school garden

school garden

Sunday, 22 June 2014

The bigger picture...

Over the weekend the garden group discovered some very interesting insects. A couple of them were new to our ever growing list.  All were found close to the HQ building where the hive of activity this weekend was the very industrious sight of small black mining bees digging up sand from between the bricks.  These excavations were not made by ants but by small black bees.  These small bees were very busy digging into the sand between the bricks where the females would have laid an egg. The bee would then fly off for a few sorties gathering pollen which it stored in the hole underground for the larva to feed on once the egg had hatched.

Excavated sand between the bricks

 Bee excavating hole in the sand

Close up of one of the mining sp.bee

Hopefully we can identify this species from close up photographs. There are several small black mining bees. Andrena, Halictus and Lasioglossum are all small ground nesting bee families

At that point we can move onto the next insect.  A Nomad bee - a cleptoparasite- which preys on ground nesting bees.  This insect Nomada goodeniana waits close by and watches the female bee as she digs the burrow and lays her egg. Then while the bee is off foraging for pollen to store underground this nomad bee nips in quick and lays her egg.  A sort of cuckoo!  The nomad larva has a ready supply of pollen handy collected by somebody else!

Nomada goodeniana- a cleptoparasite bee

The next insect was most likely Ectemnius cavifrons. This is a wasp which preys on hoverflies.  There were plenty of hoverflies around the HQ shed.  It was first spotted flying around one of the apple trees then settled on the kiwi plant.  It was a much larger insect than the previous Nomad bee. It was eventually tracked down and caught while trying to enter a small hole in the wooden structure of the HQ shed. The pictures below are from the internet.  We hope to have our own pictures in the next few days and will publish them.

Ectemnius cavifrons- a hunting wasp

Ectemnius cavifrons- hunting wasp.

Just another example of the wonderful world in which we live in.  Attention to detail and acute observation with an awareness of our surroundings reveals a lot. There is much to learn. Even in the world of insects - and these are quite small insects- there is so much interest.

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