Identification of UK insect

Identification of UK insect

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We found this in our UK garden! Any ideas? Not sure if it had/has wings.

It has a segmented tail and 6 legs. It's about 2 inches/ 8cm long.

That looks like the cast off outer layer of a dragon fly nymph§:

The following resources may be helpful to get a more precise identification:

§Note: As pointed out by Arthur J. Frost this is actually the exoskeleton left behind when a dragonfly nymph molted and became an adult.

indeed -Exuvieae of a Anisopera dragonfly.

Identify nature

Have you found a strange bug or a new plant in your garden, or stumbled across an intriguing animal bone or fossil while out on a country walk? Let us help you find out more about it.

You can use our downloadable guides and mobile apps to identify UK plants and animals and learn more about them.

If you need more help, then our dedicated team at the Museum's Identification and Advisory Service can answer your queries about insects, fossils, plants and other wildlife and natural history specimens found in the UK.

Commercial enquiries

If your business requires advice or an identification of an object from the natural world (such as an insect, tooth, pest ID or CITES identification etc.) please contact our commercial service.

Which butterflies am I likely to see in my garden?

The following butterflies are some of the common species spotted in gardens. An overcast day is a particularly good time to see them up close because they won't be as active and stay still for longer!


Description: Deep-red with black marks and blue 'eyespots' (like a peacock’s tail feathers) on the forewings and hindwings.

When: January-December

Red Admiral ©Guy Edwardes/2020VISION

Red admiral

Description: Black with broad, red stripes on the hindwings and forewings, and white spots near the tips of the forewings.

When: January-December

Painted Lady ©Scott Petrek

Painted lady

Description: Orange with black tips to the forewings that are adorned with white spots, and black spots on the hindwings and forewings.

When: April-October

Small Tortoiseshell ©Scott Petrek

Small tortoiseshell

Description: Reddish-orange with black and yellow markings on the forewings and a ring of blue spots around the edge of the wings.

When: January-December

Large white

Description: White with prominent black tips to the forewings. Females have two black spots and a dash on each forewing. Plain, creamy-yellow underside.

When: April-October

Small white

Description: White with light grey tips to the forewings. Females have one or two black spots on each forewing. Plain, creamy-yellow underside.

When: April-October

Green-veined white

Description: White with grey-black tips and one or two black spots on the forewings. Thick, grey-green stripes on the underside.

When: April-October


Description: Males are white with bold orange patches on the forewings and light grey wingtips. Females are white with grey-black wingtips. Both have mottled grey-green undersides.

When: April-July

Meadow Brown ©David Longshaw

Meadow brown

Description: Brown with washed-out orange patches on the forewings. One black eyespot with a small white ‘pupil’ on each forewing.

When: June-September

Small copper

Description: Bright orange forewings with dark brown spots and a thick, dark brown margin. Dark brown hindwings, banded with orange.

When: April-October

Holly blue

Description: Bright blue with black spots on its silvery underside. Females have black wing edges.

When: April-September

Female Common Blue ©Amy Lewis

Description: Males have bright blue wings with a brown border and white fringe. Females are brown with a blue 'dusting'. Both have orange spots on their undersides.

When: May-October

Garden tiger moth ©Margaret Holland

Why Outsource Microbial Identification?

We have an expert team of microbiologists specialising in microbial identification testing using biochemical techniques alongside the newest technology. Outsourcing identification to Wickham Laboratories means that you get a quick and accurate result without the burden of high labour and the costs associated with ongoing maintenance and validation of the equipment required for these services.

More information on MALDI-ToF can be found via our application note on ‘MALDI-ToF as a Valid Alternative for Microbial Identification‘. Over the past year we have also produced a variety of microbial facts sheets on a number of organisms, which can all be identified using MALDI-ToF. All of these fact sheets can be found in our Resource Centre.

If you would like to discuss your microbial identification requirements or any of our other services in further detail, please call us on +44 (0)1329 226600 or get in touch with us online by filling out a contact form on.

Facts about bugs

1) A ladybird might eat more than 5,000 insects in its lifetime!

2) Fruit flies were the first living creatures to be sent into space.

3) Dragonflies have been on earth for 300 million years!

4) A bee’s wings beat 190 times a second, that’s 11,400 times a minute.

5) The stag beetle is the largest species of insect to be found in the UK.

6) Caterpillars have 12 eyes!

7) One dung beetle can drag 1,141 times its weight – that’s like a human pulling six double-decker buses!

8) A single honeybee colony can produce around 100kg of honey each year – that’s 220 jars!

9) An ant-eating assassin bug piles its victims onto its body to scare predators.

10) Large groups of fireflies sometimes flash in unison.

11) To breathe underwater, the water scorpion uses a snorkel-like tube on its abdomen.

Did you know that we have a FREE downloadable ‘Make a bug hotel’ primary resource? Great for teachers, homeschoolers and parents alike!

12) There are 36 species of dragonfly found in the UK.

13) Bulldog ants can leap seven times the length of their bodies!

14) Mosquitos are attracted to smelly feet!

15) Some male stoneflies do push-ups to attract a mate.

16) Butterflies taste with their feet.

17) Grasshoppers have special organs in their hind legs that store energy for jumping.

18) A hornet’s favourite food is a…bee!

19) The red postman butterfly develops its own poison by eating toxic plants!

20) A sea skater’s leg hair traps air, enabling it to float on water.

21) Grasshoppers existed before dinosaurs!

22) A ladybird might eat more than 5,000 insects in its lifetime

23) Damselflies have been on earth for more than 300 million years

24) Greater water boatmen breathe through their bottom!

25) Male giraffe weevils use their long necks to fight each other.

Photos: Getty Images UK.

Identification of UK insect - Biology

Fir Broom Rust
Melampsorella caryophyllacearum J. Schröt .

Hosts: White and subalpine fir, with chickweeds and alternate hosts.

Spruce Broom Rust
Chrysomyxa arctostaphyli Dietel

Hosts: Engelmann and blue spruce, with bearberry and kinnikinnick as alternate hosts.

Symptoms/Signs: Both of these diseases appear very similar on their respective hosts. The yellow to pale green brooms are dense and compact. Stem or branch swellings may also occur near the point of infection.

Biology: Windblown spores produced on an alternate host are needed to start new infections on trees. Once a tree is infected, the fungus stimulates bud formation, leading to broom development. The brooms shed their needles in the winter and grow new ones in the spring.

Figure 232. Expanding foliage is pale green.

Effects: Broom rusts can be found throughout much of the Southwest on their respective hosts. They typically occur at low levels, but are abundant in some locations. Infection typically results in deformity, which is most significant on young trees. Stem infections sometimes result in topkill and/or stem breakage.

Similar Diseases: Broom rusts are sometimes mistaken for dwarf mistletoe witches’ brooms. However, the former are more dense and compact and lack mistletoe shoots. Dwarf mistletoes of true firs and spruces have very limited distributions in the Southwest.

Identification of UK insect - Biology

Both the two above species are included on the same page because of the similarity of habitat and identification, the latter being the main problem. Hence both beetles are here for comparison.

Both the confused and red flour beetles, known as "bran bugs," primarily attack milled grain products, such as flour and cereals. Both adults and larvae feed on grain dust and broken kernels, but not the undamaged whole grain kernels. These beetles often hitchhike into the home in infested flour and can multiply into large populations. Some survive on food accumulations in cabinet cracks, crevices, and furniture. Confused flour beetles are the most abundant and injurious insect pest of flour mills in the U.Kingdom, United States and Australia. They do not bite or sting humans or pets, spread disease, or feed on or damage the house or furniture.

In addition to milled grain products, beetle specimens have been found in barley, breakfast cereals, corn, cornmeal, crackers, flour, millet, oats, rice, rye, wheat and wheat bran, nutmeats, dried fruits, legume seeds, beans, milk chocolate, cottonseed, peas, powdered milk, sunflower seeds, vetch seeds, spices, herbarium and museum specimens, and even baits poisoned with arsenic's. It is particularly injurious in warehouses and in factories making starch products. Flour infested by the larvae has a greyish colour and a tendency to go mouldy.


Both the confused and red flour beetles are similar in appearance. They measure about 1/10 to 1/8 inch long and are flat, shiny, reddish-brown, and elongated. Antennae segments of the confused flour beetle increase in size gradually from the base to the tip to form a club of four segments in the red flour beetle, the last three segments at the tip of the antennae are abruptly larger than the preceding ones, forming a three-segmented club (this is evident looking at the two pictures above). Also, the confused flour beetle has a straight-sided thorax, while the thorax of the red flour beetle has curved sides. The sides of the confused flour beetle head capsule are notched at the eyes so that a visible ridge is present. This ridge is absent in the red flour beetle. When viewed from below. The eyes of the red flour beetle are separated by less than two eye diameters while those of the confused flour beetle are separated by more than three eye diameters. Red flour beetles fly but confused flour beetles do not.

Not usually able to chew through the outer coating of grain unless the moisture content is above 12 percent. However, other grain-feeding insects and mechanical harvesting injury provide a source of cracked kernels and dust food for them. The adults have glands on the abdomen and thorax which release a pungent gas when the insects are irritated. This, in turn, may produce a very undesirable odour in the grain. Contamination also occurs from the accumulation of dead bodies and waste products.

The eggs, larvae, and pupae are similar in both beetles. Eggs are whitish or colourless and microscopic in size, with food particles adhering to the sticky surface. Brown-headed larvae are cream to yellow, slender, and wiry, reaching a length of 1/4 inch (see picture below of beetles and larvae in flour). Larvae have six legs and two-pointed or forked projections at the last rear body segment. Pupae are white to light brown.

Life Cycle:

This is a very prolific species. Both beetles breed in damaged grain, grain dust, high-moisture wheat kernels, flour, etc. Female beetles each lay 300 to 400 eggs in flour or other foods during a period of five to eight months (two to three eggs per day). Within 5 to 12 days, these eggs hatch into slender, cylindrical, white larvae tinged with yellow. The length of the larval period varies from 22 to more than 100 days the pupal period is about 8 days. Fully grown larvae transform to naked pupae, and in a week adults emerge. The life cycle requires 7 to 12 weeks, with adults living for 3 years or more. Ideally this type of beetle prefers temperatures of ca. 30°C and will not develop or breed at temperatures lower than 18°C.


Usually the most simple and effective control measure is to locate the source of infestation and quickly get rid of it. Dispose of heavily infested foods in wrapped, heavy plastic bags or in sealed containers and leave for garbage disposal service. If you detect these beetles early, disposal alone may solve the problem.

Careful sanitation is the best method to avoid any stored-product pests. After removing all food, food packages, utensils, dishes, etc. from the cupboard, shelves, or storage area, use a strong suction vacuum cleaner with proper attachments to clean all spilled foods (flour,rice, toaster crumbs, bits of pet food, raisins, etc.) from the cracks and crevices, behind, under, and in appliances and furniture. Scrub with soap and hot water. After shelves are thoroughly dry, cover with clean, fresh paper or foil before replacing with food (which is free from infestation) or cooking utensils.

In the case of industrial problems e.g. food factories, grain silos, bulk flour stores etc., as well as carrying out the procedures above, which should be an on-going task anyway, fumigation may have to be considered. This can be a costly procedure, but if the calculations show that it is cheaper to fumigate and still be able to use the grain after screening, rather than just throw the whole lot away, which, let's face it, is a waste, then it could be the way to go.

Managers should be aware of the hidden places which are not always cleaned or serviced such as, hard to get at parts of machinary, if there are augers in use there could well be a build up in the boxing around the auger itself, in fact any dead space which can be quite easily forgotten about is a prime target for this type of pest and once they get a hold there is a lot of money involved.

Make sure that your pest controller is doing their job correctly, and not just wandering on site, checking a few rodent boxes and wandering off site again.

Ideally you may need a consultant like myself to do a half yearly inspection. That way you will get an independant assessment of the site as it stands at that point in time.


Back to main Stored Product Insect page

Freshwater Insect Identification Course

This course aims to take larval mayfly, stonefly and caddisfly identification to species using professional keys. These groups are often significant in monitoring water quality. The course should appeal to anyone with an interest in improving their invertebrate identification techniques. For more information email [email protected]

The cost of the course is £100. A 20% discount applies to current students on production of appropriate documentation. Advance booking is required. To book visit the EHU Online Store. Edge Hill University is based in the North-west of England in a modern campus close with excellent transport connections. It is easily reached by road and rail – see map. Accommodation is available on campus.

Course may be cancelled up to 3 weeks before it is due to run dependent on numbers. Payment is required before attendance.

Dr Steve Compton

My main study system over the years has been fig trees and their associated animals, particularly the fig wasps that pollinate them. This has taken me to the Namib Desert (to study long distance pollen flow) to the volcanic island of Anak Krakatoa in Indonesia (to study how rainforest recolonisation is speeded up by the animals that feed on figs and disperse seeds) and to Hyde Park in Leeds, where our 'captive' population of fig trees and fig wasps is the only such facility world wide.

Our conservation studies have centred on rare UK beetles, including the unique situation on Lundy in the Bristol Channel, where an endemic plant is host to two beetles known from nowhere else.

The potential role of hybridisation in the evolution of fig trees and their pollinators is one of our current research themes, along with studies of the mechanics of how these small wasps manage to use their very long ovipositors.

Funding sources have included English Nature, BBSRC and NERC

Rainforest regeneration, gene flow in fig trees, insect and plant conservation

Previously a lecturer at Rhodes University in South Africa.

Research interests

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


Professional memberships

Student education

The Diversity of Life Terrestrial Ecology and Behaviour Field Course Marine Zoology Field Course Level 3 Field Course (South Africa), Masters: Habitat Management Practical Conservation with the National Trust Plant Identification Insect Identification Skills.

Studentship information

Undergraduate project topics:

  • Seed dispersal
  • pollination biology
  • rainforest regeneration
  • sex ratio evolution using fig wasps
  • long distance gene flow
  • conservation of beetles, plants and tailed amphibians
  • altitudinal variation in communities
  • trade in endangered species

Postgraduate studentship areas:

See also:

Modules managed

BLGY5116M - Habitat Management
BLGY5131M - Practical Conservation with the National Trust
BLGY5163M - Plant Identification
BLGY5166M - Insect Identification Skills

Modules taught

BLGY1124/1128 - The Diversity of Life/Living Planet
BLGY1125 - Biology Practicals and Data Analysis
BLGY1128 - Living Planet
BLGY1303 - Tutorials for Biology and Genetics
BLGY2253 - Animals as Pests
BLGY2301 - Research Experience and Skills Level 2
BLGY2321 - Marine Zoology Field Course
BLGY3021/3396 - BLGY projects
BLGY3300 - Level 3 Field Course (South Africa)
BLGY3345 - Biology Integrated Research Projects

BLGY5107M - Biodiversity and Conservation Skills I
BLGY5116M - Habitat Management
BLGY5131M - Practical Conservation with the National Trust
BLGY5163M - Plant Identification
BLGY5166M - Insect Identification Skills
BLGY5191M - Biodiversity and Conservation MSc and MRes Summer Project

Customer Reviews

"It is the strength of this book that all of these areas are covered by the twenty-two contributors. Although treatment of the subject is necessarily multi-disciplinary, the book as a whole is balanced and successfully integrated. All authors have provided valuable scene-setting introductions to their chapters, and throughout there are statements about what is not known as well as on what is known. This book will be both a valuable reference and a useful guide to topics for future research it is also an interesting and enjoyable read."
&ndash R.R. Askew, Annals of Botany, 71, 1993

"This wide-ranging and stimulating volume brings together contributions from many of the leading researchers in the field of cecidology [. ] lively and interesting book [. ] strongly recommended as being good value and the best treatment of its kind available."
&ndash I.F.G. McLean, British Journal of Entomology and Natural History, Vol. 6, Part I, April 1993

"The intetions of the editors to take an overview of cecidology and illustrate the multidisciplinary nature of gall studies were realized in this informative and comprehensive book [. ] the book, representing the recent state of research, can be recommended not only to all specialists in the field but to all interested in insect-plant relationships."
&ndash Claus Zebitz, Hohenheim, Journal of Plant Physiology, Vol. 142 (1993)

"The book contains an abundance of information. The text is easy to read and in parts gripping and can easily be used as a basis for lectures. It is supplemented by some very informative graphic representations and numerous photographs [. ] The price of £65 corresponds to the norm for scientific literature and is appropriate for the extent and quality of the book."
&ndash Schriftleitung Zeitschrift fur Pflanzenkrankheiten und Pflanzenschutz

Watch the video: Can you observe sensation without identifying with it? J. Krishnamurti (June 2022).


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