News Story

The ruins of Weoley Castle have a rich history, but there is also a wealth of wildlife living there today. The species that we have found are typical of urban habitats, so it is possible to find most of these creatures in parks and gardens around Birmingham.

A wasp with a dark metallic black blue body and red bottom half on a leaf.
Pseudomalus auratus

One of the most beautiful animals we have found at Weoley is a wasp with the scientific name Pseudomalus auratus. It belongs to a group of insects called the Jewel Wasps because of their beautiful metallic colours. This wasp might look exotic, but it is common in gardens in the West Midlands. It is probably overlooked due to its small size, only reaching around 7mm in length.

Pseudomalus auratus has evolved a very unusual lifestyle. They are nest parasites of thread-waisted wasps that hunt greenfly to feed their young. To get their eggs inside the thread-waisted wasps’ nest Pseudomalus auratus lays them inside greenflies. These greenflies are taken back to the nest where the eggs hatch and eat the host’s larvae. Greenflies near the host wasps’ nest are chosen to increase the chances of being hunted by thread-waisted wasps.

A red and yellow striped fly on a flower.
The Hornet Hoverfly Volucella zonaria

The Hornet Hoverfly (Volucella zonaria) is one of our biggest hoverflies. As the English name suggests it mimics Hornets to avoid being eaten. The larvae live inside wasp nests.

A black and yellow insect with its wings open on a green leaf.

Ant-hill Hoverflies (Philhelius spp.) lay the eggs inside ant’s nests where the larvae live underground.

A insect with long legs and wings on a plastic dish.
Tipula paludosa Credit: By Lukas Large, Curator (Natural Sciences)

The European crane fly (Tipula paludosa). There around 350 species of Cranefly recorded in Britain, but this is one you are likely to see in your garden of flying into an open window in Autumn.

A black beetle.
European Gazelle Beetle Nebria brevicollis

If you lift a log and see a big beetle running for shelter, there is a good chance that it is the European Gazelle Beetle (Nebria brevicollis).

A brown and cream insect on a grey background.
Mocydia crocea

The leafhopper bug Mocydia crocea is usually found amongst the tall grasses that it feeds on.

A spider with thin long legs on a plastic dish.
Phalangium opilio

The Harvestman Phalangium opilio is a common and widespread species in gardens.

Over the next year we are going to be working with a team of volunteers to record the wildlife at Weoley Castle and use this information to inform our management of the site. The aim is to boost the biodiversity that we already have and encourage more wildlife to make Weoley Castle their home.

By Lukas Large
Curator (Natural Sciences)