Thursday, 21 July 2011

Angelica time

The Angelica flowered this week, so for the next 3 weeks I will concentrate on nectaring insects. Angelica is a major source of nectar for bees, flies, hoverflies, wasps, sawflies, ichneumonids, beetles and various bugs, so it's always worth a close look.

Here's a shot of the impressive flowerheads just before they burst open:

Angelica opening

As I was walking between Angelica plants, I saw a dead bumblebee lying on the path, but it suddenly moved.  I looked closer, and saw that one of the Formica ants was pulling it laboriously over the path, presumably towards its nest:

Dead bumblebee being dragged by Wood Ant
Progress was rather slow, since the bee's claws kept getting stuck on stones, and the ant had to keep going back to free them. This slow progress went on for a while, and then the ant seemed to pause for a moment, then it went under the bee and somehow managed to flip it over onto its back. The ant went back to pulling the bee and progress was much faster, since the bee was sliding along on its glossy wings and the claws were safely in the air:
Bee after the ant had flipped it over

The whole procedure was watched by the much smaller red ant to the left of the first image.

It's clear that ants have great strength, but it also appears that they have reasoning power, too.

Cixius nervosus is one of the leafhoppers, and can be distinguished by the triple 'keels' on the thorax, and the lacy veins on the wings:

The leafhopper Cixius nervosus

Crane Flies are the 'Daddy Longlegs' that are so numerous at this time of year:

Cranefly on Cleavers
Their larvae are the 'leatherjackets' that eat the roots of grasses, often ruining large areas of lawn.

I rather like the way the leaves of the Cleavers mimic the legs of the Cranefly on that shot.


Emma Springfield said...

I just wrote about giant hogweed which is in the same family as Angelica. They are lovely to look at but some members of the family are not nice to deal with. Interesting about the bee and ants.

Rob said...

I wish I had the problem solving skills of that ant!

Gerry Snape said...

Fantastic info. and great pics. Thankyou.

Gerry Snape said...

Fantastic info. and great pics. Thankyou.

Gill said...

"I wish I had the problem solving skills of that ant!" Me too... it's even worked out it needs to pull the bee forwards so its wings don't snag.

That leafhopper is exquisite with those lacy wings. Nature is truly wonderful if you look closely.