For illustrated talks on natural history and history see

For illustrated talks on natural history and history click here for

Sunday 27 May 2018

My West Sussex garden today

Click the video link for Oedemera nobilis, or Fat-thighed Flower beetle; Garden Bumblebees, Bombus Hortorum;  Teneral damselflies -- ones that have just emerged and are pale colored.  The really pale one is an Azure damselfly and the pale Large Red Damselfly teneral has a green thorax.  The pair "in tandem" have adult, mature colors,  Enjoy.

Wednesday 23 May 2018

Gardening and lawns: a cultural dichotomy -- stripes (weed free) or wildflower (mini-meadow).

The best way to kill weeds is to start by killing the most weeds first, and then moving on to harder to kill weeds. Getting rid of weeds is actually easier than most people think. Ref:

Related image
In the UK your existing lawn can be removed (i.e. poisoned) by commercial "lawn care" companies by weed killer and best Fescue and Rye cultivars reseeded for a monoculture specific (or more accurately diculture) lawn.  Or you might even lay plastic imitation grass to eliminate nature entirely.  Foxes evidently still poo on plastic grass though, it seems.

Alternatively, allow "weeds", native flowers that is, to thrive.  Instead of a monocutural desert you may delight in what follows...

CAUTION: "Stripey lawn mentalities" must be abandoned to avoid PTSD (Post Transformed Single species, stripey lawn to Diverse species wonderland) anxiety, which might upset rigid domestic routines.

Consider carefully how life might be challenged if, instead of worshipping a lawn, (i.e. religiously mowing, scarifying, drenching in feed and weedkiller) you must relax and just watch nature's wonderful wildlife... as some pictures below from a High Weald garden in West Sussex, UK from today show.

Wildflower lawn achieved by not mowing and spreading some Yellow Rattle seeds.

Yellow Rattle is loved by bees and reduces grass vigour: it is hemi-parasitic on grasses.

Solitary bee on Cat's-ear flower

A patch of Mouse-ear-hawkweed, Pilosella officinarum allowed to thrive

 Mouse-ear-hawkweed, Pilosella officinarum

Honeybee on Mouse-ear-hawkweed, Pilosella officinarum

Honeybee on Mouse-ear-hawkweed, Pilosella officinarum

Malachite beetle, Malachius bipustulatus on buttercup. The adult beetle feeds largely on pollen.

Pollen beetles on Ox-eye Daisy

 Greenfinches enjoying eating the flowers.  They and Greenfinches too, love to eat Cat's-ear leaves in the lawn.

Bumblebees love wildflowers too!
The dichotomy: to kill nature or embrace it.
A simple cultural decision.

It is your choice.

Click on any picture to expand it.
For a talk on this matter please see:

Monday 21 May 2018

Secondary genitalia mating of Large Red Damselflies

This afternoon a couple of Large Red Damselflies happened to be initiating their mating process as I walked by.
Having started his seduction process by grabbing the female firmly by her neck, he curled his abdomen up and transferred sperm from his primary genitalia below the eighth abdominal segment to a secondary site below his secondary segment as shown above.

 He then entices her to curl around and couple her reproductive organs to his secondary sperm-containing second segment.

 After a bit of fumbling coupling was achieved in the characteristic "wheel" position.

For details of my talk see on Damselflies and Dragonflies click here
Click on any picture to expand it.

Tuesday 15 May 2018

Big-headed Mining Bee, Andrena bucephala and Red Mason Bee, Osmia bicornis in my garden yesterday.

 A very early flowering blackberry cultivar attracts many insects now including this big-headed solitary bee.  It looks like a Big-headed Mining Bee.

 Above looks like a male Red Mason Bee, Osmia bicornis whilst below, collecting pollen is clearly a female Red Mason Bee.  Males don't do any such work to provision a nest.

Click on any picture to expand it.
And for my talk The extraordinary lives of wild bees and the important role of gardeners in their survival. click here

Saturday 12 May 2018

Early-purple Orchids with pollinating Common Carder Bee on Wolstonbury Hill, West Sussex today.

 An overcast morning with spits of rain and a temperature of 12 degrees Celsius at the foot of the hill was unfavourable for insects.

Common Twayblades

On this orchid a Common Carder Bee was comatose: alive but hardly responsive.

 Its sleepy state enabled these close-up photo's of its head with orchid pollinia (pollen bearing packets) stuck to it.

Click on any picture to expand it.
See also
And my talk on bees at

Friday 11 May 2018

Early-spider Orchids, Isle of Purbeck last Wednesday

From Worth Matravers it is a short walk, c. 4.5miles along the Priest's Way and down to the cliffs at Dancing Ledge. Above, impressive flights of strip lynchets of the former open fields of Worth Matraverse.  and

View to Swanage

 The meadows to the west of Dancing Ledge are the finest place to see these orchids in the UK.  There are thousands of them.

Orchid with cowslip

Orchid with milkwort

Orchid with daisies

going to seeds
Click on any picture to enlarge it.
And if you book public speakers, you may like my talk on native orchids detailed at

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