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Nature at Home: Indoor Invertebrates

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Let’s not forget about the insect life inside your homes. While you may be enjoying spending time outdoors and spotting creepy-crawlies, you may not be able to go out at all, or you may feel limited by your one trip out a day.

Aside from the unwanted insects, like case-bearing moths – a pest in both homes and museums – you may encounter many other invertebrates that wander in. Rare visitors may include larger moths, beetles and hoverflies, as well as many more flying and crawling invertebrates. If you’re really keen you can leave your window open at night and see what is attracted in by the light.

A moth photographed inside a house (taken with Olympus TG5 point and shoot camera on macro setting) © Lee Ismail.

During the winter, you may have found certain butterflies inside your house. Species such as the peacock and small tortoiseshell can sometimes be found hibernating indoors. Sheds are much more suitable for this, as there’s less chance of them being disturbed and it’s the right temperature.

Peacock butterfly feeding on blossom during spring (taken with a DSLR camera) © Lee Ismail.

As spring is progressing, more butterfly species are emerging. Due to their larger size, most butterflies are can be seen out of the window. Using a careful aim of the binoculars, I was able to identify a red admiral when it settled on a sunny external windowsill.

Get Involved

Identifying butterflies is one of the easiest places to start as they are relatively large and have striking colours and patterns. There are many useful books and plenty of online guides (see below). Of course, if you can get outside, now is an excellent time to see them in woodlands, parks and gardens. The speckled wood is very reliably seen in patches of sunlight in a shady woodland.

Whether it’s inside or outside, if you manage to take a picture but can’t identify an insect (or any other organism) upload it to iSpot so that someone can identify it for you. There’s also a chance this year to get involved in the City Nature Challenge to spot and upload your nature sightings.

Insects are perfect for macro photography, there are some impressive cameras and lenses out there. But even your smartphone can take surprisingly high-quality pictures. Why not share yours on social media?

Lime hawkmoth caterpillar (Mimas tiliae) (taken with a smartphone) © Lee Ismail.

Jumping spider (taken with Olympus TG5 point and shoot camera on macro setting) © Lee Ismail.

Of course, paying attention to anything closely means you’ll not only see the animal you’re looking at but, the vegetation too. Keep an eye out for the next series of posts about plants.

The Field Studies Council (FSC) has excellent guides for insects, which are often very easy to use

The Woodland Trust produce handy swatches too:

Minibeasts swatch


Other insects

Butterfly Conservation has Identify a Butterfly

The Natural History Museum has Spiders in your Home

Discover More

Read other posts in the Nature at Home series

Kerrie Curzon, Collections Assistant