Wednesday, 4 June 2014
A Few Flowers from the Garden, a Conopid Fly and Emperor Moth Caterpillar Update
The mini garden wildflower meadow is starting to look more colourful as more plants start flowering. It also attracts a great variety of pollinating insects.
Elsewhere in the garden geums are finally starting to flower in the herbaceous border.
Valerian - this is very popular with Silver y moths, bees and hoverflies. Hummingbird Hawkmoths apparently love these flowers too - I live in hope!!
Cranesbill Geranium - another flower the bees love
Choisya or Mexican Orange Blossom
Clematis has put on a good show this year.
A Hawthorn Shieldbug found on nettles when I was looking for caterpillars.
I spotted this rather unusual fly yesterday on valerian leaves. I couldn't find it in any of my insect books so I posted a photo on i-spot (I can highly recommend this website for help with identifying or clarifying ids of species) and very shortly I got an answer identifying it as a parasitic conopid fly - Sicus ferrugineus
The larvae are endoparasites of bumble bees of the genus Bombus - they pupate and then overwinter in their victims! Unfortunately the fly was very close to the Tree Bumble Bee (Bombus hypnorum) nest in the roof! :(
Tree Bumble Bee - photos taken before I released the two individuals from the garage in 2012 when I first saw them in the garden.
Tree Bumble bees only appeared in the UK in 2001 - they were first found in Wiltshire presumably arriving from the continent. The species has a natural distribution in mainland Europe and through Asia and even up to the Arctic circle. It has spread rapidly over England and is also now found in Wales although it hasn't yet been recorded in Scotland. It is believed its rapid colonisation is most likely due to its habit of nesting in bird boxes.
Finally, a photo of my Emperor Moth caterpillars now three weeks old. They never seem to stop munching on hawthorn and bramble leaves and are growing rapidly.
Last weekend I did a bioblitz of the garden - I'll do a post in a few days on the species I found. There are still a few insects I am trying to get down to species level!