Invertebrates Technical Factsheets from FWAG

Invertebrates of Deciduous Woodland


Ancient broadleaved woodland is an irreplaceable habitat. Its great antiquity and diverse structure (from the tops of the trees to decaying floor litter) make it of tremendous value to invertebrates.

Fauna: e.g. snail hunter

Large (15-19mm) dull black ground beetle with very narrow fore parts, specially adapted to feeding on snails in their shells. Adults live under stones, under loose bark and in litter, usually in woodland but often in other habitats, particularly moorland. Widespread and fairly common species.

Snail hunter (Cychrus caraboides)


National BAP priority habitat. Many of the invertebrate species of deciduous woodland perform vital tasks such as recycling dead material, predation of pest species (such as aphids) and pollination. They also have an important place in the food chain, supporting local populations of small mammals, birds, etc.

Beneficial management

  • Maintain traditional woodland management such as rotational coppicing. Aim to create a varied age structure, from new growth to mature standards through to dead or over-mature trees.
  • Maintain internal rides and glades. These areas are particularly important areas for woodland butterflies.
  • Create diversity at the woodland edge by encouraging scrub and rough grass margins.
  • Consider buffering woodlands with extended field margins through set-aside or agri-environment schemes.
  • Consider targeting new planting either adjacent to or connected to existing woods.
  • Ensure connecting hedgerows are maintained as corridors between otherwise isolated woods. Consider rotational cutting or restoration as required.
  • Leave dead wood in situ unless it poses a safety concern e.g. adjacent to roads or footpaths. Dead wood on living trees is an important habitat for many rare invertebrates.

Photo gallery 

Click <here> to view photographs of some important invertebrates of deciduous woodland.

Further information

For further information including possible grant aid contact your local FWAG Adviser and visit the FWAG website at

See also FWAG Technical Factsheet 15 and 34.

Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy in the information sheet. However, FWAG cannot accept liability for any errors or omission.
Photographs Roger Key, English Nature
Author: Roger Key, English Nature
41.1 Jan 2004

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