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The tiny creatures that have an enormous impact on life

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: May 08, 2014

By Philip Bowern, WMN Countryside Editor, Twitter: @wmorningnewsman

The ladybird is said to be the only insect loved by most people

The ladybird is said to be the only insect loved by most people

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Insect lovers – and those with an interest in the insect world are preparing to celebrate what they are calling “The Little Things That Run the World” during National Insect Week next month.

Now in its sixth year and organised by the Royal Entomological Society, the week – which runs from June 23 to June 29 – will see scores of events held across the UK, from bug hunts and bioblitzes to minibeast safaris and moth walks.

Events planned at key locations across the UK include an invertebrate bioblitz (a snapshot of insect activity) in the garden at Highgrove, the private residence of the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, involving schoolchildren and a team of entomologists. There are also events at London’s Natural History Museum and London Zoo.

In the Westcountry there are a number of events including the Cornwall Butterfly Conservation Chairman’s Open Day at Penadlake, Lanreath, on Saturday June 28 when Philip and Faith Hambly will be inviting all Cornwall Butterfly Conservation members and friends to view their wildlife area, with its walks and lakes, where many mid-summer species of butterfly will be flying.

Cornwall Butterfly Conservation will also have displays on show and have literature for sale

In Devon, at the Bolberry Down Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, near Kingsbridge, on Sunday, June 29, experts from Buglife and the rangers from National Trust will be on hand to help visitors identify insects.

In Dorset there is a moth trap and survey at Upton Heath, near Poole, and a guided walk looking for butterflies attracted by the many wild flowers at the The Terrace Meadow, near Sherborne. Both events are being held on Sunday, June 29

On Saturday June 28, at Othery and Greinton on the A361 there is a “bugfest” and hunt for insects, organised by Trish Harper of the RSPB West Sedgemoor reserve

National Insect Week coordinator Luke Tilley said: “Insects may be small, but they have a huge impact on the natural world. We already have some fantastic events and initiatives planned for NIW 2014, and we are encouraging everyone to get involved and celebrate the little creatures that shape our environment.”

National Insect Week will also feature its ever-popular photographic competition in which people are invited to submit their best shots of on the theme of “Little Things That Run the World”. This year’s competition – launched during Insect Week – is supported by the Environment Agency.

NIW 2014 is also supported by a raft of partners nationwide, including the National Trust, National History Museum, the RSPB, Wildlife Trust and the Royal Horticultural Society. Many of these will be holding their own events locally.

To learn more about National Insect Week and the events taking place near you, visit www.nationalinsectweek.co.uk. You can also register your own National Insect Week event through the website: http://nationalinsectweek.co.uk/event_submit.php

Insect facts

Many countries use dragonflies to control the population of mosquitos. Using the dragonfly nymphs and dropping them into the water can remove up to 90% of the larvae in the water.

Kissing bugs, found in the Americas, are of huge health concern. They feed on the blood of a sleeping person and excrete protozoan blood parasite near the wound which causes Chaga’s disease, responsible for 50,000 deaths every year.

Every female aphid develops a nymph inside her which in turn contains a developing aphid embryo in Russian Doll style. This means that every female carries her own granddaughter.

Ground beetles are born with a pepper spray in their abdomen. They discharge a noxious, highly irritant fluid from the tip of their abdomen which is also used as a ‘pepper spray’ by the female ground beetles to deter over amorous males.

Ladybirds are apparently the only insects loved by most human beings. One of the biggest threats to a young ladybird is another young ladybird – cannibalism is common.

Hoverflies can fly in bursts of up to 40km per hour.

Unlike bumblebees and honeybees, cuckoo bees do not live in colonies, instead they lay their eggs in the nests of bumblebees. Having killed the honeybee queen, the female cuckoo bee leaves her offspring to be reared by the bumblebee workers.

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  • Philip J Milton & Company Plc  |  May 08 2014, 10:30AM

    Aaargh! I love insects but you didn't have to have a picture of the Harlequin Ladybird did you - the invasive species which we should be doing what we can to repel as it is a serious threat to our own species....! Please, please change the photograph and try as best you can to avoid such glaring horrors in an otherwise lovely article - just run the piccies past a knowledgeable person like Trevor Beer say!

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