London Natural History Society The place for wildlife in London

London Natural History Society - The place for wildlife in London


Garden Spider SQUAREAs the hot weather fades and we start to feel that autumnal chill in the breeze, there is no question that the summer is over.

For the invertebrate recorders among us, that usually means that the peak times for spotting our favourite groups has passed.

However, hope is not lost! There is still time for us to get one last glimpse of many summer species. And if your invertebrate withdrawal still isn’t appeased after that, there are new groups to record that are only just coming into their peak.

You just have to know where to look…

Check out your local ivy patch

Lots of native wild plants have now finished their flowering seasons and so pollen-feeding insects have experienced a population lull. However, it’s not all over yet as the ivy is now coming into bloom, giving flying insects one last boost before the winter descends.

If you take a moment to pause by your local ivy patch, you can spot a rich variety of species. You might see bees (including the stripy ivy bee), wasps, butterflies and lots of different types of fly. Recording schemes of all these groups will be grateful to receive information of your sightings from ivy. These late-season records can help them understand more about the length of different species’ activity periods.

Click here to submit your records of ivy bee and other insects on ivy through the LNHS iRecord activity

Turn over some logs and stones

Millipedes under bark SQUARE
One easy way that you can look for invertebrates in your local area during autumn is turning over logs and stones. Many shade and moisture loving organisms find refuge under such structures and autumn is a really productive time to search these spots.

As the weather cools, the ground becomes less parched and species that were burrowing deep into the soil in search of moisture move closer to the surface.

Don’t worry if you don’t have any rotting logs decorating your garden, why not check under a few pot plants? I’m sure you’ll be surprised by how much you can find.

Common Striped Woodlouse SQUAREWoodlice are great to look out for, hiding away in in nooks and crannies. You will undoubtedly find at least a few of the common ‘famous five’ species – these are:

Common rough woodlouse (Porcellio scaber)
Common shiny woodlouse (Oniscus asellus)
Common striped woodlouse (Philoscia muscorum)
Common pill woodlouse (Armadillidium vulgare)
Common pygmy woodlouse (Trichoniscus pusillus)

Click here to submit Woodlice records through the LNHS iRecord activity

If you enjoy identifying woodlice but are craving more of a challenge, millipedes and centipedes could be for you. These can be a bit trickier to identify than woodlice (you may have to count a few more legs!), but they are sure to be very rewarding once you start learning to recognise them.

Inspect your compost heap

We associate autumn with the decay of leaves and plants back into the soil, and invertebrates are a huge driver of this. Where better to search for decay related invertebrate species than in a designated decomposition station – your local compost heap! Having a prod around in compost can yield plenty of woodlice, centipedes and millipedes as already mentioned. You can also find worms, mites, springtails, beetles and much more. No two compost heaps are the same so you never know exactly what you might find.

The main message is, no matter the time of year, there is always wildlife to record. Beyond the methods mentioned here, just looking around your garden you can still find lots of other active groups including spiders, slugs, and snails. The LNHS recorders are keen to receive your records all year round. Happy autumn bug hunting!


Author: Stephanie Skipp
Date published: 21/09/2020