Nature Studies by Michael McCarthy: The dazzling wings that define summer

What is the supreme marker of high summer? What sensations most come to mind of hot, lazy days? Do you see a yellow beach, a blue pool, or hear the shouts of children splashing? Do you hear the purr of an evening lawnmower? Do you taste rosé wine, chill and savoury in its glass? Do you smell a barbecue aroma wafting across from a neighbouring garden?

Damselflies in distress forced back to UK by climate change

Damselflies don't sound like they'd do anything as dramatic as invading anywhere, and the dainty damselfly sounds like it would do so least of all. But that's what's happening in southern England, as several species of these delicate, smaller relatives of the dragonflies cross over from the continent and start establishing populations here.

Top Trumps: All creatures great and small

Butterflies vs bats. Squirrels vs stag beetles. The natural world is at war – but don't worry, it's all for a good cause. Holly Williams plays a game of wildlife Top Trumps

Nature Studies by Michael McCarthy: Such intoxicating displays of mimicry

Very occasionally a book comes along which enables you to see the world in a different way, and I have just discovered one. The title is Butterflies: Messages from Psyche and the author is Philip Howse, a retired Professor of Entomology at the University of Southampton. Published six weeks ago, the book is large-format, and since it is profusely illustrated with splendid photographs of butterflies and moths, many of them magnificent tropical species in bravura colours, your first thought is: coffee table. Yet something radical is going on in these pages which marks this volume out as one to be read rather than left lying around in your sitting room.

Nature Club: Calling amateur naturalists

Britain has an extraordinary tradition of wildlife-watching – and our new Nature Club is a chance for readers to get up close with flora and fauna

Nature Studies by Michael McCarthy: Small species: spare parts that matter

An American botanist once suggested to me that I should think of the living plant and animal species of the earth as the parts of a dismantled Boeing 747, laid out on the ground. If 10 per cent of those parts were removed, he said, would you still be happy to fly in the Jumbo Jet, if the plane were put back together without them? Hardly, I said. So by analogy, he said, would you think you were safe on planet Earth with 10 per cent of its parts missing?

Bees fitted with tiny ID tags for study

Bees are being fitted with tiny radio ID tags to monitor their movements as part of research into whether pesticides could be giving the insects brain disorders, scientists said today.

Revealed: the wasp species impervious to evolution

Evolution has not altered the fig wasp in 34 million years, scientists have discovered.

Large blue thrives after transplant from Swedish island

Naturalists hope that this summer will prove to be a record year for the emblematic large blue butterfly, which was declared extinct in Britain in 1979 but has experienced a remarkable renaissance after it was re-introduced from Sweden in 1984.

Faerie queen Jessica Albarn draws on nature for inspiration for her first book

It turns out you really can't trust a faerie. Or, at least, not the ones that appear in illustrator Jessica Albarn's first book, The Boy in the Oak. Meant for adults and children alike, it's the story of a lonely, destructive boy who is cruel to nature, trampling on flowers, carving his initials into trees and frightening creatures. In return, a group of faeries – who take on the guise of the insect that reflects their personality, from dragonflies and butterflies to wasps and ladybirds – trap him in a magical oak.

Nature Studies by Michael McCarthy: The Duke of Burgundy lives. But for how long?

If you enjoy the series of cartoons by Gary Larson known as The Far Side, you may remember one which is a split panel, with the top half labelled "The Names We Give Dogs" and the bottom half labelled "The Names Dogs Give Themselves". In the top are two simple men and a simple mutt, and one man is saying to the other: "This is Rex, our new dog." In the bottom are three dogs, talking together. One says: "Hello, I am known as Vexorg, Destroyer of Cats and Devourer of Chickens," while the second dog, standing with the third, smaller dog at his side, says: "I am Zornorph, the One who Comes By Night to the Neighbour's Yard, and this is Princess Sheewana, Barker of Great Annoyance and daughter of Queen La, Stainer of Persian Rugs."

Crisis may be over for honey bees as more survive winter

More honey bee colonies made it through this winter than last year despite the harsh conditions, the British Beekeepers' Association says today. But while there was a "small and encouraging improvement" in survival rates this year, the UK's honey bees are still not healthy enough, the organisation's president Martin Smith warns.

New to nature, the moth that disguises itself as droppings

A new species of moth which has markings that make it look like a bird dropping, protecting it from predators, has been discovered in Devon.

Butterflies: Not just a pretty pair of wings

Clive Farrell has been fascinated by butterflies since boyhood. He explains why his conservation project for these vibrant creatures carries an urgent message

Getting close to nature: It's time to grasp the nettle

Contact with nature is good for us – yet we're discouraged from getting too close. The 'don't touch' culture is getting out of hand, says Peter Marren
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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