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Creepy crawlies all in a days work

PUBLISHED: 20:00 27 May 2004 | UPDATED: 04:54 02 March 2010

IMAGINE coming face to face with a spider that could kill you or a beetle that could destroy all the trees in Ipswich.

Think of the excitement of realising an insect that was thought extinct was actually living right on your doorstep.

IMAGINE coming face to face with a spider that could kill you or a beetle that could destroy all the trees in Ipswich.

Think of the excitement of realising an insect that was thought extinct was actually living right on your doorstep.

Within the last few months docks workers have found a deadly Black Widow spider dangling from a container and a tree-eating beetle scurrying out from a pallet of ceramic pots.

These bugs have all turned up on David Lampard's desk.

He looks after a collection of insects at Ipswich Museum and says it is not just the common caterpillar or green fly that he has to deal with.

He said: "With so much being brought in from abroad insects are often hitching a ride into the country.

"The Black Widow recently made it into Ipswich docks from America and had it not been discovered straight away it could have easily survived the whole of the summer in the UK.

"Workers unpacking the goods at Ipswich docks found the spider and called Environmental Health.

"It wasn't until they put it in a jar that the red hour glass shape on its body was found and everyone realised how much danger they had been in.

"The Starry Sky Beetle had come from Africa and is famous for eating away at trees. If it had got away it could have proved a real threat for the county's trees.

"An Ant-Lion which is like a brown dragon fly with two sets of wings was recently found by someone in a car park. It was thought not to exist in Britain but after studying it I could confirm it does."

David has been a keeper of natural sciences for 16 years and is one of just 300 in the country.

To celebrate National Insect Week, which runs from June 14 to 20 the Ipswich Museum will be holding a Creepy Crawly Day on June 19.

He said: "There will be lots of fun and exciting things going on. A beekeeper will be coming along with a beehive for people to see and giant stick insects and hissing cockroaches will be on display. The Butterfly Conservation Group and local Natural History Group will be also here.

"There is a lot to learn about the insects in your back garden and this event hopes to highlight that."

When David is not rescuing the public from deadly insects or saving trees from being eaten, he helps people out with problems closer to home.

He said: "I identify insects to members of the public and other organisations. Put it this way if someone finds something peculiar chomping away on the plants in their garden it will normally turn up on my desk.

"People often approach the council who then come to me and I investigate exactly what it is and how to deal with it."

The Creepy Crawly Day is open from 10am-4pm and admission is free.

Also in June is the RSPB's Big Bug Count which asks for people to count the number of bugs splattered on their car's number plates after a long journey. The idea is to find out insect populations in Britain as they serve as food for birds.

Special splatometers will be provided to those who wish to take part and can be obtained from calling the hotline on 0870 787 5577.

Do you have any interesting creepy crawly stories? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk

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