Michael McCarthy: This isn't just about bees – it affects everything

How will we characterise our age? By the birth of the internet? The rise of China? The first black US president? Perhaps in all those ways. But we could also say, less obviously but perhaps more fundamentally, that ours is the age when the insects disappeared.

Nature Studies by Michael McCarthy: Of the dingy footman, and other such creatures

With a thump, a thick tome lands on my desk: it is the Provisional Atlas of the UK's Larger Moths. Two adjectives in that title, provisional and larger, may well deter some people as they give off a definite whiff of nerdiness, but having by now been infected with the nerd germ I am immune to such concerns, open the volume eagerly and at once find myself immersed in the world of the oblique carpet, the dark spinach, the smoky wainscot, the brindled pug, the snout, the beautiful snout, the Bloxworth snout and the true lover's knot.

The Natural World: Caught on camera - the majesty of India

When I was invited to join five friends in India, I jumped at the chance. Working at London's Natural History Museum, I am used to photographing fascinating things, but this trip was quite different – it was all about subjects, out in the wild.

Traditional seasons help UK's flora and fauna to thrive

The return of the traditional seasons, with cold winters, a late spring and a reasonably warm summer has proved to be a tonic for much of Britain’s wildlife, according to an analysis by experts at the National Trust.

Letters: Political parties

You report (13 December) that Labour is to woo Liberal Democrats. This is after Ed Miliband promised to eliminate us.

Nature Studies by Michael McCarthy: The end of abundance

If we ask ourselves what has been lost, that we really care about, in the last 50 years, what has gone from the natural world in Britain that was special and is now much missed, we might come up with many different answers.

The complex harmonies of a classical triad

The lives of Fauré, Saint-Saëns andRavel were heavily intertwined and interdependent. Jessica Duchen reveals how the three composers were key to each other's success

Moth-eaten chic at Chanel

Hole-ridden tweed suits that looked like they'd been devoured by generations of moths opened Chanel's spring-summer 2011 ready-to-wear show today with what seemed like a sly commentary on the French heritage house's amazing staying power.

Spread of alien moth puts Britain's conker trees at risk

Latest research finds horse chestnuts from Cornwall to Yorkshire are now under attack

An unwanted dinner guest: How do you grow salad leaves that won't come complete with creepy crawlies?

This is a very enjoyable meal, except for one thing: there's a curled green caterpillar in the middle of the plate. He's not even a small caterpillar. He's a long, fairly fat boy with a healthy yet unappetising wiggle to him, despite his stay in the salad. The waitress is surprisingly unsurprised: "The leaves are organic," she tells me, as if that explains why they didn't get a proper wash.

Are we losing the fight to save our hedgerows?

A decade after the first legal moves to protect them, they are still under attack – and now they could fall victim to spending cuts

Nature Studies by Michael McCarthy: The French have a way with butterflies

I have just spent a fortnight in a farmhouse in the Normandy countryside where the garden was full of butterflies. There are more butterfly species in France than in Britain – more than four times as many, something like 250 as compared with fewer than 60 here – and there also appear to be simply more individual insects, as the French countryside seems not to have suffered quite the battering inflicted on the natural world in Britain by intensive farming. The roadside verges were overflowing with splendid wild flowers, agrimony, betony, yellow toadflax and even glowing blue cornflowers, which in Britain are virtually extinct; there were red squirrels, roe deer and green woodpeckers in the wood across the road and hares in the fields, and my wife saw la fouine, the beech marten, run through the garden.

Bat 'mutes sonar signal to sneak up on its prey'

A rare British bat has developed remarkable stealth technology to sneak up on the moths which are its principal prey, new research has shown.

Churchill's final mission is completed

The butterfly house where Sir Winston would indulge his passion for breeding rare insects has been rebuilt

Spider Silk, By Leslie Brunetta and Catherine L Craig

Say "spider" and, if you can bear to think of them, you probably freely associate them with "webs". But most spiders (there are about 40,000 species) don't spin webs at all. Silk, yes, but that's a different matter - because the range of uses to which spiders put their silk goes way beyond webs. Spiders began as burrowers, lining their lairs with silk, and a particularly ingenious contrivance is the hinged trapdoor that the evolutionarily primitive Mesothele spiders still use to shut out the world.

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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices