As the weather cools and dampens, it is tempting to assume there won't be much left to see insect-wise, but as soon as the rain pauses the Small Things reappear. Perhaps not in such great buzzing numbers as during the warmer, dryer months, but they are present none-the-less,if you have the patience to look for them.
Three species of shieldbug were roaming the garden over the weekend. The first is an instar (baby) Green Shieldbug, then a Hairy Shieldbug, 2 instar Dock Bugs and a final instar Green Shieldbug.
The Dock Bugs have been loving the raspberries- every time I pick some I have to be careful to remove the bugs. Yesterday I managed to pick, wash, dry and very nearly freeze a tiny weeny hairy shieldbug instar who was saved at the last moment by waving his legs at me. They resemble nothing so much as very small perfectly round buttons when they're that young :o)
Earwigs can often be found inside flowers, where they hide from the sun or the rain during the day... Can you spot this one, head down, bum up?
Then there are hoverflies, still busy nectaring from the late summer blooms. This one is a common species, Helophilus pendulus, also known as The Footballer because of the stripy thorax, but more properly called the 'Dangling Marsh Lover' (from the Greek helo: marsh, phil: love, pend: dangle or hang). They are visible all summer long from April to November right across the British Isles.
Hoverflies use a form of camo called Batesian Mimicry. This means they look like dangerous insects such as wasps in their coloration but are actually harmless themselves. They rely on the connection other creatures make with the black and yellow to keep them safe but they have no stings themselves.
Also not remotely dangerous to us but pretty unpleasant if you happen to be a moth larvae, is this rather splendid chap, an Ichneumon deliratorius.
They are parasites of Noctuid moths. The Noctuidae are the largest family of moths so these parasitic wasps have plenty of food to choose from. You'll find them all round the UK in any flower-rich meadow, woodland or garden. This is the second one I've seen this year, sitting on a buddleia leaf.
There are still some freshly-emerged flutters oot and aboot too. We found this brand new Comma sunbathing on a hedge yesterday while walking the dogs through some farmland. Commas have two/ three generations in a year, the final one or two of which will over-winter as adults and emerge when the warmth returns next Spring.
Incidentally, I watched a Hummingbird Hawkmoth feeding on some buddleia (sadly not in our garden) on Saturday. Only the third one I have seen this summer. And no camera with me! He was there for ages beside three Small Torts, a Peacock and a Painted Lady. Not for nothing is buddleia called The Butterfly Bush :o)
Typical of this between-seasons time is the mix of summertime flowers with the fruits, berries and mushrooms more redolent of autumn that can now be found out in the countryside.
We've been picking sporadic blackberries from the hedges whilst out on walks but have yet to go proper Blackberrying, and I keep meaning to visit Mottisfont and look for the wild plums that grow in the trees that line the lanes there. Last year there was a goodly crop which came home in some unused dog poo bags. Needs Must, eh?
L goes back to school on Fri so perhaps I'll get a chance in the next week or two, although work is piling up in preparation for college and my new job too...
Here are M and J nibbling berries from the hedges with T and P...
And here's a basket of home-grown spinach we had with a stir-fry last night, picked fresh from the garden...
...and some Humourous Carrots, likewise fresh from the earth and eaten raw and unpeeled (I wondered, as I was eating them, how many get thrown out before reaching the shops because they aren't dead straight and therefore acceptable to The Modern Discerning Shopper's eyes? Most of ours have come out of the earth wonky...)
So although things are turning there is still plenty to see and learn about outdoors. These two are a Good Example. Are they Bees, Robber Flies, Hoverflies or Bumblebee Mimics? I can't decide so if you know please shout :o)
I'll leave you with an Interested Sow who thought blackberries sounded like just the ticket for a Very Hungry Piggy...
Happy Bank Holiday Monday if you're in the UK, and a Happy Monday to you anyway if you're not.
Hope all are well?