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Experts ready for insect invasion insect.

Byline: Amanda Brown

As summer temperatures rise, experts are preparing for a flood of phone calls from people, puzzled by an invasion of exotic insects in their gardens.

Entomologists at Bristol Zoo Gardens know that although Britons are keen gardeners, they are fairly ignorant about the dazzling array of insects that emerge from the shrubbery during a heatwave.

These range from the colourful British crab spider nestling in flower blooms to the busy Hummingbird hawk-moth swooping across the lawn at dusk.

Gardeners could also find the rose chafer and the elephant hawk-moth hovering amongst their prized flowers.

Often mistaken for a hummingbird and found in parks and gardens, the hawk-moth hovers in front of flowers, sipping the nectar with its long proboscis.

The rose chafer, usually iridescent metallic green but sometimes bronze or bluish black with coppery red underneath, is often found nibbling various blooms, especially roses.

The elephant hawk-moth gets its name from both its size and the caterpillar's fanciful resemblance to an elephant's trunk.

Adults are brightly coloured in pink and green and feed mainly on honeysuckle.

Between June and August the UK's largest resident hawk-moth, the privet hawk-moth, and the sabre wasp can surprise walkers and ramblers in woodland areas with their striking features.

The huge hawk-moth has distinctive pink and black stripes on its body, while the sabre wasp, with its strong colours and distinctive spikes, leads people to assume that they are venomous.

Other invertebrates that regularly startle both city and country gardeners alike include the great grey or leopard slug, a large spotted slug or the giant horntail, which gets its name from the long, pointed tube at its rear, commonly mistaken for a sting.

The crab spider, holy cross or garden spider and the woodlouse spider also surprise passers-by with their appearance, a distinctive black or ginger colour and webs of up to 18ins in diameter.

Warren Spencer, head of Invertebrates at Bristol Zoo Gardens, said at the start of National Insect Week: 'The next two to three months will see a sequence of species emerging which people will claim never to have seen before in their lives, such as the dramatic privet hawk-moth, Britain's largest resident hawk-moth, which people claim as foreign invaders.

'The British crab spider will make its presence felt too. It's not surprising that people are confused because this particular spider is a flower mimic and it can be white, yellow, yellow and white or yellow, pink and white.'


The UK's largest resident hawk-moth, the privet hawk-moth
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jun 14, 2004
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