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.
One of them hitched a ride into the house on my shoulder and here it is sitting on the rug.
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.
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.
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.