An Insect talk and walk led by local Biologist Steve Savage took place on Sunday 26th June at the Harbour Club and on Shoreham Beach Local Nature Reserve as part of celebrations taking place nationwide for National Insect Week which ran from 20-26 June 2016. This free event was part of the programme of educational events sponsored by the Heritage Lottery Grant Awards for All.
The PowerPoint presentation at the Harbour Club discussed the rare vegetated shingle habitat and its special adaptations coupled with an introduction to some of the insects that can be found on the shingle plants and also the importance of pollinators to the shingle plants.
The vegetated shingle is only a partial habitat for insects, as the shingle plants die back and lay dormant for several months of the year. Local gardens, adjacent to the nature reserve are equally important to the invertebrates (especially outside the flowering period of the shingle plants and during bad weather) and also as nesting and hibernation sites for bees. The gardens on Shoreham Beach are an important extension to the nature reserve habitats. The talk concluded with ways everyone can all help these maintain the habitat for these valuable insects.
Also addressed was the impact of invasive species such as Red Valerian and Silver Ragwort and how these plants can entice pollinators to their ‘easy’ nectar source. This can cause the pollinators to ignore the those shingle plants that are a much smaller source of nectar, thus creating the risk for non-fertilization with a potential that such plants may die out on the beach.
Following the talk everyone meet by the Shoreham Fort for an exploration of the shingle plants for insects. Several species of bee where on the wing including red tailed bumble bee, buff/white tailed bumble bee, common carder bee, honey bee and two solitary bee species. Other insects included several garden tiger moth caterpillars, butterfly (small white) several small moths (we disturbed but did not settle in view) 7 spot lady birds, hoverflies, iridescent thick knee flower beetles, juvenile grasshoppers, a small blue damselfly (probably from a garden pond) and a yellow field ant mound in the grass. Not an insect, but other surprise find was a tiny common frog (from this year’s hatching) and a small toad, probably last year’s hatching both of which also probably case from adjacent gardens.
Awareness of the power of insects to keep the flowers on the beach alive and developing is a much needed source of information and FoSB thanks Steve Savage for organising and delivering this event as part of our Educational Programme. Look out for future events, including the Rock Pooling in August