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What To Look Out For - July 2016

  • Thu 30th Jun, 2016

July is a fabulous month for insects as the warm weather encourages more and more species to emerge. Everyone loves grasshoppers and many of us will remember trying to catch them when we were children, but have you ever seen a pink one?

The Meadow Grasshopper and Common Field Grasshopper can both have pink colour forms such as the one below which I found in a meadow in Yorkshire in early July 2012. The colour form is more common in the juvenile phase. Pink coloured adults may be nothing more than juveniles that didn't lose the colour as they matured. The pink is thought to be caused by a genetic mutation in their reproductive cycle. A rarer purple form has also been found!

pink form of Field Grasshopper nymph © Richard Baines pink form of Field Grasshopper nymph © Richard Baines

Look-out for these pink grasshoppers amongst our two common species Meadow Grasshopper and Common Field Grasshopper which can be found in many places, the Common Field Grasshopper can even be found in your garden. The best way to tell these two species apart is the presence of sharp zig-zags behind the head of the Field Grasshopper which also has wings which extend beyond the end of the body. The Meadow Grasshopper has straight lines behind the head with shorter wings.

Common Field Grasshopper © Dan LombardCommon Field Grasshopper © Dan Lombard

In in the forests of the North York Moors National Park (NYMNP), look-out for Mottled Grasshoppers basking in woodland clearings. They love sunny hot spots so benefit from areas of cleared trees. They are much darker than our other two common species with a strong mottled colour and zig zags behind the head.

Mottled Grasshopper © Dan LombardMottled Grasshopper © Dan Lombard

Go beetle crazy this month look-out for them anywhere from under stones to on a leaf. One of the most striking small beetles to look-out for is the Red-headed Cardinal Beetle. This scarlet red insect is common in many places from gardens to open glades in woodlands. They are predators feeding on smaller insects such as flies but they don’t harm the plants which you find them on so they are a great insect for gardeners!  

Red-headed Cardinal Beetle © Dan LombardRed-headed Cardinal Beetle © Dan Lombard 

One of the rarest insects in Yorkshire is the gorgeous Tansy Beetle. They live along a 30 km stretch of the River Ouse, around York and until recently this was the only place in the UK they could be found! Look out for them anywhere along the banks of the river from the outskirts of the city centre. The beetles are dependent on tansy for their food. A great place to visit is Rawcliffe Meadows nature reserve, click here for a link to the reserve friend’s group web page.

Tansy Beetle © Richard BainesTansy Beetle © Richard Baines

Dragonflies are very popular insects especially with photographers and July is a great month for these spectacular insects. We are luck in North and East Yorkshire in having a wide range of habitats suitable for many species. One of the best species to photograph is the Broad-bodied Chaser due to the male’s habit of often returning to the same perch from which to watch for prey and hold its feeding territory. Both sexes have a distinctive broad body called the abdomen and the male is a beautiful pale blue colour whilst the female is yellow, becoming darker towards the tip. These dragonflies can be seen almost anywhere there is a wetland, for the best opportunity try Top Hill Low Nature Reserve in East Yorkshire or Fen Bog Yorkshire Wildlife Trust Reserve in the NYMNP.

Broad-bodied Chaser male © Dan LombardBroad-bodied Chaser male © Dan Lombard

Broad-bodied Chaser female © Dan LombardBroad-bodied Chaser female © Dan Lombard

Britain’s biggest dragonfly is the Golden-ringed Dragonfly, the female has the longest abdomen of any other UK species. These beautiful insects can also be found at Fen Bog YWT as they prefer acid heathland but you can look out for them almost anywhere in the NYMNP. Watch them as they hunt many insects such as Bees, Wasps, Flies and even other Dragonflies! 

Richard Baines YCN

Golden-ringed Dragonfly © Dan LombardGolden-ringed Dragonfly © Dan Lombard