Wildlife Wednesday. July.

This month is the first anniversary of Tina’s lovely Wildlife in the garden meme, over at MyGardenersays blog. I always enjoy reading it and those of others who join in. I am a bit diffident about joining in myself, because American and Canadian gardeners have such exotic and glamorous garden visitors: bears, coyotes, chipmunks, racoons, gophers and aardvarks and things like that.  Um, actually, probably not aardvarks. And then all those slithery things, snakes and lizards and anoles and big fat toads.  As for the amazing birds and kaleidoscopes of exotic butteflies; they all make our creatures seem very dull.  All those fabulous humming birds and cardinals. And I am always amazed how you all get your birds to sit still and be photographed. Do you dose the birdseed with valium? I think you must.  My sparrows are far too fidgety. I am actually embarrassed to show my birds which are mostly ‘little brown jobs’  And after looking at your Monarchs and other incredible butterflies how can I say: ‘Here is rather a nice little brown moth’?

Anyway here goes, I will start with our house guests. The Tree Bumble bees, Bombus hypnorum. They are nesting under our eaves. Apparently they only arrived  from the continent about 14 years ago. They were first seen in Wiltshire and they are spreading round the country. They have a rusty brown thorax, a black abdomen and a white tail. They often nest in birdboxes and apparently have been known to evict bluetits.  The males dance around outside the nest to try and attract the attentions of the Queen.
DSC_0077
One of them hitched a ride into the house on my shoulder and here it is sitting on the rug.
DSC_0075
The jury is out as to whether these bees are ‘A Good Thing‘, or A Bad thing’. They are fantastic early pollinators which is good, and indeed I have an amazing raspberry crop so I think they have been very busy in my garden. What is not yet known is whether they are threatening our poor beleaguered honey bees, by being in competition with them. Anyway I am glad to have them and they are not aggressive as long as you leave them alone. Unlike the hornet which chased me down the garden 2 years ago and stung me, for no reason at all, apart from the fact that it was feeling a bit tetchy that day.

And now for a little white Crab Spider, Misumena vatia. I have to thank my lovely son for spotting this spider and taking the photo for me. The female in the picture is being approached by a male which is smaller than she is and brown instead of white. It looks as though she is busy eating a previous suitor.

Misumena vatia

Misumena vatia

The Crab Spider does not spin a web but she sits in flowers and waits for pollinators to arrive. She injects them with her poisonous fangs. After mating, she lays her eggs and wraps them in a leaf which she seals with a cocoon. She then stops feeding and guards her eggs until they hatch. Clearly, she is a very good mother but not a particularly good wife. Not if she is hungry anyway.

I will finish with a lovely Dragon Fly, the Four-spotted Chaser, Libellula quadrimaculata.

Four-Spotted Chaser,Libellula quadrimaculata

Four-Spotted Chaser,Libellula quadrimaculata

Americans call this a ‘Skimmer’ rather than a ‘Chaser’, which is perhaps a better name as they do skim. They don’t really chase at all.
Well thank you Tina and congratulations on a year of Wildlife Wednesdays. Do go over and read her fascinating post and all those of all the other wildlife watchers.

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42 Responses to Wildlife Wednesday. July.

  1. AnnetteM says:

    Thanks Chloris. Maybe not so exotic but interesting all the same. I didn’t know about either the Tree Bumble Bee or the Crab Spider so I really enjoyed reading your post.

  2. Tina says:

    A lovely debut for Wildlife Wednesday, Chloris. Thanks so much for reading and participating! It’s so funny that you lament your “dull” critters, because I love reading about what’s living in Europe (besides the Europeans…). Interesting about your new bumble bee. I love bumbles and we don’t seem to have many anymore. Sad. Hornets and wasps are definitely more aggressive than the wild bees–that’s true here as well. And your crab spider–we have those, or certainly, relatives, and they’re fascinating too. Glad you joined in and I look forward to more!

  3. What a wonderfully entertaining yet informative post. I am a new follower of your blog, Chloris, but love your sense of fun. The proclivities of the female crab spider had me in stitches. Thank you!

  4. Chloris — lovely photos! I haven’t seen a Bumble Bee in ages so I was glad to catch a glimpse of one through your post. Your luck runs along my own lines — I unknowingly carried a wasp into the house with me last summer. I received a memorable sting on the hip as I was changing clothes, and a huge, hot, red spot that lasted several weeks! Great picture of the spider. I’m sure it has some distant relatives in this part of the world but I haven’t looked closely enough to find one. And what a beautiful closeup of a Dragonfly. In my yard it’s the Dragonflies that won’t sit still for a photo. As soon as they catch any movement from me, off they go! A very enjoyable post! Thanks for sharing.

    • Chloris says:

      An but you couldn’ t blame the wasp for stinging you, he probably wssn’ t being vindictive like that hornet which chased me. Like yours the sting was incredibly painful. The side of my head was throbbing and my neck was swollen. I am terrified of them now.

  5. Brian Skeys says:

    Thanks for the info about the Tree Bumble Bee, Chloris. You may of helped settle a ‘discussion’ about them the other day. The male of the insect world does seem to have drawn the short straw of life!

    • Chloris says:

      The Tree Bumble Bees are quite distinctive and they appear to be ubiquitous now. I think this is good news for pollination though, it looks as if we are going to have a bumper plum crop.

  6. Debra says:

    Wow! These photos are great. That photo of the crab spider is amazing and the closeup on that dragonfly is so clear. That’s interesting about the bee. I was kind of under the (incorrect) assumption that things in the UK must have settled into a stable pattern long ago but apparently not. It is a pretty cute little bee — hope they behave themselves. I kind of think that when a new species moves in sometimes they are replacing something missing. It doesn’t always have to be bad news.

    • Chloris says:

      We have 24 species of bumble bees here already so I don’ t see why this extra one should be a problem. They are rather cute and apparently only aggressive if you bother them, but I am too frightened to water a wilting Clematis just under them.

  7. snowbird says:

    I always feel that our wildlife is less glamourous than some countries, but I love it all the same.
    EEK…..the white crab spider eating her former mate has me a shuddering, not that I’m scared of spiders, just feel sorry for the boys! Ouch re the hornet…..I disturbed a wasps nest once a was chased by a buzzing angry swarm across the lawn……escaped without a sting though, doubt I could out-run them now. Wonderful pics and dialogue….as always!xxx

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Dina. I am very impressed that you could outrun wasps. I am always a bit worried in Summer when I am thrashing about in the undergrowth in case I disturb a nest.
      I like our wildlife too and I certainly don’t want anything more exotic.

  8. mattb325 says:

    Interesting to see a new bumble-bee arrive in the UK. Bumble bees have largely been kept out of Australia as they do compete with our native bees (which are like honey bees only solitary). They were accidentally introduced into Tasmania many years ago with terrible consequences, so I hope that they don’t compete with the poor honey bees

    • Chloris says:

      Well we have plenty of other bumble bees in the UK, about 24 species I believe and the others seem to coexist quite happily with the honey bee. So let’ s hope this one will too.

  9. I thought this post was funny. :o) Texas does have aardvarks and Georgia has wild pigs, which are huge, nasty things. Hornets are jerks. Birds don’t sit still for me, either, so I rarely have any pics of them. :o) But your bee is a very cute.

    • Chloris says:

      Texas has Aardvarks? Really? I didn’ t know that. But then for a long time I thought they were made up animals like Lewis Carroll’ s Bandersnatch or the Jubjub bird. In fact I just looked at a picture of one and I still think they are made up animals. But they don’ t fool me.

  10. Kris P says:

    This is a marvelous post, Chloris! You got an excellent photo of the dragonfly and how considerate of the bee to follow you inside for a close-up. I hesitate about joining the wildlife posts for similar reasons – squirrels don’t deserve the coverage and I can usually only catch birds when they’re in my fountain (and even those photos require a great deal of patience and stealth).

    • Chloris says:

      I am glad you have the same problem as me Kris. But couldn’ ‘ t you lurk about outside at night and get a shot of that destructive racoon?

  11. pbmgarden says:

    Your posts are never fail to be entertaining. I’ve encountered Crab Spiders here too, but never with such incriminating evidence.

  12. You’ve had some fun and fascinating garden visitors! Now, adding valium to the bird food…hmmmm…nah. 😉 I’d have to agree that the hummingbirds are pretty nifty. But the “little brown jobs” are just as fascinating to me as the brightly colored birds. Actually, my favorite bird is a “little black and white job”: the Black-Capped Chickadee. I enjoy their songs, their flight prowess, their friendliness, and the fact that they’re with me year-round. Your dragonfly photo is awesome!

  13. I saw some of the tree bumble bees in Yorkshire. Hope they turn out to be a good thing, they were certainly very busy.

  14. Flighty says:

    I found myself nodding and smiling in agreement reading your first paragraph. Mind you I’m rather thankful that I don'[t come across much of the wildlife that you mention.
    Wonderful pictures. xx

    • Chloris says:

      I know, we are nice and safe outside apart from the odd wasp or hornet and I am very glad. I would never go into the garden if we had poisonous snakes or spiders.

  15. homeslip says:

    I am very impressed by your Dragon fly photo (and your naming of it too). I took one in flight the other day, pure fluke as they move so fast. And your potager is wonderful, you really do have the complete garden. The Pianist is a gem, but you don’t need me to tell you that!

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you, but I have been admiring your very productive allotment which is so much better organised.
      Yes, I shall certainly be keeping my lovely Pianist although he doesn’t appear in the garden very often, apart from seeking out his hammock on hot days.

  16. Excellent photos, though also kind of alarming in the case of the spiders. I hope your new bumblebee turns out to be a good neighbor.

  17. Cathy says:

    I am sure there will be lions and tigers and bears lurking out there at the bottom of your garden but perhaps they only come out at night… 😉 Thanks for the tree bumble ID as I am now pretty confident this is what we have a lot of for the first time. Do we we know why they are B ‘hypnorum’? Do they have unusual sleeping habits? Must look it up.

    • Chloris says:

      Nothing to do with their sleeping habits. ‘ Hypnorum’ is the genitive of moss. So it means ‘of the mosses’ I can’ t think why it should be called that though.

  18. Anna says:

    Our “critters” may be dull in comparison to others but that suits me Chloris:) There might be too may screams coming from this direction otherwise. We too think we have tree bumble bees nesting under our eaves this year. They appear to be on the march.

    • Chloris says:

      I would be too scared to go into the garden if we had bears or poisonous snakes and spiders. So I am very glad too. Suddenly Tree Bumble Bees are everywhere. I have so many plums developing on my trees, I wonder if I have the bees to thank for this.

  19. Anca Tîrcă says:

    Wildlife, always surprising! Nice meme, didn’ t know about it! Lovely photos, Chloris, thanks for sharing!

  20. Peter/Outlaw says:

    I like your wildlife shots, especially the beautiful dragonfly! Happy gardening!

  21. Chloris says:

    Thank you Peter, the dragonfly very obligingly sat still for me. I wouldn’ t like to be a wildlife photographer. Everything is constantly on the move.

  22. Great shots and I love crab spiders…so cool to watch.

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