Charlecote's abundant bugs

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While the fallow deer in the parkland are undoubtedly the stars of our wildlife show, Charlecote’s ancient trees and managed grasslands are home to a myriad of bugs and insects. All of them play an important part of the broad ecosystem here - but some won’t be winning beauty awards.

Stag and rhinoceros beetles
You may find it’s easier to name the bugs you spot than you would think. Found in decaying timber in the parkland are longhorn beetles (their horns can be longer than their bodies), cardinal beetles (bright red), as well as rhinoceros beetles (with a little 'horn' on the front of their heads) and stag beetles (their mandibles look like antlers).

Look closely and listen too
Along the river, you’ll easily see darting dragonflies and damselflies. Look closer and you may spot tortoise beetles on the water mint at the edges or red mason bees excavating holes in the river bank to collect mud for nesting.

On any warm day you’ll hear the rasping sound of grasshoppers and you can often track one down despite its camouflage in the grass.

Friends or foes?
It’s not only the bees from our hives that appreciate our flower borders, the lavender along the croquet lawn in particular brings in white-tailed and red-tailed bumble bees too.

There are hoverflies in abundance, easily mistaken for wasps at first sight but this is simply a defence mechanism to deter predators. They don’t sting and they are welcome in the gardens as their larvae eat aphids.

Inevitably we have harlequin ladybirds as well as the native species but as they are almost impossible to tell apart, we just have to leave them to co-exist.

Utterly butterfly
The most attractive of all the insects here are butterflies, take a look among the flowers from spring to autumn and you’re bound to see them unless it’s a really wet day.

There are striking scarlet and black Red Admirals and Peacocks with their distinctive ‘eye’ wing markings. Easily mistaken for a ragged Tortoiseshell are Comma butterflies – when they close their wings you’ll be able to see the distinctive white ‘comma’ on the undersides.

Another unusual butterfly is the Large Skipper which looks rather like a moth at rest, this meadow-loving species often comes into the gardens from the surrounding grassland.

Beautiful, colourful, ugly or weird – why not Tweet what you’ve found on your visit to Charlecote?

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