How to identify insects and invertebrates under logs

Use our ID guide to identify invertebrates living under logs and stones.

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A variety of insects and other invertebrates take refuge under logs and stones, safe from large predators, or damaging frosts in winter. Turn one over briefly and discover a tiny new world.

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All illustrations by Felicity Rose Cole

Violet ground beetle (Carabus violaceus, above)

20–30mm. Large beetle with purple wingcase borders. Feeds on worms and other soft-bodied invertebrates.

Woodlouse spider (Dysdera crocata)

9–15mm long. Found most frequently in southern England. Its huge orange jaws pierce woodlouse armour.

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Buzzing snail-hunter (Cychrus caraboides)

15–20mm. Long ‘snout’ probes snail shells. Also eats wide range of soft-bodied prey. Buzzes when handled.

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Ground beetle (Abax parallelepipedus)

17–22mm. Black beetle with grooved wingcases. Eats earthworms and other soft-bodied invertebrates.

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Carrion beetle (Silpha atrata)

10–15mm. Mat-black beetle with broad wingcases. Feeds on snails and a wide variety of carrion.

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Devil’s coach-horse (Ocypus olens)

20–30mm. Black rove beetle with short wingcases. Raises tail when threatened. Eats slugs.

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Common black millipede (Tachypodoiulus niger)

Up to 30mm. Coils when disturbed. Body has 30–60 segments. Feeds on decaying matter and fungi.

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Flat-backed millipede (Polydesmus angustus)

Up to 25mm. Brownish, winged segments; appears flatter than black millipede. Often found under bark.

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Common pill woodlouse (Armadillidium vulgare)

Up to 18mm. Found especially on limy soils. Similar pill millipede has more than seven pairs of legs.

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Common striped woodlouse (Philoscia muscorum)

Up to 11mm. Fast-moving. Grey, brown or even orange, often with dark stripe.

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Garlic snail (Oxychilus alliarius)

6–8mm. Translucent, shiny, pale-brown shell, dark grey body. Emits strong garlic smell when disturbed.

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Great grey slug (Limax maximus)

Very large slug, up to 20cm. Body dark grey, with paler blotches and stripes – hence alternative name of leopard slug.

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