Postcards from Slough
Postcards from Slough

Insects and invertebrates

This page is about some of the arthropod wildlife in a Slough garden – my garden and here are just a few examples of the wildlife seen within that space.

 

Most of the photos were taken in my garden and that all of the species shown and described here have visited my garden at some time. The contents of this page may vary from time to time.

Hawthorn shield bug

Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale

This is a common European shield or stink bug which mostly eats haws, the fruit of the hawthorn tree. Adults will overwinter on leaves and some are found on potential food plants, including oaks and whitebeam. They are coloured n shades of green and brown. Stink bugs may release unpleasant odours when disturbed.

 

The hawthorn shield bug is found across mainland Europe and is common in southern parts of Britain. Its distribution appears to be spreading north. In Britain and North Western Europe the species is generally active between the months of April and October, although some can revive from hibernation during periods of unseasonable warm weather during the winter.

Length: 17mm (⅝in)

Common blue damselfly

Enallagna cyathigerum

Probably the most common damselfly in Britain, the common blue will typically fly low through reeds and often well out over water. They are fairly easy to approach unlike the similar azure damselflies which have slightly different markings; in particular they have two black stripes on each side of the abdomen as opposed to one on the common blue. Incidentally, damselflies differ from dragonflies as they hold their wings folded at rest, whereas dragonflies hold their wings open.

Wingspan: 20-50mm

 

If you have a pond, stick some lengths of bamboo into the bank at angles of about 45° to provide resting posts for dragonflies and damselflies.

Garden cross or orb-web spider

Araneus diadematus

Photo courtesy of Dennis Flint

Named for the cross mark on its abdomen, the garden cross spider uses its third pair of legs to assist the spinning orb webs. The larger female spins the web and is quite passive as it waits for small flying insects to become entangled in the silky threads. When this happens the spider quickly catches its prey and wraps it in silk before devouring it.

 

These spiders eat the web each day along with the entangled insects, and spin a new one the following morning. During mating the male approaches the female with caution as she might instinctively attack and eat him as prey. Spiders are not insects but belong to the class Arachnids.

Adult females are 7-20mm long and males are 6-13mm.

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