For illustrated talks on natural history and history see www.peterlovetttalks.co.uk

For illustrated talks on natural history and history click here for www.peterlovetttalks.co.uk

Friday, 27 March 2020

Bee-flies: lots of them today in West Sussex.

One bumblebee queen and lots flies in the garden today.  And seemingly dozens of Bee-flies.
I like these remarkable parasites and here are some shots from today in my garden.








Click on any picture to expand.

7-spot Ladybird on Barren Strawberry, my garden, West Sussex today.

 Another sunny day today and a single 7-spot Ladybird appeared.

Adults hibernate in hollow plant stems and cavities, sometimes clustering together in large numbers. The 7-spot ladybird is also a migratory species: large numbers fly in from the continent every spring, boosting our native population.

The life cycle of a ladybird consists of four phases: the egg; the larval stage, during which the larva undergoes a series of moults; the pupa, in which the larva develops into an adult; and the adult phase, during which the female lays eggs in batches of up to 40.  source; https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/wildlife-explorer/invertebrates/beetles/7-spot-ladybird 


 Someone once asked me, "How do you know the names of all these plants?"
The answer is simple: one at a time.  And, retired now for 12 years there has been a lot of species to see and learn. 
This plant is the Barren Strawberry: Potentilla sterelis.  So called as the ripe fruits do not become fleshy and red.  source; The Wild Flower Key.  https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-wild-flower-key/francis-rose/9780723251750




Thursday, 26 March 2020

Aneka's Biology lesson, Thursday 26th March 2020: Ground Ivy


We looked at Ivy and Bee-flies.  Here is another Bee-fly on Ground-ivy.  You can see its fixed proboscis, its feeding tube, as it hovers over a Ground-ivy flower.
Despite its name, Ground-ivy is actually a member of the dead-nettle family and is not closely related to Ivy. It is an evergreen, creeping plant of woodlands, hedgerows and damp ground. It often forms clumps, spreading by means of overground runners that frequently root. It has a strong smell and violet flowers that appear from March until June.   source; https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/wildlife-explorer/wildflowers/ground-ivy 
The Bee-fly can suck nectar from such long flowers with its relatively long proboscis.
Remember that the Bee-fly is parasitic on solitary bees.  And many other parasitic insects feed on this flower too.
This is a Nomad Bee from 6th April 2017 in my Cuckfield garden on Ground-ivy.  Nomad bees are tiny, wasp-like, kleptoparasites (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kleptoparasitism) which will target unsealed pollen-stocked nest cells created by their Mining bee hosts and lay their own eggs inside.  Look out for them in the coming days.  source; https://www.bumblebeeconservation.org/goodens-nomad-bee/

Here is another species, a  Broad-banded Nomad Bee, in my garden from 16th May 2016


And on the same date in my garden, another kleptoparasitic bee, a Common Mourning Bee on Ground-ivy.  https://www.bumblebeeconservation.org/mourningbee/   Note its five eyes.  Click to expand the pic's.
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