How to identify moorland wildlife

Bogs, mosses and mires are at their best in June. Here are 6 plants and 6 insects to see on a sunny heathland wander. 

All illustrations by Felicity Rose Cole

All illustrations by Felicity Rose Cole

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1. Large heath butterfly Coenonympha tullia (above)

Local in Scotland, northern England and Wales, and Ireland. Flies June to August; feeds on cross-leaved heath.

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2. Bogbean Menyanthes trifoliata

Mainly in shallow open water. Shiny, three-lobed leaves like those of broad beans; white flowers May to July.

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3. Common lousewort Pedicularis sylvatica

In drier or well-trodden areas. Pink flowers April to September; feathery leaves and inflated seed capsules.

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4. Round-leaved sundew Drosera rotundifolia

Around boggy pools and in areas of wet sphagnum. Covered in red hairs with sticky globules to catch insects.

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5. Bog asphodel Narthecium ossifragum

Damp flushes. Golden, star-shaped flowers from late June to September; leaves resemble those of tiny irises.

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6. Heath spotted orchid Dactylorhiza maculata

Flowers vary from white to deep pink, with a broad lip; appear June to August. Dark-blotched leaves.

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7. Common cottongrass Eriophorum angustifolium

Forms carpets, especially in wetter parts of bogs. A sedge with plumes of white ‘cotton’ to spread its seeds.

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8. Large marsh grasshopper Stethophyma grossum

Southern bogs. Largest grasshopper in UK. Adults sing from late June; the sound is like bubbles popping.

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9. Bog bush-cricket Metrioptera brachyptera

Drier bogs. Bright green patches above and below; long ovipositor in female. Song is a short chirp.

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10. Small red damselfly Ceriagrion tenellum

Local in south, flying low over bogs and streams. Male: unmarked red abdomen; female: black markings.

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11. Raft spider Dolomedes fimbriatus

Pools and ditches. Able to swim and float. Very large (the female’s legs span up to 8cm) with cream stripes.

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12. Heath goldsmith beetle Carabus nitens

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Local in northern England; rarer on southern heaths. Brilliant, jewel-like coloration with ridged wing-cases.