Common Sexton Beetle (Nicrophorus vespilloides) (Steve Orridge)

Insects (Insecta)

Under development. Contributions from BFC members welcome. Watch this space.

About insects

There are 24 orders of insects in the UK currently. Each order is divided into families and then into species.

Some orders have many families, for example, just in the UK:
• the beetles (Coleoptera) have 112 families and 4000+ species
• the true flies (Diptera} have 103 families and 7000 species – this is a greater number than there are species of mammal (approx. 6500) in the world!

To find out more about these, click on the following link to see the pdf of the presentation slides from Steve Orridge’s talk to BFC on:  

The Amazing World of Insects

Insects in the High Peak

For these buttons with the solid borders to work properly you will need to be registered and logged into iNaturalist. This is a free and extremely useful app. See our ‘How to record wildlife’ page for more information and tips on how to use it.

Takes you to the up-to-date list and photo galleries of all insect observations within the High Peak area, as recorded on iNaturalist

Takes you to the up-to-date list and photo galleries of all insect observations within the ‘Buxton polygon’ area, as recorded on iNaturalist and collected by the Buxton Biodiversity Recording Group project

The major orders of insects found in Britain are listed below. Click on the links to the dedicated pages to find out more about the species to be found in the High Peak.

Common name of order

Scientific name of order


Example photo

Link to dedicated page



Primitive wingless insects with 3 long bristle-like tails. Scavengers and carnivores. Virtually no metamorphosis during development.

Southern Bristletail (Dilta hibernica) (J Mortin)

Silverfish and Firebrats


Primitive wingless insects with 3 long caudal filaments (tails) similar to bristletails. Scavengers and carnivores. Virtually no metamorphosis during development.

Common Silverfish (Lepisma saccharinum)

Two-pronged Bristletails


Primitive non-insect hexapods with 2 caudal appendages (tails). Scavengers and carnivores. Virtually no metamorphosis during development.

Two-pronged Bristletail (Genus Campodeidae) (J Mortin)



Primitive hexapods without eyes, wings or antennae. Virtually no metamorphosis during development. No observations yet in Buxton or High Peak.

Photos needed



Technically, these are ‘insect-like arthropods’. About 1,500 species known, Very small,often clothed with scales or hairs. Named for the springing organ at rear of most species, clipped under abdomen but released when disturbed to shoot the insect out of danger. No compound eyes. Most live in leaf litter feeding on fungi and decaying plant matter. Virtually no metamorphosis during development.

Springtail: Pogonognathellus (S Orridge)



Delicate, weak-flying insects with two pairs of wings, front pair much larger than back pair, and two or three long ‘tails’. Young are nymphs, with only partial metamorphosis and no pupal stage. About 2,500 known species, with 200 in Europe.

Drake Mackerel Mayfly (Ephemera vulgata) (S Orridge)

Dragonflies and damselflies


Relatively long-bodies, predatory insects with large eyes, tiny, bristle-like antennae, two pairs of stiff wings that each move independently, making the insect a fast and extremely agile hunter. Over 5,000 known species worldwide, with about 100 species in Europe. Young are nymphs, with only partial metamorphosis and no pupal stage. See the linked page for a fuller description and species found locally.

Male Broad-bodied Chaser Dragonfly, Taddington High Mere 07/07/13 (Andy Gregory)



Weak-flying or flightless insects with soft, flattened bodies, and often with two long ‘tails’. Wings folded flat over body or wrapped around it at rest. Essentially aquatic insects, developing in and remaining close to water. Young are nymphs, with only partial metamorphosis and no pupal stage.

Orange-striped Stonefly (Perlodes mortoni) (S Orridge)

Grasshoppers and crickets


Over 17,000 species worldwide, over half of which are grasshoppers.  Over 600 species in Europe but only 30 in Britain. European species divide into 4 families: grasshoppers, locusts, bush-crickets and true crickets. Young are nymphs, with only partial metamorphosis and no pupal stage. See the linked page for a fuller description and species found locally.

Green grasshopper (Steve Orridge)

Cockroaches and mantids


Cockroaches are becoming established in Europe and Britain as a cosmopolitan pest. Quite flat, with long antennae and long, spiky legs. Fast running scavengers. Young are nymphs, with only partial metamorphosis and no pupal stage. No observations in Buxton or the High Peak yet.

Mantids (praying mantis) are not usually found in Britain. European species may be found rarely as an introduced species in southern England, not yet in Buxton or the High Peak.

Photos needed



Over 2,000 species worldwide, 7 species in Britain of which one, the Giant Earwig is probably now extinct. The most widespread species is the Common Earwig.

Small to medium-sized, elongated and flattened insets with short legs and cosnpicuous forceps (modified cerci) at the tail. A wise range of habitats, mainly nocturnal, feeding on plant and animal material. Females guard their eggs and young until the nymphs can fend for themselves.

Common Earwig (Forficula dentata/auricularia) (S Orridge)



‘True bugs’ are a large order with about 75,000 species worldwide, of which 8,000 in Europe and 1,700 in Britain. Wide range of forms, but all species possess a piercing beak (the rostrum) with which they suck the juices from plants or other animals. Young are nymphs, with only partial metamorphosis and no pupal stage. See the linked page for a fuller description and species found locally.

Birch Shieldbug (Elasmostethus interstinctus) (Steve Orridge)

Lice, thrips and fleas

Psocodea, Thysanoptera and Siphonaptera

3 orders of smaller insects, not usually studied:

Lice, booklice & barklice (Psocodea)

Thrips (Thysanoptera)

Fleas (Siphonoptera)

Booklice and barklice spp (Psocoptera spp) (S Orridge)

Lacewings, alderflies, scorpionflies and snakeflies


A combined group of the following groups, closely related and studied together:

Lacewings and antlions (Neuroptera): 5,940 species worldwide, 70 species in Britain.

Alderflies (Megaloptera): 380 species worldwide, 3 species in Britain.

Scorpionflies (Mecoptera): 769 species worldwide, 4 species in Britain.

Snakeflies (Raphidoptera): 271 species worldwide, 4 species in Britain.

Brown Lacewing (Hemerobiidae spp) (S Orridge)

Butterflies and moths


158,570 secies identified worldwide, 2,525 species in Britain.

Probably the most popular insects to study. Two pairs of wings usually covered in scales, with striking coloured patterns. Adults have a proboscis for feeding on nectar. Antennae are long and clubbed or slightly hooked in day-flying butterflies, which normally rest with wings closed. Wings held in various shapes and positions when resting in the mainly night-flying moths. Moth antennae may be club-like, saw-edged or feathery.

Life cycle of egg-caterpillar-pupa-adult with full metamorphosis.

Brown Argus butterfly, Wye Dale 18/05/21 (Andy Gregory)

Caddis flies


15,200 species worldwide, 200 species in Britain.

Similar to some micro-moths, but with hairy wings, held at rest over their bodies like a roof, and long antennae held out in front. Species tend to lack distinctive wing patterning and hard to identify without microscopes.

Larvae are aquatic (except for Land Caddis) and often build portable cases. Adults do not feed and live for just a few days.

Caddisfly, Buxton 29/05/21 (Jonathan Mortin)

True flies


160,600 species identified worldwide, c.1,700 species in Britain. Second largest order in Britain.

One pair of wings, hindwings modified into pin-shaped halteres used for balance when in flight. Large compound eyes, antennae tend to be short. Mouthparts structured to suck moisture or nectar, or to pierce surfaces to suck blood. Legless larvae known as maggots.

Larger, more-studied species fall into following families: Robberflies, St Mark’s flies, Bee-flies, Blowflies, Houseflies and allies, Fold-winged cranefies, Soldierflies, Hoverflies, Horseflies, Parasitic flies and Long-palped craneflies.

Hoverfly Leucozona Lucorum, Wye Dale 18/05/21 (Andy Gregory)

Ants, Wasps, Bees, Sawflies, Ichneumons and others


Approx. 153,000 species identified worldwide, 7,760 species in Britain. The largest order in Britain.

Bilberry Bumblebee (Steve Orridge)



Approx. 392,400 species identified worldwide, 4,131 species (including extinct species) in Britain. The largest order of insects in the world, but the third largest In Britain.

Hardened forewings (called elytra) that cover the membranous hindwings, where present. Biting jaws are used for a wide range of food, depending upon species, including live prey, live or dead plants, live and rotting wood, and dung.

Green Tiger Beetle (Steve Orridge)

For recorded observations of insects around Buxton, go to:  Buxton Biodiversity Recording Group – iNaturalist

Identifying insects

Collins Guide to the Insects of Britain and Western Europe

Michael Chinery


A very good portable field guide.

Paul D Brock

WILDGuides: Princeton University Press

“Britain’s Insects: A Field Guide to the Insects of Great Britain and Ireland by WildGuides (£25, first published on 5 July 2021) is a whopper! It is not perhaps a field guide in the sense that you would carry it around easily in your bag, but you could have it in the car and most all-round naturalists will definitely want it on their shelves. What it does brilliantly in 600 clearly laid out, if busy, pages is to put at your disposal the most comprehensive single text yet produced for British insects, packed with key up-to-the-minute data and with 2,600 superb images of nearly 1500 species.

“There are 1-2 innovations and a whole lot that was excellent in [his] earlier books which Paul has carried over into this new one. One of the most important for me is the inclusion of as many English-language names for species as he possibly can. There’s a famous Spanish-derived adage quoted everywhere by naturalists these days – ‘you cannot love what you do not know’. I would modify it slightly to argue ‘you cannot love what you cannot remember’. English names are pivotal to the dissemination of knowledge and, thus, of real attention and devotion to any branch of natural history. Of course you cannot easily have English names for all 24,000 insects, but you can work on the principle that accessibility is everything. The editors at WildGuides are past masters at this stuff and I could not recommend their collective project more highly.

“One detail I must mention before I close and let you go off and pre-order it. I am a passionate devotee of grasshoppers and crickets, partly because, like birds, they up and fly away, making them an enhanced challenge in the field. But they also produce some of the most glorious vocalisations of the British summer. This book has a system of QR codes for every member of the group so you can use your mobile phone to find recordings and thus hear these orthopteran melodies in real time as you are looking and listening to the beast itself. What a great innovation. Congratulations Paul Brock. Congratulations to the team at WildGuides.”

Mark Cocker: The unoffical book club review no. 2 (Through 360 Degrees – a blog by Mark Cocker) (see The Blog Spot page)

Information and guidance

Buglife is the only organisation in Europe devoted to the conservation of all invertebrates. They are actively working to save Britain’s rarest little animals, everything from bees to beetles, worms to woodlice and jumping spiders to jellyfish.