How to identify wall wildlife

A wall is a miniature cliff to a plant or animal and can offer a range of microclimates. Here are a 12 species for you to look for in August. 


                                                                            Illustrations by Felicity Rose Cole             


1 Red underwing Catocala nupta (above

Wingspan: 65–75mm. Large, well- camouflaged moth; when disturbed flashes red-and-black underwings.

2. Common carpet Epirrhoe alternata

Wingspan: 20–25mm. Small moth with cryptic markings; wings have a dark central band with pale borders.

3. Marbled green Cryphia muralis

Wingspan: 27–34mm. Small moth, camouflaged in greys and greens to blend in with lichens, its larval food.

4. Brown-lipped snail Cepaea nemoralis

Variable patterning, but usually yellowish and brown. Always has a dark edge to shell’s inner opening.

5. Lace weaver spider Amaurobius similis

Body: up to 10mm (female); glossy brown, velvety abdomen. Lacy web surrounds its crevice hideaway.

6. Tube-web spider Segestria florentina

Body: up to 22mm (female); black, with bronzy jaws. Trip-lines radiate from its crevice web. Local in south.

7. Ivy-leaved toadflax Cymbalaria muralis

Tiny flowers and fleshy foliage on trailing stems. After flowering, stalks grow into dark cracks to bury seeds.

8. Yellow corydalis Pseudofumaria lutea

Feathery leaves and sprays of yellow tubular flowers. A protein globule on each seed bribes ants to distribute.

9. Reflexed stonecrop Sedum rupestre

Fleshy leaves and flattish heads of yellow flowers. Can survive in the driest locations on hardly any soil.

10. Grey cushion moss Grimmia pulvinata

Translucent leaf tips give a greyish, woolly appearance when dry. On wall tops and along mortar lines.

11. Anomalous bristle-moss Orthotrichum anomalum

Brown spore capsules are held on stalks above green leaves. On neutral or limey walls, but not acid ones.

12. Salted shield lichen Parmelia saxatilis


Blue-grey fronds in loose rosettes. One of many leafy lichens found on upland walls, especially acid stone.