Minibeasts are small animals with no backbone called ‘invertebrates’. From spiders to snails, crabs to centipedes, minibeasts live all around us, in numerous different habitats. While some people may call them pests, minibeasts make up around 97% of all animals and our ecosystems depend on them to help recycle waste, pollinate plants and to provide food for larger animals.

Search for the minibeasts of Powerscourt in the following places…

Rotting leaves, wood and soil

Woodlouse (Oniscus asellus)

Contrary to what many people think, woodlice are not insects… they are crustaceans, and are related to crabs and shrimp! Woodlice dry out easily and so are usually found in damp, dark places such as under logs and stones. They eat rotting wood and leaves, breaking down and recycling them back into the soil.

Did you know?
Woodlice breathe through their legs!

Millipede (Cylindroiulus punctatus)

These slow, long-bodied herbivores have around 100 pairs of legs, despite what their name suggests! You can find them under piles of fallen leaves and in moss, both of which they like to eat.

Centipede (Lithobius variegatus)

A predator of woodlice and its relative, the millipede, these fast moving carnivores have poisonous fang-like claws they use to catch and paralyse their prey. During the day they hide under stones. Those that are less well hidden quickly become a tasty snack for magpies and blackbirds.

Ground beetle (Pterostichus madidus)

These shiny black ground beetles hunt worms, slugs and caterpillars, but also enjoy fruit. Though they have wings, they cannot fly, and instead live on the woodland floor under rocks and rotting wood.

Did you know?
Beetles are highly adaptable and have been around since before the dinosaurs. Today there are over 350,000 species of beetle in the world!

Leaves, twigs and grass

Grasshopper (Chorthippus brunneus)

You can glimpse these large insects jumping or flying about in the grassy area near the waterfall and river. Listen out for their high, chirping song made as they rub their legs and wings together.

Did you know?
Grasshoppers are able to jump up to twenty times their own length!

Froghopper (Philaenus spumarius)

These little bugs are frog-like in appearance and jumping ability. The larva of this insect feeds on plant sap and creates a white frothy mass known as ‘cuckoo spit’, in which it stays protected from enemies and the sun. This can be found in longer grass during spring and summer.

Ladybird (Coccinella 7-punctata)

Brightly coloured and beloved, these beetles are commonly seen on brambles, nettles and in the grass along the trail. Ladybirds hibernate in winter, often in large groups, under tree bark and in piles of wood and leaves.

Did you know?
We have fifteen types of ladybirds in Ireland. These have different numbers of spots, ranging from two to twenty-two, and can vary in colour from red to yellow.

The open air

Small Tortoiseshell butterfly (Aglais urticae)

Look for these butterflies feeding on dandelion and thistle, or near nettles, where they lay their eggs. Their caterpillars are spiky and black, with yellow stripes down their sides and back.

Peacock butterfly (Inachis io)

The peacock butterfly is one of few in Ireland that hibernates over winter. With their wings closed, these insects resemble dead leaves, allowing them to easily blend into hollow tree trucks or garden sheds.

Red Admiral butterfly (Vanessa atalanta)

These distinctive butterflies migrate north from the Mediterranean to spend their springtime here. Search for them on brambles, where they may be enjoying a meal of over-ripe blackberries.

Did you know?
Butterflies taste with their feet!

  • Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria)
  • Silver-washed Fritillary (Argynnis paphia)
  • Small White (Pieris rapae)

Bumblebee (Bombus sp.)

These large furry bees can travel up to 5km to forage for nectar and pollen, and are often spotted visiting the heathers and foxgloves along the trail. There are 20 different species of bumblebee in Ireland and they play a vital role in pollinating our flowering plants and crops.

Lacewing (Chrysoperla carnea)

With their bright green colouring and delicate, almost transparent wings, these insects can be quite hard to spot on plants. They are a welcome visitor to many gardens, as their young feast on tiny, plant-eating aphids.