Of mining bees and bee-flies, butterflies, thorn moths, and hatching frogspawn. Wednesday 31 March 2021
We have had bumble bee queens bumbling around looking for nests for some time now, but 22 March saw the first mining bee in the garden. This was the Short-fringed Mining Bee, Andrea dorsata, (image 1) and, like most mining bees, they dig vertical holes in the ground in which to lay their eggs.
To shouts of great glee, on 23 March, the first bee-fly appeared on our primroses; this was the less common Dotted Bee-fly, Bombylius discolor, (image 2). Then on 29 March the first of the more common Dark-edged Bee-flies, Bombylius major, (image 3) appeared feeding on both kingcups and primroses. Bee-flies are parasitic on mining bees and flick their eggs into mining bee burrows where their larvae feed on the mining bee larvae. It is well worth checking your primroses for bee-flies; look for them hovering in front of the flowers and using their long proboscis to probe deep into the flowers to reach the nectar.
While looking for bee-flies, this Comma Butterfly (image 4) landed close to me. Other butterflies around at the moment, when the sun appears, include brimstones, peacocks and small tortoiseshells.
The moth trap has produced several of the spectacular Early Thorn moths (image 5). These moths rest with their wings closed rather like butterflies.
Our frogspawn has recently hatched and we now have masses of closely clustered small wriggling tadpoles (image 6). Interestingly, some of these young tadpoles are olive coloured, others are brighter green and most are reddish brown; a variety of colours I have never noticed before.