Sunday 2 September 2012

Forked tailed flower bee on common toadflax

I planted a new bed with native flowers earlier in the year: foxgloves, hedge woundwort, common toadflax, oregano and bird's foot trefoil. It has been very popular with bees and other insects, but there was the one plant that I hadn't seen being visited: the common toadflax, Linaria vulgaris. This relative of the snapdragon has spikes of closed flowers that require some effort for insect to access the nectar and pollen. On top of that, the flower has a very long spur which contains the nectar, so only long-tongued bees can reach the nectar - barring nectar robbers which will make a hole in the spur. The wait was worth its while, as last week, later than I have seen this species before, a female Anthophora furcata turned up and fed on all available flowers, collecting the pollen. She was also pollinating the flower, you might see the flower's anther pushing against the bee's head. The bee came back again the same day for another visit. She had large bare patches on the abdomen and thorax, but still showed the characteristic fringe of red hairs at the end of the abdomen. The flowers are beautiful, it is a native plant and it attracts one of my favourite bees, what else can one ask for?

UPDATE 20/09/12
Since writing this post, I have watched the long tongued bumblebee Bombus pascuorum visiting these flowers too.

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