How to identify moorland wildlife

Bogs, mosses and mires are at their best in June. Here are 6 plants and 6 insects to see on a sunny heathland wander. 

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Large heath butterfly
All illustrations by Felicity Rose Cole

 

1. Large heath butterfly Coenonympha tullia (above)

Local in Scotland, northern England and Wales, and Ireland. Flies June to August; feeds on cross-leaved heath.

 

 

2. Bogbean Menyanthes trifoliata

Mainly in shallow open water. Shiny, three-lobed leaves like those of broad beans; white flowers May to July.

 

 

3. Common lousewort Pedicularis sylvatica

In drier or well-trodden areas. Pink flowers April to September; feathery leaves and inflated seed capsules.

 

 

4. Round-leaved sundew Drosera rotundifolia

Around boggy pools and in areas of wet sphagnum. Covered in red hairs with sticky globules to catch insects. 

 

 

5. Bog asphodel Narthecium ossifragum

Damp flushes. Golden, star-shaped flowers from late June to September; leaves resemble those of tiny irises.

 

 

6. Heath spotted orchid Dactylorhiza maculata

Flowers vary from white to deep pink, with a broad lip; appear June to August. Dark-blotched leaves.

 

 

7. Common cottongrass Eriophorum angustifolium

Forms carpets, especially in wetter parts of bogs. A sedge with plumes of white ‘cotton’ to spread its seeds.

 

 

8. Large marsh grasshopper Stethophyma grossum

Southern bogs. Largest grasshopper in UK. Adults sing from late June; the sound is like bubbles popping.

 

 

9. Bog bush-cricket Metrioptera brachyptera

Drier bogs. Bright green patches above and below; long ovipositor in female. Song is a short chirp.

 

 

10. Small red damselfly Ceriagrion tenellum

Local in south, flying low over bogs and streams. Male: unmarked red abdomen; female: black markings.

 

 

11. Raft spider Dolomedes fimbriatus

Pools and ditches. Able to swim and float. Very large (the female’s legs span up to 8cm) with cream stripes.

 

 

12. Heath goldsmith beetle Carabus nitens

Local in northern England; rarer on southern heaths. Brilliant, jewel-like coloration with ridged wing-cases.

 

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