As the summer wears on, insect life in the garden becomes more and more visible: August is perhaps the zenith of the insect gardener's year.
The continuing warm weather over last weekend brought a host of insects into the garden. First I identified a wasp as a 'tree wasp' (Dolichovespula sylvestris
) and having identified one, it seemed that almost all the other wasps I saw in the garden from then on were of this type (apart from a few common wasps, Vespula vulgaris
). Most of the wasps are clearly still too busy with their nests to make much of a nuisance of themselves; quickly moving on is search of prey to feed to the larvae back at the nest. They're so active and purposeful at the moment that it's very hard to get a good look at them and I tried, without success, to tempt passing wasps onto some jam in order to photograph and study them better. I'll try again in a few weeks.
Butterflies were at their most abundant, the most common being small and large whites (Artogeia rapae
and Pieris brassicae
), small tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae
) and peacock (Inachis io
) though I have also seen speckled wood (Pararge aegeria
), gatekeeper (Pyronia tithonus
) and painted lady (Cynthia cardui
) this month.
Having identified the heather fly (Bibio pomonae
) in the garden for the first time a few days ago, now it seems that I can't go into the garden without seeing one! I've seen a couple on the surface of the pond where they have fallen 'victim' to the scavenging pond skaters (Gerris lacustris
). On each of these occasions the dead fly was surrounded by four of five pond skaters (which normally don't tolerate each other). They pond skaters were feeding on the dead flies by sucking up their 'juices' through specially adapted mouthparts. When they were finished, only the empty exoskeletons of the flies were left. It's nature, red in tooth and claw, down on the garden pond!