Jul 4

Mini-beasts, or creepy crawlies, are the small creatures that creep, crawl and slither in the undergrowth, hedgerows and ponds. They are invertebrates, so they have no backbone or internal skeleton, and come in a fantastic array of shapes, sizes and colours. These differences mean that each mini-beast is beautifully adapted to its own habitat and way of life. So without further ado, let’s shine a spotlight on some of the smaller critters ARKive has to offer.  

Legs

All minibeasts need a way of getting around. Some have many legs, like this Amazonian giant centipede, and others have none like an earthworm or slug. In between the two extremes there are the insects, such as ants and beetles, which have six legs and the arachnids, such as spiders and scorpions, which have eight legs.   

Amazonian giant centipede photo

Amazonian giant centipede on branch

 

Taking to the air

Not only have mini-beasts conquered the land but they can also be found in the air. Some are expert aerial acrobats like the dragonflies whilst others, such as the beetles, tend to be a bit clumsier! Butterflies are some of the prettier aerial mini-beasts whilst the humble house-fly might not make it on to anyone’s list of favourites.   

Wasp beetle photo

Wasp beetle in flight

   

In the water

The water boatman is a classic example of a mini-beast you could expect to see if you decided to indulge in a spot of pond dipping. They are not alone in their water habitat and share it with critters ranging from the great pond snail to the common blue damselfly nymph.   

Water boatman photo

Water boatman photo on aquatic vegetation

 

Eat…

Mini-beasts also vary greatly in the things they feed on. Some are herbivorous and feed on nectar from flowers or the leaves of plants themselves. These leaf-cutter ants are farmers and use the leaves they cut to grow a special fungus which they feed on.   

Leaf-cutter ant photo

Leaf-cutter ants carrying leaves back to the nest

 

…or be eaten!

Other mini-beasts are predators and need to hunt to catch their food. The house spider spins a web to catch its prey whilst scorpions are armed with pincers and a stinging tail.   

House spider photo

House spider in web

Why not have a look and see what mini-beasts you can find crawling around ARKive? Or have a go at designing your own with our exciting  new education module – Marvellous Mini-beasts.   

Becky Moran, ARKive Media Researcher

  • Dmitri (July 5th, 2011 at 3:46 am):

    The mini-beasts really are marvelous! :)

  • Moisés (July 5th, 2011 at 10:05 am):

    charge mini-beasts =)

  • jorge fernandez (July 5th, 2011 at 10:30 am):

    My favorite is Eurypterus lacustris. I couldn’t find a goood picture of one. They roamed the shallow seas off New York 400 million years ago. Some measured 6 feet, and are known collectively as sea scorpions. There are some fine specimens at the Yale Peabody Museum.

  • Becky (July 5th, 2011 at 2:44 pm):

    Wow, Jorge, those sound like some pretty impressive beasties! I also quite like this freshwater scorpion:
    http://www.arkive.org/water-scorpion/nepa-cinerea/