be a more unpleasant place to live. Their cousin, the greenbottle, does a similarly useful job on poo!
This slimey invertebrate is one of nature’s hoovers, cleaning up dead plants and fungi. Limax maximus is omnivorous but when in carnivore mode it can pursue other slugs at an impressive top speed of 15cm per minute. The slug that keeps slugs in check also enjoys an acrobatic sex life and likes to mate whilst dangling daringly on a thread of mucus.
These yellow-striped flying fiends are pub garden terrorists that love to ruin a pint. But vespa vulgaris, to give it its villainous Latin name, is important. Take wasps away and you’ll find a plague of other insects upon you – likes flies and plant-eating aphids. Wasps are also pollinators and amazing architects, building hexagonal paper nests from chewed up wood.
This is a feature from Issue 1 of Charitable Traveller. Click to read more from this issue.