Urban Invertebrates: Centipedes and Millipedes

Centipedes and Millipedes

Millipedes have two pairs of legs per segment and move slowly. Centipedes have one pair of legs per segment. Millipedes protect themselves by coiling up and producing a yellowish poison. Centipedes have modified front legs that inject venom into their prey.

Millipedes

Ecological function: decomposer

Level in food chain: decomposer

Feeding behaviour: detritivore

Microhabitat:  usually found in rotting material.

Centipedes

Ecological function: predators

Level in food chain: secondary consumer 

Feeding behaviour: carnivore

Microhabitat:  usually found in rotting material.

Urban Invertebrates: Snails and slugs

Snails

These animals crawl on a single muscular foot. Most feed on plants, but sometimes they eat fungus and decomposing material. Snails help to break down decomposing material and become food for birds and other animals. Snails have shells, while slugs don’t.

Ecological function: herbivore, detritivore, decomposer

Level in food chain: primary consumer

Feeding behaviour: herbivore, fungivore, detritivore

Microhabitat: moist soil, under leaf litter

Urban Invertebrates: Flies, Midges and Mosquitoes

Flies

They usually have a round body and large eyes. They are important pollinators, decomposers and food items for insectivores.

Ecological function: pollinator, decomposer, scavenger

Level in food chain: secondary consumer

Feeding behaviour: coprophagous, necrophagous

Microhabitat: near rotting material

Midges

They can be mistaken for mosquitoes, but they do not suck blood. Their hind legs are not larger than the front legs. Midges do not have a long needle like mouth-part. They are important pollinators.

Ecological function: pollinators, decomposer, 

Level in food chain: secondary consumer

Feeding behaviour: carnivore, detritivore, nectivore, coprophagous

Microhabitat: damp areas with a lot of shade

Mosquitoes

Their hind legs are larger than their front legs. Females will feed on blood when they need to lay eggs, but male mosquitoes do not suck blood and are useful pollinators. Mosquitos are important prey to many insectivores.

Ecological function: parasite, pollinator

Level in food chain: secondary consumer

Feeding behaviour:  nectivore, blood feeder

Microhabitat: damp areas with a lot of shade

Urban Invertebrates: Bees, Wasps and Ants

Bees

They usually have a hairy, round body and their legs are usually hidden when flying. They only sting when provoked.

Ecological function: pollinators

Level in food chain: primary consumer

Feeding behaviour: nectarivore

Microhabitat: sometimes live in colonies in hives

Wasps

The body is slender and narrow-waisted, with little to no hair. Their legs hang down when flying. They only sting when provoked.

Ecological function: prey-predator relationship, pollinator

Level in food chain: secondary consumer

Feeding behaviour: nectarivore, carnivore

Microhabitat: sometimes live in colonies in grounds or in roof spaces

Ants

They have a thin waist and are usually wingless, sometimes divided into smaller workers and larger soldiers. ‘Ant bites’ are usually the acidic stings of ants.

Ecological function: decomposer, scavenger

Level in food chain: primary and secondary consumer

Feeding behaviour: detritovore, omnivore

Microhabitat: almost everywhere

Urban Invertebrates: Dragonflies and Damselflies

Dragonflies

They have a thicker and chunky abdomen. Their wings are unequal in size and are open at rest. In males, the large eyes are touching.

Ecological function: prey-predator relationship

Level in food chain: secondary consumer

Feeding behaviour: carnivore

Microhabitat: wet areas like ponds, drains, puddles and streams

Damselflies

They have a thin and narrow abdomen. Their wings are equal in size and are closed at rest. There is a gap between the eyes.

Ecological function: prey-predator relationship

Level in food chain: secondary consumer

Feeding behaviour: carnivore

Microhabitat: wet areas like ponds, drains, puddles and streams.

Urban Invertebrates: Grasshoppers and Crickets

Grasshoppers

They have short antennae and are active during the day. They “sing” by rubbing their hind legs against their wings.

Ecological function: herbivore, prey-predator relationship

Level in food chain: primary consumer, secondary consumer

Feeding behaviour: usually herbivore

Microhabitat: usually on plants and grass

Crickets

They have long antennae and are active at night. They “sing” by rubbing their wings together.

Ecological function: decomposer, prey-predator relationship

Level in food chain: secondary consumer

Feeding behaviour: omnivore, detritivore

Microhabitat:  usually on the ground and in fallen leaves

Urban Invertebrates: Butterflies and Moths

Butterflies

Active in the daytime, they have club-shaped antennae and their wings are held upwards when at rest.

Ecological function: pollinators, prey-predator relationship

Level in food chain: primary consumer

Feeding behaviour: herbivore (when caterpillar), nectarivore

Microhabitat: trees and shrubs where they can rest, flowering plants where they can feed

Moths

Active at night, they have antennae with various shapes and their wings are flat when at rest.

Ecological function: pollinators , prey-predator relationship

Level in food chain: primary consumer

Feeding behaviour: herbivore (when caterpillar), nectarivore

Microhabitat: trees and shrubs where they can rest, flowering plants where they can feed.