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Insect Week returns in 2022

Listening to insects

These recordings and descriptions were provided by Dr Dave Chesmore, a senior lecturer at the University of York.

  • Death’s-head Hawk-moth Caterpillar Eating

    Death’s-head Hawk-moth, Acherontia atropos


    The Death’s-head Hawk is the largest moth in Britain and the caterpillar feeds on potato. The sound is of the caterpillar eating a leaf and was recorded using a miniature microphone. The sounds can be heard if the caterpillar is in a quiet environment.

  • Stag Beetle Larva Stridulating

    Stag Beetle Larva, Lucanus cervus


    The Stag Beetle is the largest beetle in the UK and is found on the south east of the country. The larvae live in decaying wood and are known to make deliberate sounds (stridulation) by rubbing their middle and hind legs together. It is not known why they make this sound. The recording was made...

  • Water Boatman “Singing” Underwater

    Water Boatman, 'singing' underwater


    It is amazing how many sounds there are in a pond. One of the most common, and loudest, is the water boatman which can sometimes be heard from the edge of the pond. It is the male that sings by rubbing parts of the body together. The recording here was made using a home-made hydrophone placed in a...

  • Beetle Larva Moving and Feeding Inside a Log

    Two-banded Longhorn beetle, Rhagium bifasciatum


    Many species of beetle live inside live and decaying trees, branches and logs when they are in larval form. It is possible to detect the sounds with a contact microphone. The sounds tend to be either very short clicks caused by feeding or more noise-like due to movement. The recording here is of...

  • Lesser Marsh Grasshopper Singing

    Lesser Marsh Grasshopper, Chorthippus albomarginatus, singing


    Grasshoppers make sounds by rubbing their hind leg, which has pegs on it, on a thickened part of their forewing. The sounds are different for different species and can be used to identify the insects from a distance. The recording made here is of a Lesser Marsh Grasshopper ( Chorthippus...

  • Leaf-cutter Ant Distress Call

    Leaf-cutter ant


    Many species of ants communicate with sound, normally quite high pitched. There are a number of different sounds including a distress call such as the one recorded here. The sound was recorded at the BBC in Glasgow in 2012 using a miniature microphone and has been slowed down by 50% to allow it to...

Did you know?

Most misunderstood insect in the UK

Earwigs, which don’t go in ears, except by rare accident. Originally 'ear-wing' as their wings are human ear shaped.

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