Sunday, 15 April 2012

Sun's back

After a couple of weeks of rain, sleet and hail, things have warmed up again. Various Solitary Bees have been nectaring, and I spotted my favourite bee - Andrena cineraria - as she gathered pollen from a Dandelion:

The solitary bee Andrena cineraria
I always think they look like they're wearing Barbarians rugby jerseys. Here's a side shot:

Andrena cineraria
Andrenas (and other families of Solitary Bees) lay eggs in their own nesting tunnels, and although they might form communal 'villages' of individual nests, the female feeds only her own larvae with pollen. Nomada sp. Cuckoo Bees are ever present near the nests, hoping to get an opportunity to nip in and steal the pollen store when the female is out foraging.

Bilberry (locally called Mulberry) has flowered:

Bilberry flowers
Bilberry is a vital food source for a number of insects, most notably the Green Hairstreak butterfly. I like the way the unopened flower can sometimes contain water droplets:

Unopened Bilberry flowers
I have a number of different species of Fumitory on my patch. This is Common Fumitory, which gets its name from the grey-green foliage which can look a little smoky:

Common Fumitory

The local Willows are all in full leaf now, so it's time for the various Willow Leaf Beetles (Chrysomelids) to appear. This is Lochmaea caprea, which I happened to spot as it sunbathed on my recycling bin (which happens to be right under a Willow):

Willow Leaf Beetle - Lochmaea caprea

The Willow leaves will soon be showing the attentions of the beetle larvae as they eat off the top surface of the leaves.

I also spotted a few Bibio sp. (St. Marks Flies), which usually emerge around St. Mark's day (April 25th), so we're still running slightly ahead of schedule this year despite the last two cold weeks.


Caroline Gill said...

An interesting selection! I love the bee ...

Toffeeapple said...

Another very informative post, thank you. I have some form of solitary Bee in the lawn, I can see the tunnel openings.