Winter wonderland

Winter is a time of quiet rebirth. Nature rests and renews itself. Leaves fall and molecules return to the soil; ready to be recycled and reused. There is great beauty in this process of decomposition. The sun stays low in the sky but still provides some warmth on sunny days. A leaf, blown here and…

In praise of Peacocks!

There has been no shortage of Peacock butterflies this summer! People have been commenting on social media about the large numbers of this species in many parts of the country. Given that it is, in my opinion, the most beautiful butterfly that we have in the UK, that is great news.  I actually think that…

Order, order! Insect diversity.

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 ask a member of each Order of insects, to describe the main innovations and adaptations which have led to the success of their particular group.…

Spiders and mites on gorse

Gorse is beautiful plant, although best viewed from a distance, rather than walked through, as it is incredibly spiny and prickly. The sharp spines are, however, a tremendous advantage if you are small enough to live within their protection. It is also a plant that is remarkably variable in terms of its flowering period and…

Something blue – butterfly wings

There are plenty of blue organisms in the world, but blue is nevertheless the rarest pigment found in nature. Most blue colours are produced by physical effects and are called structural colours. There are no true blue pigment in plants and thus no true blue flowers! There are blue flowers of course, but they produce this colour using modified red…