Over 95% of all know species of animals on Earth are invertebrates (animals without backbones). They are incredibly complex creatures which can be found in terrestrial, marine and freshwater habitats.

The variety of invertebrates is staggering, there are over 40,000 species of invertebrates in the UK.

They range from tiny mites which are invisible to the human eye, to massive stag beetles. Due to their, generally, small size and lack of fur, not many people pay attention to invertebrates. However, they provide a range of useful ecosystem services that we cannot survive without, like pollination, decomposition, and they’re an important food source for other animals such as birds, mammals, and reptiles. Even the common wasp, which most people find annoying, is a very useful pollinator.

Stephen Barlow

Unfortunately, many invertebrate species are in decline and few people know how to identify or record invertebrates. This means that there is a lack of data on invertebrates so conservationists are struggling to fully understand where, when, how or why they’re declining. It’s becoming increasingly important that conservationists and anyone working within the environmental sector develop invertebrate identification skills because they’re so vital to our survival. Developing these skills can be both easy and difficult. Invertebrates vary greatly in terms of their size and ease of identification. Take beetles, for example, there’s over 4000 species in the UK. You can identify many of the larger species groups, like longhorn beetles, in the field but there are also many tricky groups, such as weevils, which require microscopic identification and thus much more practice.

Other Invertebrates Identification Courses

Each Eco-Skills course is part of a learning framework.. You can see the course level descriptions here

FSC run regular Other Invertebrates Courses throughout spring and summer. For details of these courses, and to learn more about other invertebrates click the button above to view our courses.

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Identification Resources:

FSC publish full-colour laminated charts designed for use outside. Clear colour illustrations help you make a positive identification quickly. Small enough to take into the field – charts fold to B5 size (approx. 24 x 18 cm). Splash-proof and wipe clean.


FSC AIDGAP Key to Terrestrial British Invertebrates
FSC AIDGAP Key to Beetle Families
FSC Insects of the British Isles chart
FSC Grasshopper Identification chart
FSC Ladybird chart
Longhorn beetle chart
FSC Ladybird Larvae Identification chart
FSC Shieldbug Identification chart