Dagnam Park's beetles, most of these photos by DonTait.

The first two photos are Cardinal beetles. Below that is a Lily beetle for comparison. (This composite photo is from 3 separate unattributed images that I have downloaded from the internet) There are three British species of Cardinal and unusually for insects they are easily identified. The left hand one, Pyrochroa coccinea, has red thorax and abdomen but black head, the right hand photo by Dave Sampson is Pyrochroa serraticornis, its body is all red. The 3rd British species, Schizotus pectinicornis, is a rare northen species and is red with a black head and a black spot in the middle of the thorax. The Pyrochroa species can be up to 17mm, Schizotus is only about half of that.

Two of the British Cardinal beetles are superficially similar to the lily beetle. One of them is easy to separate because it has a red head. The other one has a black head like the Lily beetle. But it is a different shape. In the Lily beetle the wing cases when closed are broadest at the front and get narrower towards the back. The opposite is true in the Cardinals in which the closed wing cases get broader as you get towards the back. Sort of drop shaped. Lily beetles have prominent “square shoulders” and are glossy, Cardinals are dull there are many other differences. Cardinals are harmless and live in dead wood so you will find them around woodland. Lily beetles are serious pests on Lilies, Fritillaries and other plants in the Lily family so they tend to be found in gardens.

                                                                                              Del Smith


A true weevil of the family Curculionidae One of the largest families of animals in the world, over 86.000 species

A very scarce beetle assosciated with fungi This one was photographed on the fungus known as chicken of the woods. It is small 7-8mm long.

A Ground Beetle, Carabidae

A Sexton Beetle (Nicrophorus humator)

The Family Elateridae genus Athous. Known as click beetles. If they fall on their backs after a short while and with an audible click they flick up in the air and with a bit of luck they land the right way up. The mechanism for this is similar to that of those metal clickers that we often found in Christmas crackers. At least we did in the 50s/60s.

Soldier Beetles Rhagonycha fulva occasionally called bloodsuckers or bonking beetles. They don't deserve the former name because they do not suck blood. Their other common name is well deserved and they are often seen on flower heads.

14 Spot Ladybird Propylea quattuordecimpunctata

Harlequin ladybird (Harmonia axyridis) Larvae and adults which are extremely variable. Now well established across England.

The Common Cockchafer (Melolontha melolontha) photographed at the FoDP picnic. The first known record for Dagnam Park though it would have been common at least into the 1940s.


Known as the Wasp Beetle (Clytus orietis) It is harmless and often seen on flower heads in the park. 9-13mm

Carabus violaceus, sometimes called the violet ground beetle, or the rain beetle.

Metallic beetles of the sub family (Donaciinae) can be found on aquatic vegetation

29-3-12. (Ocypus olens) known as the Devil's Coach Horse Beetle

Longhorn Beetle, Rutpela maculata, formerly known as Strangalia maculata.The adults are very variable in colour. The larva tunnel in dead wood.

The Soldier Beetle Cantharis rustica there are several very similar species

Cream Spot Ladybird Calvia quattuordecimguttata

The familiar Seven Spot Ladybird Coccinella septempunctata

True Flies (Diptera) The most well studied insects in the park with over one thousand different species recorded.

The Crane Fly genus Nephrotoma

This is a robber fly called Dioctria rufipes from the true fly family Asilidae. They are agressive predators and this one has captured a small fly.


A Tephritid Fly Anomoia purmunda. The adults often have patterned wings. The larvae of this species attack the fruits of Hawthorn.

Bee fly, Bombylius major, a true fly, the larvae are parasitic on bees.

There are some similar species in the park so pay careful attention to the colour pattern of the thorax and abdomen.

Another wasp mimic a Hoverfly (Episyrphus balteatus) sometimes very numerous. Beneficial as the larve eat aphids. Wing length 6-10mm


This fly belongs to the family Dolichopodidae. It is called Poecilobothrus nobilitatus. This is a male and it uses it's white wing tips to signal to females. It is common in the park, large numbers can often be seen on wet mud.

A Hoverfly Sphaerophoria scripta

This true fly belongs to the family Calliphoridae it includes blue and green bottles. The genus is Pollenia but that is as far as you can go from a photo. The genus has 8 British species all looking much the same, the golden hair is characteristic of the genus. They are parasitic on earthworms and are well known for clustering together in lofts for hibernation. Sometimes called cluster flies.

A Hoverfly, there are over 280 different species in Britain. This one is a member of the genus Platycheirus

A Hoverfly Myathropa florea

Hoverfly Myathropa florea. Alan Shearman

Tachinid Fly (Tachina fera)

A pair of true flies of the genus Sarcophaga. There are many similar species often seen on bare sunny ground. Length up to 16mm.


While we are on flies I thought an old note that I had published years ago may be of interest. The note relates to flies but of course many other insects live in dung. They are all very important not only for breaking down the dung but they also often become food for birds and so the cycle continues. All the flies mentioned in the article are frequent in the park apart from Gasterophilus. ..Del Smith.

Flies and Dung

The only thing that you are sure to find if you walk through the countryside with your eyes shut is dung. And every heap of dung has its residents; on it, in it and under it. On it we will find adult flies, in it larval flies and quite often beneath it fly pupae. The flies that inhabit dung are many and varied and in these brief notes I hope to take the reader on a short visit to the enchanting world of the dung flies.
Dung flies are far more important than you would think. Without them we wouldn't just step in it occasionally, we would be up to our necks in it, and probably beyond. For the dung files do not accumulate on the dung merely for sunbathing, the purpose is far more serious than that. They assemble in pursuit of romance, the aroma calling them in to a lover's tryst. After brief preliminaries, mating takes place and then the female will lay her eggs in the dung and the early stages (the larva or maggot) will feed, consuming the dung with apparent relish. And so the cowpat has been the dance floor, the bedroom, the maternity ward, the restaurant and the kindergarten.
You may well feel that dung is dung and, if you should step in it, well, of course, it is all much of a muchness but if you were to eat it you would soon discern the subtle differences; from the smooth cowpat to the coarse horse dung, through to the rather strongly flavoured badger, dog and fox, right down to the rabbit, and for the delicate palate of some of the smaller flies we have bird droppings
The big furry golden dung fly Scathophaga stercoraria, will be found chiefly on cow dung, but occasionally on deposits of other mammals. Amongst these flies on cow pats you will also find the much smaller black flies that are loathe to take flight, preferring to run into the surrounding grasses. These are called Sphaerocerids, a large family with more than one hundred British species. Many Muscid type flies will also be found, including the very distinctive Mesembrina meridiana, a large shining black fly with orange bases to the wings. All three British biting muscids, including the stable fly, breed in dung. Some small acalypterate flies like the tiny yellow Chryomyid with green eyes, Chryomyia flava , thrive on bird droppings. Obviously these are the connoisseurs of the excreta eaters.
Now apart from those flies whose larvae actually consume the dung, there are, of course, those that consume the consumers. Many of the adult flies seen on the dung will actually have predatory larvae that will spend their larval stage seeking out the dung feeders for their own sustenance.
Mention should be made here of a dung frequenting pupa that finds itself amongst the dung almost by accident. This is the pupa of the internal parasite Gasterophilus which lives in the stomachs of horses as a larva and is excreted at the end of its larval development. It then finds itself deposited unceremoniously from a height of about three feet amongst a small heap of manure. On emergence the adult Gasterophilus leaves the dung never to return.
One could get the wrong idea about flies and dung. In fact only about 5% of our flies are associated with dung. So when you are eating lunch and a fly arrives for it's share remember only one in twenty has dirty feet. Deciding which one is the problem.



The following group of photos are all of Hymenoptera. The group includes all the bees, wasps and ants. These have all been identified by specialists. There are a huge number of different species,  just a few representatives are shown below. Accurate identification can rarely be done from photographs. Microscopical examination is necessary for most species.

Bombus hypnorum

Bombus lucorum

Bombus pratorum

Honey Bee Apis mellifera
A parasitic wasp, some of these are known as ichneumon flies.

A sawfly, the larvae of this group look like moth caterpillars. Some are serious garden pests, the larve eating a variety of plants.


Below a mixture of True Bugs and Leafhoppers,  Homoptera

A true bug Leptoterna ferrugata or dolabrata

A True Bug, The shield bug   Palomena prasina

A True Bug, Plagiognathus arbustorum. Often found on nettles

This is a very close relative of the true bugs from the group often  known as leafhoppers or froghoppers

Squash Bug (Coreus marginatus) Squash bugs are true bugs of the family Coreidae. This species feeds mainly on Docks. 12-14mm.

A true bug (Grypocoris stysi)


Some Insects from smaller orders

Scorpion fly, (below and opposite). Not a true fly but a member of the order Mecoptera. This is the genus Panorpa there are 3 very similar British species.


Meadow Grasshopper (Chorthippus parallelus)

Roesel's Bush Cricket (Metrioptera roeselii)

Meadow Grasshoppers are very variable in colour all three below are the same species. There are several other common species all very similar.

Speckled Bush Cricket Leptophyes punctatissima



Mixture of invertebrates photos from the park, unless otherwise stated they are by Don Tait

Cepaea nemoralis and C. hortensis can be separated by the their distinctly coloured apertural lip. (The edge of the opening) In adult specimens of C. nemoralis the lip is always brown, while that of C. hortensis is white.  C. nemoralis is also larger than C. hortensis. The colours of the shells are extremely variable and they cannot be identified by their shell colours apart from the lip. They are both common species. Identified by Simon Taylor of The Essex Field Club
Cepaea hortensis
Cepaea nemoralis
The mussels below were photographed at the cow pond by Belinda Bearman in August 2019 and in September by Peter Riley. Alan York identified them as Swan Mussels. I sent the pictures to the county mollusc recorder (Simon Taylor) for a comment. Alan's identification is correct and Simon said "Swan Mussels, Anodonta cygnea are our largest freshwater bivalve mollusc and inhabit bodies of still water, so larger ponds and lakes and occasional marginal pools on rivers. Obviously they need to be ponds or lakes which tend not to dry out as the mussels filter feed and are also not equipped to survive any period out of the water. This means the mussels tend to be under-recorded as they lurk undisturbed under the water until the pond is drained or dredged. Even then they often go unreported. In Essex they are pretty much universal in suitable habitats. They take a couple of decades to reach maximum length of about 8". Along with other Unionid freshwater mussels these famously reproduce and disperse by means of an obligate fish parasite larva called a glochidium." For size comparison the jar is a standard jamjar.

Simon Taylor states that this is almost certainly the Leopard slug  Limax maximus but he would need to see the underside to be completely certain.


This section is devoted to Myriaopods (Centipedes and Millipedes) and Isopods (Woodlice) There are a surprising number of British species there being about sixty species of Centipedes and even more Millipedes. The species below have been identified by members of the British Myriapod and Isopod Group (