Have you ever wondered about the hidden wonders of the insect kingdom right within our garden centres?

Well, wonder no more, because we have an expert bug enthusiast, Chris, who has been diligently exploring the nooks and crannies of our Plymouth Garden Centre. Chris, with an incredible passion for bugs and an unmatched knowledge of the local ecosystem, is here to be your bug whisperer.

In this exciting new blog, Chris takes us on a captivating journey through the many bugs that call our garden centre home. Whether you’re a seasoned bug enthusiast or just starting to discover the charm of these tiny creatures, Chris will reveal the intriguing insects you can encounter during your visit.

So, get ready to delve into Chris’s discoveries and learn about the remarkable bug residents that make our garden centres their habitat and what Chris has found at our Plymouth branch.

The Greenhouse

Look around the greenhouse and you should come across a number of spiders, doing their best to keep flies under control.

We have one species that is unable to survive outside and is known as the Garden Centre Spider.

One of only 2 species in the UK that does not have venom, when prey enters the web the spider speedily wraps it up before vomiting digestive juices onto it to dissolve the exoskeleton before eating it.

Because of these dissolving juices, when it feeds it spreads its front legs wide so they do not digest their own bodies! This spider is plentiful here but is quite well camouflaged, looking like a piece of debris on its web.

  • Garden Centre Spider (Uloborus plumipes) eating prey
  • Garden Centre Spider (Uloborus plumipes)
  • Female Garden Centre Spider with her egg sack

  • Buff-tailed Bumblebee
  • Red Admiral Butterfly
  • Honey Bee
  • Elephant Hawkmoth caterpillar

Outside among the plants

Outside in the plant area you will see lots of bees, flies and hoverflies busy feeding on the flowers on sale.

The hardy nursery team are always looking out for wildlife amongst the plants.

As well as honey and bumblebees, look out for smaller solitary bees. They tend to be quicker than the other bees and busily fly in, collect pollen and nectar and quickly fly off again.

Butterflies should also be around when the sun is out. Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Peacock and Meadow Brown should hopefully be seen and you may be lucky to find some day-flying moths too, such as Silver Y, Hummingbird Hawkmoth, or Jersey Tiger.

  • Speckled Bush Cricket

Also amongst the plants you may be lucky enough to spot some bush crickets. Recently, 2 types have been found here – Speckled Bush Cricket and Dark Bush Cricket.

Both species are wingless and they get around by walking and hopping. Females are easy to tell from males as they have long, curved ovipositors at the end of their abdomens.

  • Dark Bush Cricket

As well as spiders in the greenhouses, there are many outside too.

Garden spiders are rapidly maturing and their characteristic webs can often be found strung between plants.

There is also a large web of a species normally associated with Gorse bushes. The Labyrinth Spider has a funnel-like tunnel where it spends most of its time in safety, but all around it is a network of spider silk that stretches across the plant it has chosen as home – a small conifer tree.

I was lucky enough to see the female come out and check over her labyrinth of silk to see if anything needed repair or if there was a meal trapped.

  • Labyrinth Spider tunnel

There are always interesting bugs to find when you come to Otter Garden Centres, whether inside the greenhouse or outside among the plants.

Keen, young eyes are ideal for finding all sorts.

If you do spot something, give a member of the team a shout and we will try to help you identify what you’ve found.