SmartSquid

Denim Explained

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WASPS

Although one of the most unwelcome signs of summer, wasps are super effective pollinators (almost 100 species of orchid are reliant on wasps as pollinators) and play a crucial role in agricultural pest management.

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FLIES

Flies don't have the best reputation, but they are actually pretty fantastic (we think they are quite pretty too). They can pollinate; hoverflies are pro-pollinators and we have more than 270 species in the UK. They also are excellent pest controllers and can keep populations of aphids in check. Even pesky houseflies are effective scavengers, and their maggots are a vital source of protein for our British birds.

WHITE CLAWED CRAYFISH

Lobster like in appearance, these little crustaceans hide under rocks and emerge to prey on snails and larvae. Once widespread, this crayfish is now endangered. The decline is due to many factors including the North American signal crayfish who not only outcompete the smaller native, but also carry the crayfish plague. White clawed crayfish are also sensitive to pollution from insecticides.

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Snails

Snails may not seem too important, but they are! They are pro-degrades, eating up waste and rotting materials and therefor returning key nutrients to the soil in the process. They also are a major food source for British wildlife such as hedgehogs. Because snails consume vegetation and soil, they receive large amounts of calcium and this in turn provides this calcium into their predator's diets. 

Seagulls

Despite their tendency to steal snack, seagulls are pretty important birds. With an elegant, intelligent design, these opportunist birds can adapt to a wide rang of habitats and diets. They are also incredible parents; some gulls look after their young for 6 months which, in bird terms, is a long time! 

Herring gulls (which you'll have definitely seen, with a characteristic red fleck on their beaks) were the subject of an experiment conducted by Niko Tinbergen that gave rise to a whole new area of science - the study of animal behaviour. It's amazing that the study of just one species of gull gave rise to a whole new topic of exploration.

Photography by EMILY PARKER