Moths, Butterflies and Insects

Did you know ....

Marvellous Moths 

That almost a third of the UK’s species of moths have been recorded at Hengistbury Head. This is due to the vast amount of different places avaiable to them too bread.


Mint moth

Beautiful Butterflies


The Hengistbury Head Buttefly Census annual report outlines the wide variety of butterflies that can be found on the nature reserve - just like the beautiful peacock butterfly pictured above.

Take a look at our latest wildlife reports.

Spectacular insects

Did you know that Bournemouth is a national hotspot for stag beetles, the largest British beetle and a rare sight or even absent from much of the country.

Males may reach a length of 7cm and will fly out to look for a mate at dusk on humid evenings between May and August. Females can also fly but rarely do so. Instead they release pheromones to attract males to them.

Male stag beetles have large mandibles (jaws) that look a bit like the antlers of a deer, hence its name.They use their antlers to wrestle other males during the mating season. They try to grab each other and the winner throws the loser to the ground.

Most stag beetles live for only a few weeks after emerging as an adult, but a few can survive the winter if they find somewhere warm to live, like a compost heap.

Stag beetles have a long life cycle, lasting up to seven years from egg to adult. Most of this time is spent as a large, white larva which feeds on rotting wood.


Some old names for the stag beetle (picture above) include; billywitch, oak-ox, thunder-beetle and horse pincher - you can imagine what sort of stories went along with those names!  According to British folklore, stag beetles summoned thunder and lightning storms, so they would have been very scary things for medieval peasants who also believed that they flew around with hot coals in their jaws setting fire to buildings.

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