Recent walks along Cooden Beach finding that the banked-up shingle from last winter remains and there is a renewed shingle pioneer plant community with Sea Rocket Cakile maritima in one place, a good patch of Rock Samphire Crithmum maritimum and widespread plants of Sea Kale Crambe maritima
Further along the beach and Silver Ragwort Senecio cineraria flowering beside Red Valarian Centranthus ruber. Two colonising and colourful summer species I associate with hot summer days here and along the Seven Sisters.
Pictured on Ragwort at West Hill Hastings, this Nomad bee is a cleptoparasite of the Mining bee Andrena flavipes.
The Andrena is a successful species with a large and widespread population in Sussex. However, the Nomad bee was formerly considered a scarce and local species in England and in recent decades only has spread through the range of its’ host.
This parasitic fly has two main hosts in Britain, the moths Oak Eggar Lasiocampa quercus and the Fox Moth Macrothylacia rubi.
Eggs are inserted into the caterpillars and the adult fly emerges from the pupa.
Hoverflies began to come in from the east and south east on Sunday morning but the movement ceased, probably due to heavy rain developing over the Continental coast. However, with hot weather on Monday there was a large immigration that lasted much of the day and again today, insects pouring inland. A number of Japanese Spindle bushes at coastal West St Leonards were thronged with hundreds of the Marmalade Fly, Episyrphus balteatus.
Along with the Marmalades were smaller numbers of other species feeding avidly on nectar. The individuals looked at were in fresh condition indicating they had recently emerged.
Hogweed Heracleum sphondyleum has come into its’ own with the fullness of summer. Broad plates of umbels comprising many flowers host a range of insects attracted to the nectar.
When the flower opens the anthers are clotted with pollen but this is soon harvested by insects, often unintentionally gathered on body and leg hairs as they clamber about to feed on the sugary secretion at the sides of the ovaries where the developing stigmas are supported.
Hogweed flowers have zygomorphic flowers on the edges of the umbel, the outer petals being larger and deeply cleft.
Using the camera I can see the way that the mouthparts of the flies grasp the ovaries. Also, the very small size of the individual pollen grains attached to some of the insect hairs.
The Soldierfly Microchrysia polita here, pictured at South Saxons, St Leonards on July 13th.