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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
…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.
Becky Moran, ARKive Media Researcher