Wiltshire and Swindon Biological Records Centre

ID Guide

August Insects

Summer is well underway and those with a pond in the garden or who are nearer a ditch or wet area can be delighted by some of the following insects as they dance around in the lazy (hopefully) sunny skies. The Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly is a rare one to look out for and is often confused with the much more widespread common Blue-tailed Damselfly. Don't forget to send us in any sightings either via Living Record.


Ruddy Darter, WSBRC/ John Notman
Ruddy Darter - Sympetrum sanguineum
Smaller than the common darter, this dragonfly has black legs and has a “club-shaped” appearance. The male has a red waisted abdomen whilst the female has a yellowish abdomen. It lives primarily in weedy ponds, ditches and woodland. Many of the insects seen in the British Isles are probably immigrants from the continent.
Bue-tailed Damselfly, Rosie Ray/ WSBRC
Blue-tailed damselfly - Ischnura elegans
This insect is abundant around still or slow-moving water. The top of the abdomen is usually black. Segment 8 is usually bright blue in both sexes. Much larger than the Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly and distinguishable by the bright blue which covers the whole of segment 8, which in the Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly only part of this segment is blue.


Mosquito, Muhammad Mahdi Karim
Mosquito - Culex pipiens
The mosquito is probably one of our most maligned insects. Ironically, the most common, Culex pipiens, rarely bites people. It can be distinguished from other species by the white band at the front of each abdominal segment. The last generation of adult females mated before winter. Mated females found refuge in culverts, basements and protected areas that stayed above freezing; over-wintering in a state of torpor. Eggs were laid the following spring.


Pond Skater, Darin Smith/ WWT
Common Pond Skater - Gerris lacustris
This is the commonest and most widespread of several very similar species which “skate” over water. Some individuals have wings and some do not. These insects lie dormant during the winter. With a body length of around 15mm, pond skaters are widespread throughout the British Isles. Its tiny hairs repel water and allow it walk on the surface film – water has a high tensile strength which allows this.


Water Scorpion, Ferran Turmo Gort
Water Scorpion - Nepa cinerea
The water scorpion lives in ponds and stagnant water hiding in weed and grabbing passing food with its pincer-like front legs. It feeds on insects, tadpoles and small fish. Its long tail is a breathing tube allowing it to breathe whilst submerged.





Great Water Boatman, Mark Robinson
Great Water Boatman - Notonecta glauca
The great water boatman is a member of the Notonectidae family – commonly called “backswimmers” because they swim on their back. In fact the great water boatman is also called the common backswimmer. These swimmers swim upside down propelled by two long legs which paddle like oars. They can grow up to a length of 20mm and inhabit ponds, ditches and canals, feasting on tadpoles, small fish and aquatic insects which they kill by stabbing with a feeding tube (rostrum) and injecting toxic saliva.



7 spot ladybird, WWT/Darin Smith
Seven–spot Ladybird - Coccinella septempunctata
Ladybirds are probably the most well known of all British beetles, of which the Seven-spot is the most common. The common name 'ladybird' comes from the Middle Ages in honour of the Virgin Mary who was often shown wearing a red cloak that is symbolised by the red wing cases, the black spots represent her seven joys and seven sorrows. The Seven-spot Ladybird can be found almost anywhere in Wiltshire in a wide variety of habitats including woodlands, hedgerows, meadows and gardens in which it’s a common visitor.





Harlequin Ladybird, Bramble Jungle
Harlequin Ladybird - Harmonia axyridis
The Harlequin Ladybird, originally from Asia, arrived in Britain in 2004. It was introduced in Europe as a biocontrol agent for aphids. They are a serious threat to our native ladybirds as they outcompete them for food, and will even feed on them if food becomes scarce. Find out more about their rapid spread across the UK here.
White Ermine, WWT/ Tony Coultiss
White Ermine - Spilosoma lubricipeda
Related to the more widely known Tiger Moths, this pretty little resident moth is on the wing in late spring/early summer usually at night. It comes readily to light and appears frequently in traps. It is a common species associated with a wide variety of habitats including hedgerows and urban gardens. Both sexes are similar in appearance and despite their name they can vary in colour from white to cream to buff-coloured forewings.
Raft Spider, WSBRC/John Notman
Raft Spider - Dolomedes fimbriatus
The best time to see it is May to August when it is commonly seen in boggy habitats such as swamps where there is permanent open water. Striking pale yellow stripes along either side of its body make the Raft Spider an easily identifiable spider. It is also known as the fishing spider as it hunts from vegetation next to areas of water. It rests its first two legs on the water through which it senses its prey and then pulls it out of the water. Because of its large size it is capable of taking prey such as damselflies and small fish!
Hornet queen, Dean Adams
Hornet - Vespa crabro
The hornet is an impressive insect, and is Britain's largest social wasp. Despite its rather fearsome appearance, it is rarely aggressive; this species has been much maligned and will usually only attack if the colony is threatened.
Speckled Bush-cricket, Gilles san Martin
Speckled Bush-cricket - Leptophyes punctatissima
The Speckled Bush-cricket is a species of bush-cricket common in well vegetated areas such as woodland margins, hedgerows and gardens. The eggs are laid, in late summer, into tree bark or plant stems where they remain over winter. The nymphs emerge in May and June and mature as adult speckled bush crickets by mid August. They are most active at dusk and at night.