( Latin: Martesfoina) In many parts of Europe (although not Britain) beech martens occur quite commonly on farms and in holiday houses in the country. They sometimes live in the lofts where they make their lairs in hay or straw, or even in the roof insulation. The 2-5 young are born in late April. The […]
( Latin: Order Chiroptera) Bats, which are the only true flying mammals, are active by night, spending the day, and the winter, in sheltered places. Most of them probably live in hollow trees and caves, but some make use of buildings, where they are found mainly in lofts. There are about a dozen different bat species […]
( Latin: Family Strigidae) Among the owls that breed from time to time in buildings perhaps the best known is the barn owl (Tyto alba) which frequently nests in farm buildings or on church towers. In some areas the little owl (Athene noctua) will also nest m buildings, mainly in farming country.
( Latin: Falco tinnunculus) This bird of prey often builds on church towers in the country, and is by no means uncommon as a breeding bird in towns and cities, particularly in southern Europe. On occasion they also use the deserted nests of crows or magpies. They feed mainly on mice, but also take quite […]
( Latin: Corvus monedula) In places without human habitation, jackdaws will build in hollow trees, but in towns and villages they find good nest sites on houses, and particularly in chimneys.
( Latin: Columba livia ) Wild rock doves build mainly on cliffs, often at a considerable height. The ordinary urban pigeons which nest on buildings in towns and cities belong to this species. They require very little nest material, and sometimes a nest consists only of a cake of droppings with a few straws or twigs. […]
( Latin: Passer domesticus) These familiar little birds are probably more dependent upon man than any other. They live in small colonies, and build their nests close together. House sparrows are stationary birds, and after they have started to breed in a place they will remain there for the remainder of their life which may […]
( Latin: Apus apus) Swifts originally nested in hilly country, but they are now much associated with buildings, such as churches, silos and factories, where they build high• up in sheltered, inaccessible places. They arrive in Britain in late April and May and start to collect nest material. This takes place in the air, where they […]
Several birds have come to depend upon buildings when looking for a suitable nesting site. These are birds which have originally built on cliffs or in hollow trees, and each species chooses a position on the building which corresponds with its original nesting habits. In most cases birds are regarded as welcome guests, and many […]
( Latin: Psychoda alternata ) These are small, dark flies which can some- times be seen on the walls and in the basins in bathrooms and lavatories. They belong to a group known generally as owl midges. Their wings are hairy and relatively large, but they do not fly particularly well. They move by a […]
This is a moth which lays its eggs in a bumble bee nest, or more rarely in a wasp nest. There the larvae feed on any organic material, e.g. the wax cells and their con- tent of nectar and pollen in a bumble bee colony, but they may also attack the bee larvae. When fully […]
( Latin: Osmia bicornis) This is one of the solitary bees in which the nest is built of mud, in a wide variety of sites. On occasions the nest may be constructed indoors, possibly behind panelling, in furniture or even in a key-hole, provided there is constant access to the outside world. Apart from the […]
( Latin: Megachile centuncularis) This bee sometimes builds in the woodwork of houses. It lines the cells with regular oval pieces of leaf which it cuts from plants with smooth leaves, sometimes roses.
There are about 200 different species of solitary bees in northern Europe. Although they may live gregariously, e.g. Colletes daviesanus (see p. 157), they are known as solitary bees because each individual female makes her own nest, lays and tends her eggs and collects her own food. According to the species, solitary bees may construct […]
Unlike the honey bees, in which the whole colony survives the winter, a bumble bee colony only lasts for a single season. This means that all the workers die in the autumn, so that only a few young mated queens survive and spend the winter in hibernation. The bumble bees seen in March flying low […]
( Latin: Apis mellifera) This is one of the few, if not the only insect species to have become a true domestic animal. The ancient Egyptians had beehives some 5,000 years ago. The importance of honey bees as pollinators cannot be overestimated, and their honey has always been much sought after. Honey bees live in […]
( Latin: Superfamily Apoidea)
( Latin: Superfamily Vespoidea) There are seven different species of social wasp in Britain and northern Europe, and they all have the same general appearance with the black-yellow barring, and the same habits. The wasps usually seen in or near houses are the common wasp Vespula vulgaris, the German wasp, Vespula germanica, and the hornet […]
This is a group of small beetles which have a somewhat unusual way of life. Both the adults and the larvae feed predominantly on moulds and they therefore live where these are to be found growing. They occur in cellars, outhouses and store-rooms where the humidity is high, and it is not uncommon for them […]
This is a reduviid bug (Order Hemiptera) which in spite of its very delicate appearance is .an active predator. It frequents damp places, such as old walls, thatch and low herbage, where it catches small insects and feeds by sucking their body contents.
( Latin: Acheta domesticus) House crickets are closely related to the grasshoppers, and like them they have the hind legs modified for jumping. The adults are 2 cm long and pale grey-brown with a black pattern on the head and thorax. They have two pairs of wings, of which the back pair is used for […]
( Latin: Salticus scenicus) Some spiders do not spin a web but hunt their prey actively. These include the hunting spiders, and the zebra spider which is quite a small representative of this group can often be seen on the walls of a house, especially if the sun is shining. The spider’s behaviour changes when […]
Spiders can build their webs in several different ways depending upon the species, but for most people a true spider’s web will always be one of the elegant, circular, so- called orb webs, as spun by, for instance, the Common garden spider. Zygiella x-notata is a smaller orb-web spider which is very common in the […]
This spider is frequently seen in buildings particularly outhouses, lofts and cellars. It is chocolate-brown, and the abdomen, which has a pale stripe across the front edge, shines as though oiled. The web consists of an open mesh with threads running either vertically or obliquely to the substrate. These threads are sticky at the ends […]
( Latin: Tegenaria domestica) This is one of the largest spiders found in Europe, and it also occurs in many other parts of the world. The body alone may be as much as 1 cm long and the long legs can give a span of 5-6 cm. This spider can be found in all sorts […]
( Latin: Order Opiliones) Harvestmen or phalangids are very easy to recognize by their small, circular body and enormously long legs. Two species, Opilio parietinus and Phalangium opilio, are very common in and around buildings, where they are active at night, searching for food. Harvestmen live on many different kinds of food. They have been […]
( Latin: Chelifer cancroides) False scorpions have four pairs of legs and they move about very rapidly, both back- wards and forwards. They can be found, for instance, in a pile of papers or books that has lain slightly damp for some time. They somewhat resemble tiny scorpions because they have a pair of deadly […]
These are molluscs which have lungs but no shell. The yellow slug, Limax flavus, reaches a length of 7 -10 cm, and is pale greyish with darker spots and a reticulate pattern. Another species, the great slug, L. maximus, which sometimes enters houses, reaches a length of up to 15 cm. It is also greyish […]
Among the animals that live regularly indoors there are several which are interested neither in us personally nor in the stores of food and other commodities with which we surround ourselves. These include several animals that make use of the favourable conditions offered by houses. Some also use our houses as hunting grounds, feeding on […]