Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Cherry pollinators fest!

It was a warm, sunny afternoon and the cherry was at full bloom (three weeks earlier than last year), attracting a menagerie of bees, butterflies, queen wasps and flies. I did saw a honeybee, but I think even without this species, the cherry would be fully pollinated given the number and diversity of insects on it.
 Several bees were firsts for the year, including Bombus lapidarius, B. pascuorum and Melecta albifrons. I saw the first male red mining bee yesterday but they seemed to be everywhere today.
Bombus lapidarius queen 
Anthophora plumipes female
Queen wasp grooming
Possibly a dronefly
Male Osmia bicornis
and a Peacock also settled repeatedly on the blossom to feed
A small shining metallic wasp fell on the small pond and was rescued.
The first water beetle in the Victorian bath that makes our mini pond, awaiting ID.
Melecta albifrons, a cuckoo bee that parasitises A. plumipes, feeding on Muscari
 Melecta albifrons,  resting on a daffodil
And finally, a shot of a Red Mason Bee patrolling the Muscari.

Black Lace-Weaver wanderer

 In springtime male Black Lace weaver spiders roam in search of females. This one was dangerously walking on the pavement this morning, cold and wet from the night's rain. I took some quick shots and took him home for a white background session. The male palps look like they are holding white balls, these are the characteristically white and very visible palpar organs in this species.
 Black-lace weaver females (Amaurobius ferox), as their smaller relatives Amaurobius similis, have remarkable maternal behaviours, including guarding the spiderlings, feeding them using unfertilised eggs and then finally, encouraging them to eat their own bodies (matriphagy). For a fantastic video documenting this spider's maternal behaviour see this Arkive entry.
 More info in the British Arachnological Society page.