The Wildlife Information Centre

Biological data for south-east and part of central Scotland

A hoverfly (Myathropa florea)
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How many animals live on a site?

When you visit a site have you ever wondered how many types of animal are living there? A two-day event organised jointly between the Lothian Wildlife Information Centre and the Midlothian Ranger Service has taken place to find out just that at Springfield Mill, near Polton.

If you are trying to find out how many different species live somewhere you can almost disregard the birds and mammals, their numbers are trivial compared to another group the invertebrates (insect groups, spiders, centipedes, woodlice etc.). To find the greatest variety of species you need to look at different times of the year the first visit to Springfield Mill was on 2nd June (to find the spring/early summer species), the second on 25th August (for late summer/early autumn species).

To find invertebrates you need the right equipment and plenty of helpers to use the equipment. These events were so successful because everyone who attended was so enthusiastic about joining in the hunt. For most it was a new experience using beating trays, sweep nets, butterfly nets and sieves and everyone was fascinated by the rich diversity of creatures that they caught (these included flies, moths, bees, ants, mayflies, stoneflies, beetles, barkflies, harvestmen, snails etc.). All the specimens caught were carefully labelled, sorted into the different groups (a later office job) and are now being shipped off to experts for identification.

The result, when all the species have been identified, will be a much greater knowledge of an interesting and little known site. Even more importantly there is now a group of people who have been bitten by the bug and are keen to be involved in future studies of these fascinating creatures. Many thanks to everyone who took part.

Pebble Hooktip (Drepana falcataria)

TWIC is a company limited by guarantee - registered in Scotland No. SC234339. A recognised Scottish Charity SC034113. TWIC acknowledges financial support from Scottish Natural Heritage.