Britain’s Best Bugs – Creepy Crawlies You Can’t Help But Love
For some of us, our multiple-legged neighbours from the garden are an endless source of panic. They are creepy, and definitely crawly. But, as sources around the world are reporting a decline in wildlife worldwide, we thought it’s high time to clear up some misconceptions, and introduce some of our insect & arachnid friends who are certainly not going to bite or eat you.
Check out three of our favourites below, and see if you can identify them in your home or in your garden. Take care of them and they will genuinely return the favour, one way or another. Bugs are some of the most important parts of ecosystems, after all.
Zebra Jumping Spider (Salticus scenicus)
Intrepid and miniscule, the Zebra jumping spider can be found in homes and gardens across Britain and across the northern hemisphere. Utterly harmless, this spider prefers to hop long distances to pounce on prey, including flies, moths, mosquitoes and even other spiders. They love warm sunny windowsills and can often be found with relative ease in the home and garden.
Easily recognizable by their large eyes and zebra stripes, this spider is surprisingly friendly – if you manage to get close to one, its binocular vision means it will study you as you study it.
The largest Zebra jumping spiders don’t get bigger than five millimetres big, so please, don’t squash this little visitor as it rambles through your home or garden. Arachnophobia has been on the rise due to sensationalist headlines about false widow spiders but have a care for the little guy. They’re also quite adorable, before they bounce right off the palm of your hand.
Bumblebee (various species)
Across the world we’re coming to realise that industrial agricultural chemicals are an ever-encroaching threat to our bee population – and the common bumblebee is no exception. These bees aren’t aggressive, and will only sting if provoked or swatted at. Relaxed body language is key with bees – if you stay calm, so will they.
The bumblebee is one of the most well-known garden insects in the UK – and it’s one of our favourite pollinators. It’s fluffy, chubby and poses no real threat to you, or your family. Classic bumblebee behaviour involves pollinating flowering plants with their fuzz, so grow wild blooms anywhere you can, even if it means sprinkling mixed seed packs (which you can get from most supermarkets) on any bare earth you find.
Bees need to drink too – and an easy way to let them do so is to get a shallow dish, or re-purpose an ashtray, and fill it with marbles. After that, top it up with water, leaving the marbles slightly above the surface to provide a small island for your bees to land on and safely drink from. They can’t thank you personally, but we’re sure they would if they could.
Seven Spot Ladybird (Coccinella septempunctata)
The seven spot ladybird is another big member of our garden cast – instantly recognizable, and yet also endangered by imported Harlequin ladybird intruders from abroad. Increasingly difficult to find in urban areas, nevertheless the seven spotted variety is not too difficult to track down in pastures in the countryside. It’s very fond of thistles, as seen here in this original image taken by one of our team.
The seven spot is also one of nature’s most efficient predators of greenfly and other aphids – a gardener’s worst nightmare. These pests will suck the life out of your plant, cover it in mold, and reproduce at a rate that seems somewhat terrifying. Enter the ladybird, who can eat them up even faster than they can reproduce. Their appetite peaks at night time, so don’t be surprised to find them lounging around on a leaf in the daytime.
Although ladybirds can be ordered online and released wholesale into an aphid infested garden, there’s nothing like doing a bit of bug catching yourself. Find ladybirds and their larvae (who look very different) on thistles, nettles, and large leafy bushes. Collect them in a tin or box and set them to work – even on your indoor plants. They will keep themselves busy feeding until they decide to fly off to a new home.