Nature at Home: It’s Not Just Insects

This time, we’re looking at organisms other than insects, there are plenty of other invertebrates to enjoy.

Most people I’ve talked to don’t like slugs and snails – maybe it’s because I don’t have a garden and they’re not eating my plants – but I find their little faces ever so charming. There are also fascinating reproductive behaviours to behold. And did you know, some slugs even have a tiny shell ? There are plenty of snails to be found in ponds in gardens or public areas.

Slug (taken with Olympus TG5 point and shoot camera on macro setting) © Lee Ismail.
Great pond snail (taken with Olympus TG5 point and shoot camera in underwater mode) © Lee Ismail.

It seems this post is full of the less popular animals. I know not everyone likes spiders, but there are a huge variety of them. If you can bear it, their features are fascinating under magnifiers or macro lenses. Wolf spiders (Lycosidae) can be seen prowling across grass or sunbathing on walls. They are the gardener’s friend, as they help control pest numbers. Females are often seen carrying their egg sacs around with them. Woodlouse spiders (Dysdera crocata) are another distinctive spider, brightly coloured and with a powerful bite for taking on their woodlouse prey. A minibeast that may appear like a spider but actually isn’t, is the harvestman. They are arachnids but lack the segmented body of a spider.

Wolf spider (taken on a smartphone) © Kerrie Curzon.
Woodlouse spider (taken with Olympus TG5 point and shoot camera on macro setting) © Lee Ismail.
Harvestman (taken with Olympus TG5 point and shoot camera) © Lee Ismail.

Another familiar invertebrate are worms. They are popular as food for many animals such as blackbirds, moles and foxes but they also have an important role while they are alive. Worms tidy up lawns and grassy areas for you. They clear away fallen leaves by dragging them into the ground and perform many useful roles that keep soil healthy and enable plants to grow. They’re also easier to photograph as they’re slow-moving and you can really see the slimy, segmented details.

Worms in a composter (taken with a DSLR camera) © Lee Ismail.

Hopefully pausing to consider these other creatures will allow greater appreciation. Perhaps a closer look will confirm why you don’t like them, but if you can overcome the repulsion you may see something you didn’t know about before.

Get Involved

You can add your sightings to the City Nature Challenge (24th – 27th April 2020).

The Field Studies Council (FSC) has excellent guides for insects, which are often very easy to use and UK Safari has a guide to spiders. 

The Woodland Trust produce handy swatches:

Minibeasts swatch

Invertebrates 

Some useful guides to slugs and snails:

Nature Spot Slugs & Snails

Countryfile How to identify common species and protect your plants

Discover More

Read other posts in the Nature at Home series

Kerrie Curzon, Collections Assistant

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