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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