Archive | June 2015

Bees on the Dropwort

Yesterday in Alexandra Park insects were visiting the umbels of Hemlock Water-Dropwort Oenanthe crocata which grows by ponds and by ditches. Female Mining Bees were collecting pollen into their pollen baskets (Scopa) on the hind tibia and sides of the rear of the thorax. Pollen grains were present on some anthers but many flowers appeared not to have pollen. Perhaps the pollen had already been collected.

These solitary female bees excavate their nest tunnels and chambers in the ground. Their mandible tips and wings become worn with the work. When nest cells are completed the egg chambers have to be provisioned and completed and the eggs deposited.

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Above. Andrena nitidens

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Above. Andrena chrysosceles. Present in numbers. The pollen baskets show well here. Note the facial fovea in the second picture (the whiteish patch bordering the inner margin of the eye).

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Above. Andrena haemorrhoa.

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Eumenidae

Among the Potter and Mason Wasps is Ancistrocerus gazella (Panzer, 1798). Photographed at Thorpe’s Wood Hastings today. June sees the first adults of the summer season.

The nest is made in the dried or dead stem of a plant and provisioned with moth caterpillars for the young when it hatches out. The entrance is sealed with clay.

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Hunting wasp in sunlight

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While watching insects today in a sunlit forest edge at Thorpe’s Wood, Hastings I saw a wasp appear and managed to take a number of pictures which allowed me to interpret the following episode as well as identify the participants;-

The wasp is a female of the Sphecid wasp Argogorytes mystaceus and appears perched on the underside of a bramble stem and has her abdomen placed in the spittle covering of a larva of the Common Froghopper Philaenus spumarius.

She extracts the larva and, below, masticates the prey and then departs leaving behind some remnants.

This wasp is a cavity nester and woodland edge is a favoured habitat, even on clay soil. The Froghopper is taken to stock the nest for the young wasps.

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Concealer moth and others

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This morning a small moth with the most distinctive colouration and palps was noticed resting on the wall by the front door. A member of the Oecophoridae (Concealer moths) named Alabonia geoffrella. The caterpillars live under bark of rotting wood and their habitat is woodland and wetland areas in Southern Britain.

Below. A Sawfly rests on a blade of grass. Green Alkanet, Speedwell and Cut-leaved Geranium in flower attracting many bees and other insects in the warm sunshine today. Of note were many male Bumblebees and also the wasp mimicking hoverfly Chrysotoxum cautum.

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