The insects at Paxton Pits are often overlooked, but there are plenty there. Keep your eyes open!
Holly Blue (Ian Johnston)
Twenty-seven species of butterfly have been recorded around Paxton Pits. Two species to particularly look out for are marbled white (annual since 1998) and purple hairstreak (best seen over the oak trees along the Haul Road). Volunteers survey the butterflies at Paxton Pits every week through the spring and summer, contributing to the UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme. Find out more about their status and likely flight months at Paxton.
Crickets and grasshoppers
Long-winged conehead (Ian Dawson)
In 2005, volunteers found a short-winged conehead singing strongly from the waterside vegetation in the Meadow, the first record for the Pits and coming hot on the heels of the long-winged coneheads first seen here in 2003. Roesel's, dark and speckled bush-crickets are also in the Meadow, as is lesser marsh grasshopper.
Until about 1970, long-winged conehead was restricted to the south coast from Dorset to Sussex but has since spread dramatically north and is now widespread in rough grassland, especially roadside verges in Huntingdonshire, whereas short-winged conehead is associated with wet meadows and fens. It’s encouraging to find both species of conehead in close proximity in two different habitat types, each the ‘normal’ habitat type for one species. With climate change, you can no longer trust the books!
The gravel pits have significantly increased the habitat for dragonflies and damselflies - some species are found close to the river, but many can be seen around the edges of the pits. The Meadow Trail and the Ouse Valley Way are the best places to see them, from May to August. 21 species occur regularly, with two others - variable damselfly and red-veined darter - also recorded. Find out more about their status and likely flight months at Paxton.
In September 2014 we opened a new platform to make it easier to get close to dragonflies and damselflies - see the Press Release
Ruby Tiger (Ian Johnstone)
An increasing number of wildlife enthusiasts are becoming interested in moths, and several organise moth-trapping sessions at Paxton Pits during the summer, some of which are open to the public. 530 species have been recorded at the Pits. Visit the moths page, with a downloadable list.
Spider (John Read)
The Little Paxton spider list stands at 148 species, though there are doubtless more to be found, since so few people are looking: 23 new records for Huntingdonshire have been found during the last three years. The last published list for Huntingdonshire totalled 250 species (up to 1998). For comparison, Bedfordshire and Leicestershire have both been very well recorded and have 323 and 326 species respectively, which is just over 50% of the British spider fauna (ca 640 species). Among the finds are species never previously been recorded in Huntingdonshire.