Invertebrates are numerous and varied. These are all the creatures that don’t have a backbone (mammals, birds and other larger creatures do have a backbone). Insects are the biggest group of invertebrates, but there are lots of others, like spiders and worms.
Enthusiasts from Bristol Naturalist Society visited Stoke Park in late May 2022 to see what insects and other invertebrates are thriving in the varied habitats of Stoke Park. We were on the lookout for beetles that live in dead wood, dragonflies hunting around the ponds and pollinating insects, such as bees, flies, beetles, butterflies and wasps.
Maico Weites, a Bristol-based professional entomologist, led the visit. Dylan Peters, a young local entomologist, took all the great photos illustrating this blog. Others in the group had varied levels of knowledge, including several amateurs keen to learn more about the creatures we spotted.
Why look at invertebrates?
A plentiful supply of invertebrates is important as a protein-rich source of food for other creatures to thrive in Stoke Park: Nesting birds feeding hungry chicks, bats, moles, badgers, foxes, grass snakes, slow worms amongst others. They also do a variety of other useful ecosystem jobs: worms aerate and enrich the soil, specialist beetles and millipedes break down dead wood, wasps and ladybirds provide pest control services. They can be fascinating to observe – from damselflies delicately flitting about the ponds to orb spiders creating nests in grass and butterflies basking and fluttering about. Pollinating insects buzzing, crawling and flying between flowers enable plants to develop the fruits, seeds and nuts which will either grow into new plants or be eaten by people and animals.
What did we do?
We walked a circular route that took us through flowering meadows, ancient woodland, around Duchess Pond and the wet flush nearby. In the grassland and along field edges we used nets to ‘sweep’ creatures in the long grass up, carefully transferring them to open trays or lidded pots to take a quick look at them close-up before letting them go again. Some we simply observed ‘in the wild’, maybe taking a photo before they flew or hopped off.
What did we see?
We recorded 55 species. You can access a full species list with common and scientific names at the bottom of this post.
Up in the meadows and hedgelines, there were plenty of flowers out, attracting pollinating insects, including bees, butterflies and pollinating beetles as well as grasshoppers and spiders.
Around Duchess Pond, we saw water ladybirds, two species of damselflies, a holly blue butterfly, spiders and various beetles as well as crickets and grasshoppers in the grass.
What can you do?
I hope this has inspired you to look and listen out for the many smaller creatures in Stoke Park. The main ‘trick’ is simply to slow down and to stop and observe from time to time on your walk, being attentive to what is around you. Lots of insects are active in spring and summer. In autumn some dragonflies, butterflies, ladybirds and spiders will be about. Try turning over a stone to see centipedes, beetles or woodlouse. Through the winter you may see buff-tailed bumblebees, hoverflies and spiders. RSPB, Field Studies Council, Butterfly Conservation, and other wildlife charities produce useful ID resources.
Avon Wildlife Trust suggests various actions to support wildlife in your garden or locally
There are now official butterfly and reptile transects in place, to monitor the amount, diversity and changes in species within Stoke Park. To find out more and get involved, sign up to volunteer at Stoke Park
Find out more about Bristol Naturalists’ Society
Full species list
|Mangora acalypha||Cricket Bat Spider|
|Armadillidium vulgare||Pill Woodlouse|
|Oniscus asellus||Shiny Woodlouse|
|Platyarthrus hoffmannseggii||Ant Woodlouse|
|Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies)|
|Coenagrion puella||Azure Damselfly|
|Ischnura elegans||Blue-tailed Damselfly|
|Libellula depressa||Broad-bodied Chaser|
|Orthoptera (grasshoppers and bush-crickets)|
|Pholidoptera griseoaptera||Dark Bush-cricket|
|Conocephalus sp.||Conehead sp.|
|Hemiptera (true bugs)|
|Liocoris tripustulatus||A Mirid bug|
|Leptopterna dolabrata||A Mirid bug|
|Rhopalus subrufus||A Rhopalid bug|
|Coreus marginatus||Dock Bug|
|Stenocranus minutus||A planthopper|
|Lepidoptera (Butterflies and moths)|
|Pararge aegeria||Speckled Wood|
|Polyommatus icarus||Common Blue|
|Celastrina argiolus||Holly Blue|
|Rivula sericealis||Straw Dot|
|Hymenoptera (Bees, ants, and wasps)|
|Bombus lapidarius||Red-tailed Bumblebee|
|Bombus pascuorum||Common Carder Bee|
|Bombus pratorum||Early Bumblebee|
|Lasius flavus||Yellow Meadow Ant|
|Lasius niger||Small Black Ant|
|Diptera (true flies)|
|Empis tessellata||An Empid fly|
|Leptogaster cylindrica||Striped Slender Robberfly|
|Limnia unguicornis||A snail-killing fly|
|Chloromyia formosa||Broad Centurion|
|Scathophaga stercoraria||Yellow Dung Fly|
|Chrysotoxum cautum||Large Spearhorn|
|Episyrphus balteatus||Marmalade Hoverfly|
|Pollenia sp.||A cluster fly|
|Oxystoma subulatum||An Apionid weevil|
|Oxystoma pomonae||An Apionid weevil|
|Protapion apricans||An Apionid weevil|
|Protapion ononidis||An Apionid weevil|
|Ceutorhynchus pallidactylus||A true weevil|
|Mononychus punctumalbum||Iris Weevil|
|Rhinoncus pericarpius||A true weevil|
|Rhinoncus perpendicularis||A true weevil|
|Phyllobius roboretanus||A true weevil|
|Mecinus pascuorum||A true weevil|
|Sitona lineatus||Pea-leaf Weevil|
|Cantharis rustica||A soldier beetle|
|Malachius bipustulatus||Malachite Beetle|
|Oedemera nobilis||Thick-legged Flower Beetle|
|Cassida vibex||A tortoise beetle|
|Donacia marginata||A leaf beetle|
|Adalia decempunctata||10-spot Ladybird|
|Anisosticta novemdecimpunctata||Water Ladybird|
|Harmonia axyridis||Harlequin Ladybird|
|Subcoccinella vigintiquatuorpunctata||24-spot Ladybird|
|Tytthaspis sedecimpunctata||16-spot Ladybird|
|Trichosirocalus troglodytes||A true weevil|
Field trip information: Bristol Naturalists’ Society Stoke Park field trip 2022.05.28
Field meeting leader: Maico Weites