It is not known how many species of insects there are the world wide, but more than 930000, have so far been described and named. Insects make up about 80% of all known animals. In Britain, 20000 have so far been identified and it has been estimated that the top nine inches of top soil covering an acre of meadow land could hold 230 million soil-dwelling insects. No other group of living creatures has such a variety of form, colour, function and habitat.
With such large numbers existing, invertebrates are the most under-recorded of all wildlife and Martley has few records, and still fewer entomologists..
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Butterflies tend to be the main species that people have an interest in. I have records of 30 species found in the parish over the years, of these only 16 could be recorded as common. These include the Whites, Peacock, Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Common and Holly Blues, Orange Tip. More unusual are theHairstreak’s, Brimstone, Painted Lady, some of the Fritillaries and the Skippers. Of the rarer butterflies, Clouded Yellow, Brown Argus and Wood White (a colony of these can be found at Collins Green).
Many species to be found, with some of the larger Hawk Moths being the more easily seen.
At one time Glow-worms were regularly seen along the lanes of the parish, but sadly they have now almost disappeared, some are still to be seen but because of their rarity, the locations need be too kept secret. Stag Beetle can be found amongst the rotting stumps of the older trees in some woodlands. These beetles are now nationally rare.
Grasshoppers and Crickets can be found on the wilder parts of the area, Berrow Hill, Pudford, Collins Green. Hornets appear most years at a number of locations, often the roof of houses.
Of the larger insects, Dragonflies and Damselflies can be seen over most well-established pools and along woodland rides. The commonest Dragonfly is the Common Darter, which flies from mid-June to mid-October. Males have an orange/red abdomen. Other common dragonflies in Martley are: the Brown Hawker, in flight from July to mid-September, the only brown dragonfly; Southern Hawker – this species does wander away from water and is often encountered in gardens. It has green spots on a brown body. This is the last dragonfly of the season to be seen, often flying till mid-October.
Damselflies differ from true dragonflies by resting with their wings folded along the abdomen, and are more delicate-looking. In the parish, the commonest is the Blue-tailed Damselfly, its abdomen is black with a conspicuous blue area near the end of the tail. Its flight period is early June to late August. It is found in all types of aquatic habitats. Azure Damselflies are almost as common, and they have a tendency to stay closer to the pool margins rather than over the water. They are in flight from late May to mid-August. Males are sky blue and black. Along the river Teme the Banded Demoiselle is the more common of the damselflies. Males appear to be a metallic blue, too almost a bottle green, with a blue band across the wing, in the female, the wing is clear.
Of the rarer Dragonflies, the Club Tailed Dragonfly is found along the river Teme. This is a very important stronghold for this nationally rare insect. It could be the parish’s rarest animal. It is a medium sized dragonfly that is unique in having its eyes set apart. It is black with yellow to pale green markings. Its main distinguishing feature is the club – shaped tail. Its flight period is from mid-May to mid-June.
By kind permission of Brian Draper M.B E
Last updated 14/9/05