Keep your eyes peeled this spring…

Friday 14th April 2023

…blog by Andrew Whitehouse, Buglife Head of Operations

Spring is a magical time of year.  The days lengthen, and the weather begins to warm up.  This is also a time when many insect species emerge.  Having spent the winter as adults, pupae, larvae or eggs, they are ready to take advantage of the new growth and warmer temperatures.

In this blog, we will explore some of the insects to look out for during spring.

Spotting your first butterfly is one of the true signs of spring.

The first species to emerge are often Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) and Peacock (Aglais io) butterflies (pictured above), both of which can be seen flying on sunny days in March and April. As the weather warms up, other species begin to emerge, including the Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni), Orange-tip (Anthocharis cardamines), and Comma (Polygonia c-album) butterflies.

7-spot Ladybird (Coccinella septempunctata) © Jon Mold
7-spot Ladybird (Coccinella septempunctata) © Jon Mold

Spring is a crucial time for many of our wild bee species. Bumblebees are one of the most common species seen in spring, with queens emerging from hibernation to search for nest sites and begin building their colonies. Many of our solitary bees are active in Spring – look out for Ashy Mining Bees (Andrena cineraria) digging burrows in short turf and foraging on Hawthorn and Blackthorn blossom.

Ladybirds are a common sight in our gardens and parks during spring.  These colourful beetles emerge to feed on aphids and other small insects.  The Seven-spot Ladybird (Coccinella septempunctata) is our most common species, but there are also many others to look out for, including the Two-spot (Adalia bipunctata) and Harlequin (Harmonia axyridis) Ladybirds.

While many people associate moths with summer evenings, there are several species that can be seen in the UK during spring. The Common Quaker moth (Orthosia cerasi) is one of the first to emerge, flying from March to May.  The Hebrew Character moth (Orthosia gothica) is another common species, with adults emerging in early spring, having spent the winter underground as a pupa in a cocoon.

Hoverflies are important pollinators, with adults feeding on nectar and pollen from a wide range of flowers. There are several species that can be seen during spring, including the Marmalade Hoverfly (Episyrphus balteatus) and the Drone Fly (Eristalis tenax).

Hawthorn Shieldbugs (Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale) © Bob Gibbons
Hawthorn Shieldbugs (Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale) © Bob Gibbons

Shieldbugs, can be spotted basking in the spring sunshine. Hawthorn Shieldbugs (Acanthosoma haemorrhoidale) emerge as adults in March and April to mate. Hawthorn Shieldbugs have a shield-shaped body with distinctive pointy “shoulders”.

Spring is a fantastic time to explore the natural world and discover the many insect species that emerge at this time of year.  From butterflies and bees to ladybirds and shieldbugs, there is a wealth of fascinating creatures to discover.  So, next time you’re out and about, keep an eye out for these amazing insects and take the time to appreciate the wonder of spring bugs!