Discovering Diptera: Flies Under the Microscope

Hoverflies, horseflies, houseflies, fruit flies, soldierflies, bee-flies, craneflies, greenbottles, mosquitoes and more: flies are all around us, but are often overlooked or even actively discouraged. In fact the true flies, or Diptera, are one of the most species-rich orders of insect in the UK, with over 7,000 species to choose from.

This day course will provide an introduction to the Diptera, getting familiar with some of the major families and with a focus on some of the larger and more colourful species in the hoverfly, soldierfly, robberfly and related families. The course will be mostly based in the classroom, using microscopes and specimens to learn how to identify the different groups. We will also spend a short time outside searching for winter flies. This course is suitable for beginners with an interest in insects, as well as countryside professionals (but please note that we will be working with dead specimens, which are essential for identification in many cases).

Site Assessment Using Invertebrates

A course designed to help students develop higher level skills in the interpretation of invertebrate survey data. The role of standardised sampling protocols will be explored through fieldwork and through team work a set of accurate species determinations will be obtained. for analysis and interpretation. Analysis by a variety of different techniques (including species richness, Wetscore, SQI, and PANTHEON including ISIS) will be discussed to demonstrate the strengths and weaknesses of each technique. The relevance of population size, indicator species, habitat fidelity and species assemblages in assessing an invertebrate fauna will be discussed.

This course can be taken as part of the MSc in Biological Recording run by Manchester Metropolitan University

Entomology – Techniques to Find and Identify Insects

Rose Chafer on the Devon coast
Rose Chafer on the Devon coast

Insects are fascinating creatures: many are attractive, and have fascinating life histories and behaviour. They also play important roles in ecosystems, for example in pollinating plants and providing food for birds, making the decline of many insect species a cause for concern.

Slapton is an ideal location for seeing and learning about insects. The wide variety of habitats – woodland, reedbed, maritime grassland and coastal cliffs – will allow us to study a range of species, from habitat specialists to generalists, in some beautiful locations.

The focus will be on terrestrial insect groups, and we’ll aim to identify everything we find to Order, most to Family, many to Genus and quite a lot to Species level! We will demonstrate why, when and how to collect and curate insect specimens for identification and will also explore the options for photographing and identifying live insects.

Identifying Difficult Invertebrates

This invertebrate identification course is designed to help students develop higher level skills in the identification of invertebrate species. Sampling techniques will be discussed but the main emphasis will be on the collection, preparation, identification and curation of invertebrate specimens. Participants will be expected to select a suitable taxonomic group in which they will start to specialise by building up a reference collection of specimens.

This course can be taken as part of the MSc Biological Recording jointly with Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU).

 

Get To Know Butterflies and Moths

Butterflies and moths are beautiful and fascinating creatures, and good indicators of the health of the environment. This course provides an introduction to butterfly and moth natural history, identification and conservation, using a mix of indoor activities and presentations, plus field work in the varied habitats at Bishops Wood.

The course will help you understand how butterflies and moths use their habitats, and how you can find and identify them. We will also look at the opportunities for conserving these species in gardens and parks, and how to get involved with recording and monitoring them.

Bees, Hoverflies and Flowers: Pollinators and Pollination

Bees, hoverflies and other pollinating insects play an enormously important role in natural habitats and agricultural systems alike. Some pollinators are known to be declining, and their conservation is a cause for concern. This course introduces the insects that play a role in pollination, helping you to recognise them, understand how they interact with flowering plants, and find out how to play your part in conserving them.

This course introduces a range of pollinating insects, including the variety of different bees and hoverflies: how to find them, how to recognise them and what their role is in pollination. We’ll be able to explore the rich flower meadows and hedgerows of Bushy Park. A number of projects have been set up recently to help record and conserve pollinators, and you’ll be able to find out how to take part in these.

Bees, Hoverflies and Flowers: Pollinators and Pollination

Bees, hoverflies and other pollinating insects play an enormously important role in natural habitats and agricultural systems alike. Some pollinators are known to be declining and their conservation is a cause for concern. This course introduces the insects that play a role in pollination, helping you to recognise them, understand how they interact with flowering plants and find out how to play your part in conserving them.

Developing your Skills in Entomology

FSC course participants studying flower meadow insects
FSC course participants studying flower meadow insects

Insects are fascinating creatures: many are attractive, and have amazing life histories and behaviour. They also play important roles in ecosystems, for example in pollinating plants and providing food for birds, making the decline of many insect species a cause for concern. Using a mix of field work, microscopes and identification keys this course will explore the huge variety of insects. We’ll help you find and identify insects, and explore their ecology and conservation.

We’ll aim to identify everything we find to Order, most to Family, many to Genus and quite a lot to Species level! Guidance will be given on why, when and how to collect and curate insect specimens for identification, and we will also explore the options for photographing and identifying live insects.

Bees, Hoverflies and Flowers: Pollinators and Pollination

Bees, hoverflies and other pollinating insects play an enormously important role in natural habitats and agricultural systems alike. Some pollinators are known to be declining, and their conservation is a cause for concern. This course introduces the insects that play a role in pollination, helping you to recognise them, understand how they interact with flowering plants, and find out how to play your part in conserving them.

Spring Moths for Beginners

This one day course provides an introduction to moths; their identification, natural history and conservation. There is a good range of species to be found in spring, allowing you to get familiar with the main groups and learn about how to find and identify them before the busy summer season takes off.

Note the 2pm start time, and the late finish that will allow us to run light-traps to attract moths among the ancient trees of Epping Forest.

Lesser Swallow Prominent – one of many attractive moths that fly in spring