Insects of Birling Gap

A great green bush cricket

The mix of habitats, micro-climate, soils and food plants provides plenty of places for insects on the downs with hundreds of species present below is just a small selection of what is here.

Has the Flame Brocade set up home around Beachy Head?

Till recently the flame brocade had been an irregular migrant to the downs around Eastbourne. Then in 2011 the moth was first recorded in some numbers around Horseshoe Plantation to the NE of Birling Gap.

A pinned flame brocade moth
A pinned flame brocade

 In 2015 the slow growing population was found around the overflow car park on the rough grasses. This is the first ‘significant’ colony to be found in the UK for more than a century.

Hopefully this moth can really establish its self on the downs as there is plenty of habitat available for it in the vicinity.

It uses snail shells as nests

The Red-tailed Mason bee is restricted to limestone and chalk soils in the south of England. The males are some of the earliest bees to fly in spring with females appearing two weeks later. 

The bee uses a large variety of flowers and shrubs including wood spurge, kidney vetch and Blackthorn to nectar on. 

Red-tailed Mason bee
a red tailed mason bee

 An interesting fact about this mason bee is that it uses the shells of snails as nests.  Once it is finished it camouflages the shell with dead grass stems and leaf fragments.

Big bright and green

The bright Great Green-bush cricket is our largest cricket at 55mm long. Its lumbering quality is distinctive as it hops around the vegetation after being disturbed. 

The adult is active from late July to autumn and has a loud song which can be heard from a long distance away. It can be very numerous in the coastal scrub at Birlng Gap where it has a variety of plants to eat from.

Great green bush cricket
A great green bush cricket