Summer Invertebrates around Ecosulis Head Office in Newton St Loe, Bath

Posted by Michael Williams - AIEEM BSc (Hons) on 11/07/2011

This summer has seen a lot of interesting and notable invertebrates within the vicinity of the Ecosulis head office in Newton St Loe, Bath.

The office garden is home to the Nationally Scarce dotted bee-fly, a parasite of solitary bees, and it’s host, the grey bee, which nests in the short grass at the top of the car park. Up to three dotted bee-flies were seen in the office garden this year, and many more were seen around the area. The adult fly is a nectar feeder and is particularly fond of primroses, which we have planted in the garden.

The juniper shieldbug is present on the cypress in the office garden. This species was formerly a rarity, feeding exclusively on juniper, however recently it has begun to feed on cypress and is now locally common in the area. The garden is also home to the Local woodlouse Armadillidium depressum, and previously the Local lesser earwig has been found around the compost bin.

A grassy bank close to Newton Mill campsite, just down the road from the Ecosulis head office, has yielded a few interesting finds. Right now the bank is covered in striking five-spot burnet moths and  locally common marbled white butterflies, with up to 40 seen on one visit. The uncommon striped-winged grasshopper is present in good numbers as well, with only a few having been heard in recent years.

Much more frequent than in previous years in the area is Roesel’s bush cricket. A former rarity, it has expanded its range in recent years. For the last few years they have only been present in a small area of grassland next to the bus stop in Newton St Loe, however this year  their distinctive call, not unlike a bicycle freewheeling down a hill, has been heard in many places around the area.

The back roads in and around Newton St Loe have had a few interesting species in the last few years. Last year an oak tree was home to a hornet nest, having previously been home to a large colony of the tree-dwelling jet ant (of which a long line of the ants stretched from the tree to the Ecosulis compost bin!). The locally common cream spot tiger moth was found on the road just outside the entrance to the Ecosulis car park earlier this year. Over the last few weeks several lesser stag beetles have been noted on the roads, particularly close to dead wood and tree stumps in the hedgerows. A relative of the stag beetles, the rhinoceros beetle, was found on a log in nearby Twerton in late June this year.  

In late summer, the Nationally Scarce hornet mimic hoverfly Volucella zonaria  frequents the garden. This hoverfly is about the same size and has similar markings to hornets, and at first glance it can easily be mistaken for one. The smaller, and also Nationally Scarce, Volucella inanis was spotted feeding on bramble just up the road in Twerton at the weekend.

With all of these, and many more, species currently out at the moment, July is a suitable time to undertake summer invertebrate surveys. Please contact Ecosulis if you would like to request a quote.