How wild are we? Invertebrate Insight results

In Spring 2020, we launched our citizen science program - “How Wild Are We?” You told us what wildlife you could see from your windows, who visited your balcony and what creatures were living in your garden. This is the last of three blogs sharing the results.

    We asked our followers from across our two counties to fill out five different surveys to assess the biodiversity in their local spaces. Residents spotted birds and flying insects from their windows with the Window Wildlife Spotter; they dug around in nooks and crannies outside to find some Invertebrate Insights; they looked at a square in their garden and drew all the plants they could find in the Plant Plotter survey; for our nightlife survey, some even went out with a torch to discover our nocturnal wildlife; and for those who had ponds, we asked them to take a closer look and report back on the pondlife they saw.

Here are the results from Invertebrate Insights.

Invertebrate Insight Sheet

10th place: Centipedes

Brown centipede

© Niall Benvie/2020VISION

Centipedes are long, many-segmented invertebrates that live in the soil, under rocks, in compost heaps, or under the bark of trees, emerging at night to catch their prey. Centipedes and millipedes need a moist microhabitat. No wonder they are very effective as population control for snails, spiders and any soft-bodied insects such as grubs and earthworms.

9th place: Millipedes

millipede

© Niall Benvie/2020VISION

Excellent herbivorous shredders, millipedes are some of nature’s best recyclers. Specifically, they are detritivores, eating all kinds of debris, and pooping out the minerals from leaf litter, grass clippings, food scraps, finished crops and dead animals. It all helps in promoting the soil's health!

8th place: Beetles

Oil Beetle in the sun

© Susan Simmonds

Beetles are the most numerous organism on the planet, representing 40% of all insects. They play a pivotal role in the earth system by breaking down organic matter. Since the 1970's, insects have declined by over 40% - we cannot afford to lose them.

7th place: Slugs

Great black slug (Arion ater) brown form, crawling over patio after rain, with house and garden bench in the background, Wiltshire, UK, July.

© Nick Upton/2020VISION

Slugs and snails are very important. They provide food for all sorts of mammals, birds, slow worms, earthworms, and insects. If we upset that balance by removing them or spreading slug pellets, we can indirectly harm other wildlife.

6th place: Butterflies

Painted lady butterfly © Gemma Paul

Painted lady butterfly © Gemma Paul

Butterflies and moths are indicators of a healthy environment and healthy ecosystems. They indicate the presence of a wide range of other invertebrates, which comprise over two-thirds of all species. 

5th place: Worms

Earth worm in palm of hand

© Alan Price

The lowly worm is essential to life. It spends its life beneath our feet – it turns the soil, allowing the soil to breathe by recycling and enriching it with nutrients. Worms are the gardener’s best friend and are essential food for other wildlife.

4th place: Spiders

Fleecey jumping spider (Pseudophrys lanigera)

Fleecey jumping spider (Pseudophrys lanigera) © Josh Phangurha 

Spiders help us naturally control abundance of other insects which we might call pests. By eating other insects, spiders also help reduce the spread of diseases that insects carry.

3rd place: Bees

Buff-tailed bumblebee on flower

© Penny Frith

The "Bee Big 7" are the most common bumblebees in the UK. They are: Red-tailed (Bombus lapidarius), Early (Bombus pratorum), Common carder (Bombus pascuorum), White-tailed (Bombus lucorum), Buff-tailed (Bombus terrestris), Garden (Bombus hortorum), and Tree (Bombus hypnorum).

2nd place: Woodlice

Woodlouse

© Malcom Storey

These hardy minibeasts can be found sheltering under rocks in the garden or hiding in compost heaps, where they avoid drying out in hot weather. Common woodlice are important for their ability to feed off dead plants and creatures, recycling vital nutrients. There are 30 species of woodlouse in the UK in an array of colours from brown and grey to pink!

1st place: Snails

Snail on tip of oak leaf

© Jon Hawkins

Coming in at number one, the most common sighted invertebrate - is the slug! Slugs and snails are very important. They provide food for all sorts of mammals, birds, slow worms, earthworms, insects and they are part of the natural balance. Upset that balance by removing them and we can do a lot of harm.

For further reading

Do check out How Wild Are We? on our website here. We are excited to develop our citizen science program and watch how Hampshire and the Isle of Wight become wilder in the years to come.

Other organisations have citizen science initiatives, if you want to do more! Check out the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch and Butterfly Conservation's Big Butterfly Count.