Bugs & Beasties

a guide to Bugs & Beasties

Monkmead Wood also has its own family of bugs and beasties, so look out for them when you’re out and about this year..

 

Green Shield Bug  Green Shield Bug
…or sometimes known as the Green Stink Bug because it produces a pungent odour from special glands if handled or disturbed. This bright green bug which is quite hard to spot in Summer and changes colour to a greeny-bronze in Autumn - it gets its name from its flat shield-like appearance.  Adults feed on plant sap and leaves of trees.  They can be found around woodland edges in Spring, Summer and Autumn.
 
 
 Stag Beetles

Stag BettleIn Germany male Stag Beetles were associated with 'Thor the God of Thunder' and it was thought that if you put a male stag beetle on your head during a thunder storm you wouldn’t be struck by lightening! Stag Beetles have a very long life cycle compared to some other beasties - from larvae to adult can take up to 7 years, although adults themselves live for only one month. Stage Beetle larvae eat dead wood so they also help with the decomposition of dead trees in the woodland which is where they are mostly found.  

One of the easiest beasties to spot and now only found in the South of England this impressive beetle is our largest - males growing up to 5cms 2” in length. Males use their enormous pincer like mandibles in combat during the mating season, using them to grab their opponent - the winner will throw the loser to the ground.

Hornet

Hornet  
It’s the biggest wasp in Europe at 3-5cm (2” long) and with a face like this accompanied by a very loud buzzing sound it's got to be one of our scariest beasties!  Although it’s huge this beastie is quite docile and unlikely to sting.  Hornets chew up rotten wood to make a nest constructed of a paper-like substance so they prefer woodland with plenty of rotting wood.  There are only 100-200 hornets in each nest.  You’ll see them around during April/May to October.
 
 Devil’s Coach-Horse     
Devils CoachThis is a formidable beastie!  Although not as large as some others at just 2.5cm (1”) in length it can still deliver a powerful and painful bite from it’s curved mandibles and when threatened it opens its jaws and rears up its tail – squirting a smelly substance from its rear end in defence.  Those jaws are used to make short work of caterpillars, earwigs, spiders and sometimes even carrion which it feeds on. 
And it favours woodlands, grassy places and gardens too, so watch out for this one! Below is a photo of the Nursery Web Spider - details to follow

 

Nursery web spider IMG_8846

 

 

 

 

Monkmead Wood's historical past
Monkmead Wood is a site rich in history.  From a Roman Road which disects the site, to its connections with World War 2, it's a fascinating place and home to many species of wildlife too.
 
At just under 28.5 acres it can boast both wet and dry heathlands, a SSSI and varied broadleaf deciduous tree species (some of which are featured on this site). 
 
Some clues as to the woodland's past ownership are still visible today.  Ornamental tree planting of huge pines are thought to have been planted by the owners of Monkmead Place, a large residential house opposite the woodland, back in 18th or 19th Century.

Remains of the Candian Army camp from World War 2 are visible throughout the woodland even today, these range from ceramic telephone lines to brick foundations from administration buildings.  

The woodland itself is owned by Horsham District Council and it has been working closely with MWVG for the past 7 years to continue to preserve this site for many generations to come. 
 
One of the tasts that the volunteer group are involved in every year is heathland preservation.  Although the group spend many hours removing birch saplings which had colonised the area, some mature trees are a vital component of the heathland as song posts for birds and homes for insects.  If the encroachment of birch was not kept under control their coverage of the heathland would reduce the light reaching the woodland floor and seriously affect the conditions required for heathland species making it difficult for them to re-establish in the area.
 
The next time you're walking in the woodland see if you can spot those ceramic phone lines from World War 2!