Bug Hunting for Grown Ups! How the tiny critters at White Horse, Uffington tell us a big story

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One day I can be on a salt marsh, another day in an ancient woodland and then I can be on top of a mountain and every single place you go to, you find something different. You nearly always find something unexpected, and that’s the joy of it. We’re here to update the last biological survey that was conducted about 15 years ago and we revisit National Trust properties about every 12 to 15 years to assess their condition for wildlife, what things are going right, what things are going wrong, and what sort of things the National Trust should be thinking about when it comes to land management and enhancing the site for wildlife. We use various techniques, we use a net to swish through the vegetation which picks up insects and other invertebrates on the vegetation. And we use a garden suction leaf-blower to suck the bugs and beetles and things out of the grass Sometimes we use various trapping techniques, so there’s a range of techniques that we use. Uffington is important, it’s one of the best chalk grassland sites in Oxfordshire. What we’re looking for is a chalk grassland site with species rich in plants and insects there are a number of quite scarce things that have been known from here so we’re looking for those today. Some of them we’ve already found. There are some snails, for example, that are specific to chalk grasslands and are actually quite sensitive about levels of grazing. And we’ve found two of the ones that are good indicators of habitat quality today. There are various bees that we’re looking for there are some rare orchids that have been found here in the past which we’ll be looking for Musk orchid and Frog orchid. There is an abundance of Common-Spotted, Pyramidal and Fragrant orchids at the moment but we’ll keep looking for the other ones. So there’s a wide range of things we look for which we call ‘indicator species’ which tell us about the quality of the place and help us to assess it’s potential of what we can do better for the future.

 

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