There are said to be about 460 species of dung beetles in Europe (Byk & Piętka, 2018), with about 60 of them occurring in the UK. They carry out the … Continue Reading The humble dumbledor: Trypocopris dung beetles
We mammals are quite fortunate in having bones! They reside inside us, and our skeleton grows as we grow. Insects on the other hand, have an external skeleton, or exoskeleton, … Continue Reading Insect cuticle
I like seagulls! But I know that Herring gulls (Larus argentatus) are not universally loved. They are a bit like marmite; love them or hate them! Like us, their world … Continue Reading Seagulls in lockdown
Rock doves, or common pigeons (Columba livia), like those shown here have iridescent green and purple feathers around their necks. Both males and females show these iridescent colours, although females … Continue Reading Iridescent feathers of pigeons
If insects could talk – English preferably! – I would like to ask them what they think is the key to their great success! In particular, I would like to … Continue Reading Order, order! Insect diversity.
In this blog, I have delved into the voluminous research on the common fruit fly, or vinegar fly, Drosophila melanogaster, and tried to produce a readable, hopefully entertaining, fly-level … Continue Reading A courtship duet: Drosophila melanogaster
Tibial spurs are an ancient feature, found on most insects, from bees to moths, although in some species they have been lost or modified over evolutionary time to suit the … Continue Reading Insect tibial spurs: a highly versatile tool!
The subject of reduced or modified forelegs in butterflies might strike some people as being rather obscure, but it is – as I hope to demonstrate – a fascinating tale … Continue Reading Forelegs and four legs in butterflies!
Phoresy, which is also called phoresis, is an association between two organisms, where one travels on the body of another, without being a parasite or causing it any harm. In … Continue Reading Phoresy: mites hitchhiking on burying beetles
It’s a wonder we all don’t meet up on the top of hills or mountains! It’s such a great way of finding someone: just keep going up until you get … Continue Reading Love in high place: hilltopping butterflies
Some people may have seen the image of a fruit fly brain published last month (January 2020), by C. Shan Xu, and a large number of coworkers, and picked up … Continue Reading The tiny brain of a fly!
Harvestmen, or harvest-spiders, are invertebrates in the order Opiliones. The very long-legged ones are sometimes called Daddy longlegs, but this common term is also used for crane flies, so its … Continue Reading Harvestmen – highly successful invertebrates with an ancient lineage
Marsh fritillaries, Euphydryas aurinia (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae), are one of my favourite butterflies. The beautiful tapestry of yellow, orange and black colours on their wings creates a stunningly attractive pattern, especially … Continue Reading Love is a carousel: courting Marsh fritillaries!
Ocelli (singular: ocellus) are simple eyes and are found on many different kinds of insects (such as bees, wasps, flies and dragonflies) and spiders. In adult insects, like the beautiful … Continue Reading Look into my ocelli! Simple eyes.
Capturing animal behaviour in a photograph (or even a video) is never easy. The wonderful natural history programmes we see on television, have often taken the film-makers months, if not … Continue Reading Capturing butterfly behaviour in the field
Coneheads (Conocephalinae) are not particularly common in the UK – there are three species in southern England – but head south, and they start to get much more abundant. In … Continue Reading Crunchy coneheads: edible insects