#WildEssex bug-hunt in St Mary’s Churchyard, Wivenhoe

A wonderful morning with a group of enthusiastic children discovering the bugs and beasties in St Mary’s churchyard, Wivenhoe. Such a joy to see their faces light up with each find! Thank you to the church for organising, parents and grandparents for accompanying them and most of all the children themselves.

Here is just a selection of what we found…

And on top of that, there were the galls. On the Walnut tree, famously planted from part of the tree in the garden of The Greyhound that was felled by the 1987 ‘hurricane’ two types of mite gall were very obvious: the common blister gall of Aceria erineus

… and the much smaller, redder pustule gall of Aceria tristriata. This is rather special – the map on the National Biodiversity Network website shows just 12 locations in the whole country where it has been recorded. That is certainly an underestimate, as we have subsequently found at least two further ‘new’ locations in the past year, but clearly it is uncommon, and therefore part of the biodiversity of the churchyard to be treasured.

The value of churchyards cannot be overstated. Enclaves of the near-forgotten countryside of our past, a refuge for wildlife as well as for the soul, especially when the wildlife is actively encouraged in by the retention of long grass and flowers to feed the insects all summer long. And inspiration for those who will come after us, those for whom we must do our level best, to ensure their world is still a world worth living in.