The total number of species in our garden (and that's everything from plants to newts to birds to butterflies, including plants we've introduced) currently stands at 588, divided thusly:
Other invertebrate- 68
It's a really interesting project to run; it can take up as much or as little of your time as you want to give it (although if you're like me you'll get Quite Obsessed and spend much of your spare time crawling on your hands and knees staring at blades of grass with camera in one hand and pen and paper in the other, while your tongue sticks out between your teeth in concentration and your husband falls about laughing as you try to capture a wiggly insect on film).
It makes no difference whether your garden is huge or tiny. You'll find insects in a plant pot or under a stone in any garden, and pollinators will of course fly in to flowers anywhere, and birds will come to feeders, and butterflies to nectar sources etc etc....
I have learnt a HUGE amount by studying the flora and fauna in our garden and firmly believe that this is the best way to reverse the trend in extinctions and population losses that our wild things have been subject to over the last century.
This kind of Citizen Science is the way forward - it provides VAST amounts of data in very quick time to organisations that would otherwise take years to pull together a similar mass of information; it doesn't have to wait for Governments to pull their finger out and pass laws; it doesn't have to wait for scientific arguments to be settled and the latest theory to be examined: it can simply get on with making things better for wildlife immediately.
The truth is that if we all made even a few small changes to our gardens we could provide an ENORMOUS cache of food and breeding resources for a great many creatures. Better still, if we can persuade our neighbours to join us then we would create huge wildlife corridors linking up all round the country which would help combat the threat that isolated pockets of populations face.
There is another reason to do all of the above as well: it's extremely good for the soul. If you've had a crappy day there is nothing more cheering, restorative and soothing than wandering around your garden looking at flowers and watching butterflies or buzzy people nectaring on them. It is (and I say this with authority) even better at soothing, lightening and restoring the spirit than a glass of strong gin and tonic at the end of a long day :-)
Before I stop rabbiting and get to the pictures, there is one more thing I want to say. Well, it's more of a plea, really, and it's come about precisely because I have been spending so much time studying All The Small Things and it is this: flies are not all disgusting or dangerous. They won't all sting or bite and they don't all have horrible habits. My attitude to flies has undergone a sea-change in recent weeks. We don't generally know enough about the creatures that we share this planet with and wherever possible I am trying to give buzzing things the benefit of the doubt. It's too easy to be frightened of them and squash them when most of them are harmless, and even those that do sting usually won't unless they are themselves frightened.
Nature does something called Batesian Mimicry, which is essentially when a harmless creature borrows the appearance of one that stings or carries poison. Hover flies are a great example of this. They pretend to be bees or wasps but they aren't, only they don't realise that looking like a wasp makes you appear dangerous to people, and if you're dangerous to a person and you are an animal, watch out!
What I'm trying to say (in a rather long-winded way) is not everything that looks like a wasp behaves like a wasp so we don't really need to act around them as we would around waspies.
PS- I know that many of you who read the blog already know all of this and garden for wildlife with fantastic results, so thanks for bearing with me. I just feel very strongly about helping nature and getting the message over that even a small space with a few crucial changes such as growing flowers of veg or adding a water source can make a significant difference to wildlife :-)
Right, I will now stop Going On and show you some illustrations of what is to be found in the average garden space.... These are the insects today...wild flowers will follow in a separate post.
|Harlequin Ladybird Larvae (our clematis was crawling with them)|
|14 spot ladybird larvae (ditto for the clematis)|
|cream-streaked ladybird larvae|
|Harlequin ladybird pupa|
|harlequin ladybird pupa after the ladybird has come out|
|Early Instar (developmental stage) Dock Bug|
|Yellow Shell moth (flew in through the back door. A day-flying moth)|
|White-legged snake millipede|
|Heliophilus pendulus (type of hover fly. Harmless)|
|Mirid (plagiognathus arbustorum)|
|Early instar Dock Bug|
|Marsh Fly (Sciomyzidae). They characteristically rest head-down like this and frequent anywhere there's water nearby.|
|Rhopalid bug (Rhopalus subrufus possibly)|
|Kentish Snail again|
|Common Earwig (they like to nibble flowers, especially dahlias!)|
|Mining bee. Look out for these characteristic little mounds of earth with a perfect round hole in your lawn. If you're lucky you'll see the little bee inside staring up at you!|
If you do decide to have a go a garden survey I'd love to hear what you find.
Have a nice evening all. I'm off to look at Wildflowers on our nearest chalk downland, part two of a course I started last week....