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.


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





How do trees drink?
Trees are an intrinsic part of our countryside - they inspire us, provide us with valuable
oxygen, punctuate our countryside with texture and colour, they provide shade
for us and our animals and contribute to our economy.
When we think about trees 'drinking'  it's difficult to imagine but, like us, trees do react to things such as temperature changes, sunlight and even smells and do infact need to drink water, (well,  when I say drink it's not in the same way that we do of course) and like us trees require a steady flow of nutrients in order to survive.

Trees may not have any capability of  movement which enables them to shuffle over to the nearest stream to drink but beneath that knarled bark exterior they've evolved an
ingenious way of making the most out of the processes that take place beneath their exterior.  Namely, Transpiration.  This process works in conjunction
with the tree's need for water which literally enables it to 'drink'.  

Transpiration keeps trees cool in the summer and this process basically involves the evaporation of water from the trees leaves via tiny pores on their underside called stomata.
Hot summer temperatures or strong winds trigger the amount of water that evaporates from these tiny pores - the tree
itself can open or close these pores at will at regular intervals to release gasses.

As Transpiration takes place via the leaves in the canopy then this initiates water literally being 'drawn' up from the trees roots deep in the soil to the tips of its leaves to regulate moisture levels within the tree.