Eight-legged plethora

First published in Letters

The week of June 25th to July 1st has been "National Insect Week".

As a visiting amateur naturalist, I have found an amazing amount of invertebrate life in a small area of Pembrokeshire this past week.

Whilst helping a relative clear an overgrown garden in Pennar, Pembroke Dock, I have recorded 6 species of butterfly, 9 species of moths and 25 species of spiders! Arachnids are my particular interest.

The most beautiful insects of the week were: Privet Hawkmoths (Sphinx ligustri); a Small Magpie Moth (Earrhypara hortulata); the lovely shiny green Thick-thighed Beetle (Oedemera nobilis); and a nymph Speckled Bush-cricket (Pholidoptera griseoaptera).

At the risk of causing panic among arachnophobes, I must point out that I found a False Widow Spider (Steatoda nobilis) in a garage in Pennar, so there are likely many more around. I have not heard of them being noted this far West before. Steatoda nobilis are capable of giving a nasty bite so I will bring this to your attention. Nevertheless, they are not aggressive and usually "play dead" if poked with a stick, which is not to be recommended. I have counted 18 of them at night in my shed and on fences in my garden in Southampton, and they are useful for keeping down flies. Although I do not mind the largest of them walking across my hand, I would not recommend that either. On no account attempt to enclose one in your fist!

Educating girls and boys about the insects around them can only be a good thing. Pembrokeshire's well-known entomologist Sarah Beynon BA(Oxon) is an expert on Dung Beetles!

Although an Englishman (of Czech extraction) I subscribe to the Welsh wildlife magazine "Natur Cymru".

Dennis Trunecka, Southampton, Hampshire.

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