Plas Farm is a great place to go insect spotting – butterflies, grasshoppers, beetles, moths – they all live in the countryside around the holiday cottages. All pictures taken at Plas Farm.
Seven Spotted Ladybird Coccinella 7-punctata
These small round flying beetles are often seen around the holiday cottages during the summer months, the seven spotted variety being common in Wales. The ladybird's bright colours are a warning to predators of its foul taste. When disturbed the ladybird will secrete small amounts of its oily foul-smelling yellow blood from its legs as a further warning to predators such as ants or birds. These ladybirds like to eat garden pests and the average seven-spot will eat more than 5,000 aphids in its year-long life. The name ladybird comes from the Middle Ages when the colourful insects were known as the "beetle of Our Lady". They were named after the Virgin Mary because in early religious paintings she was often shown wearing a red cloak. The seven-spots symbolise seven joys and seven sorrows.
Meadow Grasshopper Chorthippus parallelus
One of the typical sounds of summer, the chirping of grasshoppers, begins on sunny days in late June or July. The wings are insufficiently developed for the grasshopper to fly, but it is common on all types of grassland in Wales. It only becomes active after warming its blood by basking in the sunshine. To find one when out walking on the farm, disturb the grass gently near the source of a chirp and a grasshopper will usually jump out. You can then follow and watch it!
Green Tiger Beetle Chorthippus parallelus
The Green Tiger Beetle may be found on Marchywel mountain behind the cottages. It has a green body with creamy-white spots. It is fiercely carnivorous and at close quarters, it's large compound eyes and the wide gape of its serrated mandibles make it a ferocious predator. It is one of the fastest running British insects and is most obvious on hot sunny days in early summer as it scurries across open areas in pursuit of some poor creature.
Common Green Grasshopper Omocestus viridulus
This chap is smaller and greener than the common field grasshopper and is found on unimproved wet meadows throughout Wales. It has a very characteristic prolonged song and the species is undergoing a major decline resulting from the loss of wet meadows.
Peacock Butterfly Inachis io
The Peacock belongs to a group of butterflies know as the Aristocrats - the largest and most colourful butterflies in the Welsh countryside. It has four false eyes on its wings and also uses sound to frighten away a predator such as a bird. As the predator approaches, the butterfly will open and close its wings rapidly, making a scraping noise as the wings rub together.
Buff-tailed Bumble Bee Bombus terrestris
Britain has 18 species of bumble-bee, the largest of which is the buff-tailed bumble-bee. They are much thicker and hairier than honey bees and their colonies are much smaller - up to 150 bumble bees compared to 50,000 honey bees. They forage for food, pollinate flowers and sting just like honey bees. They also have three castes - workers, drones and a queen. They do not make enough honey to survive the winter and all die as the cold weather arrives. Fertilised young queens fly off and hibernate until the spring sun wakens them to found new colonies.
Silver Y Moth Autographa gamma
Both its English and scientific names describe this moths characteristic feature - the white mark on each fore-wing that can be read either a Y or as the symbol for the Greek letter gamma. It is an extremely abundant moth in Wales and can be seen most often during the day, either feeding on the nectar of flowers or flitting rapidly between flowers in the meadows. It is a fast flyer and a regular migrant to Wales from the Continent.
Garden Spider Araneus diadematus
The garden spider is one Britain's 40 species of orb-web spiders. It is sometimes known as a garden-cross or a diadem spider because of the white cross on its back. Orb spiders build complex webs to catch their prey. When an insect is caught in it, the spider bites and paralyses it. It then bundles it in silk and injects it with enzymes to turn its body tissues into liquid for eating. Look our for the sparkle of dew-laden webs when out walking in the early morning of late summer or early autumn.
Large Skipper Ochlodes venata
The largest of the British skippers, the male has a dark bar (the scent scales) in the centre of the forewing. This picture was taken in the rush pasture on the hill behind the holiday cottages one sunny day in July.
Insect Species at Plas Farm
An insect is described as an air breathing animal with a hard jointed exoskeleton, and, in the adult, a body divided into three parts; the head with one pair of antennae, the thorax which carries three pairs of legs and usually two pairs of wings, and the abdomen which contains the guts and reproductive organs.
Royal Entomological Society
The Royal Entomological Society was founded in 1833 as the Entomological Society of London. Many eminent scientists of the past, Darwin and Wallace to mention but two, have been Fellows of the Society. The Society welcomes applications for election from people who are actively involved in entomology either professionally or as amateurs. Their website has many useful insect related links.
IMPORTANT SAFETY WARNING
Some insects can sting. Care is therefore essential when spotting insects.