Garden Robin

Garden Robin

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Hornet Hoverfly, Butterflies, Razzmatazz, Leaf Cutter Bees and Moths

I first spotted this Hornet Hoverfly (Volucella zonaria) in the garden yesterday on Astrantia flowers but by the time I had fetched the camera it had gone. Luckily, it returned today and I managed to get a few record shots.

It looks like a stinging hornet but is actually quite harmless. The mimicry helps to protect the hoverfly from predators, such as birds.

The Hornet Hoverfly first colonised England in the 1940's. Initially, it was rare and confined to the south and south-east but climate change and warming temperatures have resulted in it moving northwards and it has now been spotted in Cheshire.

Its larvae live in the nests of social wasps in a symbiotic relationship where the larvae keep the nest clean by feeding on debris and rubbish.

Apart from the fact that Astrantia has attracted this new garden hoverfly "tick", I have fallen totally in love with it. I first spotted it last year at Coughton Court where I bought this plant. Colours of the flowers vary from white, to light pink, mid pink and a beautiful deep pink. I would love a border full of this and Cosmos.

Marjoram has started to flower and today attracted a pair of Gatekeeper (Pyronia tithinus) butterflies.

A photo of one of the butterflies on Cranesbill Geranium leaves

Marjoram flowers

Last year I also bought an Echinacea Razzmatazz from one of the NT properties I visited - the flowers are a real delight :)

I still haven't managed to get a photo this year of Leaf Cutter bees but here you can see they are using the new bee "hotel"

We've had a lot of rain overnight recently so I haven't put the moth trap out but here a few moths from when I last trapped.

Shuttle-shaped Dart (Agrotis puta)

Common Footman (Eilema lurideola) - New for Year

Marbled Beauty (Bryophila domestica0

Mottled Rustic (Caradrina morpheus) - New for Year

Scalloped Oak (worn!) (Crocallis elonguaria0

Elephant Hawk-moth (Deilephila elpenor )

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Hoverflies, Bees and Big Butterfly Count

The garden is full of bees and hoverflies at the moment.

Yesterday I spotted a new hoverfly species for the garden (I've only been trying to identify them more seriously since last summer). I thought it was one of the Scaeva species probably the Lunar Hoverfly but several people on Twitter have identified it as a Pied Hoverfly - Scaeva pyrastri. This species is found in gardens, wastelands and meadows and it is thought that few survive the winter so breeding populations rely on migrants from mainland Europe.

Pied Hoverfly

and a different uncropped photo. The flowers on my Rat-tailed radishes are attracting a lot of hoverfly species.

There are dozens of Marmalade Hoverflies round the garden - Episyrphus balteatus. Not the best of photos - these insects zoom around so much it is really hard to get a decent picture.

This is a common species of hoverfly - the larvae are predators of aphids. I do hope they lay plenty of eggs on my Echinops plants as there are very few flowers forming thanks to a massive aphid attack :(

The week after the holiday we had a Banded Demoiselle in the garden - I didn't get a photo but its a new garden tick :)

Last year I fell in love with Astrantia and bought a plant from Coughton Court. Its doing really well this year and is proving a magnet for pollinators - here one of the white-tailed bumble bees enjoying the nectar. It almost seemed drunk and didn't move in the half an hour I was in the garden.

Today I was planning to visit a wood about an hour's journey away in search of Purple Emperor, Purple Hairstreak, White Admiral and Silver Washed Fritillary but, for various reasons, the trip has been postponed so I decided to do my first Big Butterfly Count, organised by Butterfly Conservation.

I was really chuffed to see a Large Skipper - I've only seen Skippers in the garden on 3 occasions in all the years we've lived here.

Other butterflies seen were Gatekeeper x 2 (the first this year)

Speckled Wood x 2

and Large White x 1

The main lawn is covered in clover at the moment attracting Common Carder Bees and this the first Red-tailed Bumble Bee of the year.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015


Apologies for the lack of posts but my desktop finally gave up the ghost at the end of last week so we've had to buy a new computer which B is slowly setting up. This is really just a test post of a few garden moths I trapped last week - all the moths were new for this year.

Clouded Border (Lomaspilis marginata)
Common in woods, marshes, riverbanks and heathland. Larvae feed on Aspen, Poplar, Sallow, Willow and Hazel.

A worn Dark Arches (Apamea monoglypha)
Common in gardens, hedgerows, woods and road verges. Larvae feed on various grasses.

Buff Arches (Habrosyne pyritoides)
Common in woods, hedges and gardens. Larvae feed on Bramble and Dewberry

Marbled Beauty (Bryohila domestica)
Common on moors, woods and around old buildings. Larvae feed on various lichens. Adult moth has brilliant camouflage :)

Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing (Noctua fimbriata)
Common woods, parks, heaths and gardens. Larvae feed on deciduous trees, for example, Birch, Sallow and Sycamore

Flame Shoulder (Ochropleura plecta)
Common in many habitats. Larvae feed on herbaceous plants, for example, Groundsel, Ribworth Plantain, Bedstraws.

Lozotaeniodes formosana
First recorded in Surrey in 1945 and slowly spreading. Common in pine woodlands. Larvae feed on Scots Pine.

Poplar Grey (Subaonicta megacephala) Hopefully, id is correct as I have been known to get my Poplar Grey and Knot Grass mixed up!!
Common in parks, woods and gardens. Larvae feed on Poplars and Aspen.

Swallow-tailed Moth (Ourapteryx sambucaria)
Common woods, parks, hedges and gardens. Larvae feed on various woody plants e.g. Blackthorn, Hawthorn, Elder, Horse Chestnut and Ivy.You don't need a moth trap to see this species as I often find it indoors or fluttering at lighted house windows.

Also in the moth trap Uncertain x 23, Heart and Dart x 11, Garden Grass-veneer x 8 (NFY), Large Yellow Underwing x 1 and a Silver Y.

I only have limited time on the new computer at the moment as B sets it up. Unfortunately, he has decided that rather than clogging up the new hard drive, I now have to upload photos onto an external drive from the camera - a totally new way of doing things to learn and very time consuming as I really don't have clue what I am doing :( But I will catch up with your blogs over the next few days and Amanda, I haven't forgotten the Yorkshire churchyards I have mislaid the note I made! but will let you know as soon as I find it and can get back on the computer!!!

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Lime Hawk-moth

Sorry for lack of posts recently but we've been away for a week to the Isle of Wight.

The highlight from a moth trapping session just before we left was this Lime Hawk-moth (Mimas tiliae)

I usually trap this species a couple of times a year. Its a fairly common species especially in suburban areas where newly emerged adults can often be seen on the trunks of Lime trees.

The larva feeds on Lime, English Elm, Birch and Alder.

Leaf Cutter bees have started to use the new bee house and some are also using the one we have had for years. Will try and get some photos next week.