Creature comforts

Landscape
Bees
Red wood ants
White-letter
hairstreak
butterfly
White-clawed
crayfish
Violet oil beetle
info

Excuse me!

No, not up there – down here, on the ground. Yes, it’s me, your little friend the red wood ant and I’d like to introduce you to some of the wonderful creatures you can see in nature spots all around the region and how you can help protect our habitats.

Creature Comforts

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Excuse me! No, not up there – down here, on the ground. Yes, it’s me, your little friend the red wood ant and I’d like to introduce you to some of the wonderful creatures you can see in nature spots all around the region and how you can help protect our habitats

We clean up waste, pollinate plants, help scientists study changes in the environment and feed larger animals (including you, I might add. There are more than 2,000 species of edible insects and some people say that eating these may be the solution to our food and climate problems.)

Anyway, it’s safe to say insects are incredibly important to the health of our planet. Sadly, our friends at the Wildlife Trusts say that 4 in 10 of us are in danger of extinction. But fear not – there are loads of ways you can help. Dive in…

Ant-y establishment

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Last, but not least, my friends the red wood ants and I need to thank the sharp-eyed workers at Bristol Water who noticed we had built our nest against some electrical equipment. Sadly, we are listed as Near Threatened on the global IUCN Red List of Threatened Species so phone calls were made, plans were hatched and we were safely scooped up and relocated to a much more suitable spot in nearby woodland. We may look cute but we pack quite a punch and will bite or spray formic acid if we feel threatened. You can see us in coniferous and broadleaved woodland, heathland and moorland… just remember you can look, but please don’t touch!

Buzz feed

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Have you heard about Urban Buzz? They’re working hard to create irresistible habitats for our much-loved pollinators – that’s bees, butterflies and the like – who are in decline. As part of the project, my buddies at Bristol Water have created buzzing hotspots filled with wildflowers, bug-friendly plants, flowering shrubs and other treats that pollinators will find enticing. You can help too, by making the Pollinator Promise. Find out more at pollinatorpromise.co.uk

Build a caterpillar café

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Step 1

Grab an empty jar from your recycling box (we like a big pickled onion jar) and pop a paper towel in the bottom.

Step 2

Search the trees around your home to find a caterpillar and place it plus leaves from the same plant into your jar.

Step 3

Add a handful of twigs to the jar to give the caterpillars something to climb up and hang from when they’re in their cocoons.

Step 4

Feed your caterpillars with fresh leaves every day (or as needed) – never crunchy or dead leaves – and spritz with water if they’re looking dry.

Now watch as the caterpillars grows, forms into a pupa or chrysalis then emerges as a fully formed, beautiful butterfly ready for you to set free!

Flying high

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You’ll need sharp eyes to spot my fluttering friend, the white-letter hairstreak butterfly. They hang out in the treetops only coming down to nectar on flowers like bramble and privet. They are Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act and are occasionally seen at Chew Valley Lake.

The life aquatic

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Take a wander along the water’s edge and you’ll meet some cracking critters, each playing a vital role in the ecosystem. Consider the white-clawed crayfish, the UK’s only indigenous freshwater crayfish which is under threat from a non-native, invasive species. Look carefully and you’ll see them in streams and brooks, hiding among the rocks and pebbles. Like all invertebrates, they are highly sensitive to pesticides and pollution so we want to keep our streams clean, free of litter and allow luscious vegetation to grow up along the river banks.

Purple reign

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Incredibly rare but utterly charming, the violet oil beetle can be seen scuttling around Chew Valley Lake sunning itself on paths or digging burrows in which to lay its eggs. Wait for the sun to shine and admire how its dull black colour transforms into shades of purple, blue or green.

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Creature comforts

Insects clean up waste, pollinate plants, help scientists study changes in the environment and feed larger animals (including you, I might add. There are more than 2,000 species of edible insects and some people say that eating these may be the solution to our food and climate problems.)

Anyway, it’s safe to say insects are incredibly important to the health of our planet. Sadly, our friends at the Wildlife Trusts say that 4 in 10 of us are in danger of extinction. But fear not – there are loads of ways you can help. Dive in…