Category Archives: Bees Wasps and Ants

The Jumble in the Jungle

There is a cold wind blowing today and it is carrying hail and rainstorms with it but there are moments when the sky clears and the sun shines and it feels like Spring.

It looks like Spring.

Three flowersThe floor is covered in tiny little green things,

Ivy-leaved Speedwell

Ivy-leaved SpeedwellI don’t know what they are (but they are Ivy-leaved Speedwell) but it is all a jumble and there are lots of different species here,

Ivy-leaved SpeedwellI am just going to look at a few of them today.

Lesser Celandine, I know that we see a lot of it in March but it is just so lovely and you won’t get to see it in June.

Anyway, you know what they say? When you are tired of Celandine, you are tired of life….

Lesser Celandine

Lesser Celandine

Lesser Celandine

Lesser Celandine

Lesser Celandine

Lesser Celandine

Lesser Celandine

Lesser Celandine

Lesser Celandine

Lesser Celandine

Lesser Celandine

Lesser Celandine

Lesser Celandine

Tired FizzOh! You poor little Doggy.

What would you rather do?

That was an over long video of Fizz at her “Falling off a log” class. I try to be as supportive as I can, she is trying hard to better herself and in a couple more years she will graduate and be a Master of Falling off Logs.

Nobody said it was gonna be easy.

I will leave her practising because just a bit further up the track are the Primroses.




PrimroseThis is also where I grow my greens.

Wild GarlicYou can eat the Primroses, they have two good qualities, The leaves are quite crunchy and give a bit of body to a salad and the flowers are pretty (also they are good for you) but food requires another quality and that is flavour, Wild Garlic is my favourite salad leaf in the world and easily surpasses anything that you can buy in a supermarket. I love this herb.

Today I found a new wild flower, well, not new, I have been waiting for it. The first of my year, this is the Early Dog Violet.

Early Dog Violet

Early Dog Violet

Early Dog Violet

Early Dog VioletI know most of what is coming and when to expect it. I can feel my birds wings beating as they return from Africa and I know there will be Orange Tips here soon. I know and I love these things. There will be Sweet Violets in a week or so and just after they arrive we will start seeing the Common Dog Violet (even prettier than this one) I love the Spring. Blackthorn may be in blossom already in places but it is always late here, it won’t be long and our Marsh Marigolds are out but only in the centre of the pond and I cant photograph them there.

Soon now the fields behind the farm will fill with thousands of yellow flowers.


DandelionI don’t suppose that you remember that from last year, do you?


Well, I do.Lost BallI found out something about Fizz today but first let’s get this into perspective.

I came here to try and rent this flat on a dark November night. I was a homeless man with little going for me except an honest outlook and a brown envelope stuffed with cash. I was lucky and I was able to make a deal and as I left I noticed that they had a cat. (They don’t have a cat)

When I started walking her I asked what she was, I might have asked “what the heck she was” because my Dogs have been German Shepherds and Collies and I didn’t have any experience of Toy Dogs. I also asked how old she was and I was told about three years. Chatting to Margaret today, apparently she will be three next September. She was a yearling when I met her and that helps to explain how stupid she is.

Nevertheless I have come to love her. (I also love quite a few Beetles and worms)

I am just going to finish this. On the way home she wanted to play the “Gate Game.”

Gate GameΒ I don’t mind.

Honey Bee

Honey Bee

Honey Bee

Defamation of Character!

As you probably realised I have been away for a few days, gathering botanical specimens for the benefit of our understanding and not what Fizz said, that is just her impish sense of fun.

Impish sense of funI was not lying in a ditch, I was in the pink.

Starting with pinks, I have got Primroses.
PrimroseNot pins or thrums or even yellow ones, I have got pink Primroses.

Pink Primrose

Pink PrimroseThis is the real thing, not a hybrid or garden escapee, this is the pink form of Primula vulgaris subspecies vulgaris a pink wild Primrose. They are not that rare but I didn’t have pictures and now I do πŸ™‚

Pink Primrose

Pink Primrose

Pink Primrose

Pink PrimroseNow put pink out of your mind or the colours might clash.

This next one was a wonderful find.

I have been walking miles to get photographs of the various stages of Coltsfoot. A couple of days ago I was walking back from just such an expedition when we came to the gate.

This is where Fizz likes to play “The Gate Game.”
The Gate GameThis particular gate is by the side of a track we regularly walk and it is very close to home.

The rules of the game are simple. She runs under the gate with the ball and sits there looking at me, she won’t budge. If I climb over the gate she runs back under, to the other side and we play again. She can play this game for a long time. It is so funny. (Her impish sense of fun, again)

This time when I climbed over, I forgot all about her and didn’t bother coming back.

Coltsfoot on my doorstep.
ColtsfootI have shown you the flower, it is a beautiful flower but that’s not it.

We had been out for about three hours in bright sunshine and we hadn’t seen an insect, not even a Butterfly. The Coltsfoot was swarming with them.

I need these photographs again for Easy Wildflowers. It is okay to say, “Provides a valuable source of nectar and pollen early in the year” but it is much better to have photographs.

Honey Bees.
Honey BeeWhen I photograph insects I really want to get the eyes and it can get very frustrating trying to capture Bees on Thistles or Dandelions because they bury their faces in the flower. Coltsfoot is lovely and flat and it doesn’t give them anywhere to hide.

Honey Bee

Honey Bee

Honey Bee

Moving on…Honey BeeThere were lot’s of Butterflies but all of them Small Tortoiseshells and some of them were quite badly torn so today I will move past them quite quickly. (We will have lots of Butterflies later)

Small Tortoiseshell(Butterfly nectaring on Coltsfoot)

I just want to show you one more insect today. This next one is a Hover Fly, called a Drone Fly it is a Bee mimic.

This is Eristalis tenex.

You can tell it is a Hover Fly and not a Bee because it only has two wings and it has a thick waist.

Common Drone FlyIt has huge eyes that would meet in the middle if it were a male, this one is female and it has stubby little antennae.

Common Drone FlyIt is not quite so easy to get it to species, they can vary in colour a lot.

This is Eristalis tenex because it has a banana shaped back leg (curved rear tibia).

Eristalis tenexThe hairs on it’s back legs are longer in the centre of each section and that is indicative of species.

Eristalis tenexIf you look closely there are two lines of fine hair running down it’s eyes. That is probably not very clear unless you are looking for it.

Eristalis tenexOh dear. Am I boring you?

Bored FizzJust one more little flower today.

I have been fretting over this one. It is already in flower and I haven’t put it on EW yet. There are two subspecies and I wanted the pictures to show the difference. This is the flower in question.

The Ivy-leaved Speedwell.

Ivy-leaved Speedwell

You have to look closelyIvy-leaved Speedwell

Really closely.Ivy-leaved Speedwell

There it is.Ivy-leaved Speedwell

A British pond coin is about the same size as a wedding ring and an Ivy-leaved Speedwell is the same size as the “G” in “REG.”Ivy-leaved SpeedwellInside the flower there are even tinier bits (smaller than Fizz) and what I have been looking for is a picture of the anthers just before they open to produce pollen. There is a fairly small window of opportunity.

If the anthers are bright blue, before they get covered with white pollen and all the other bits add up then it is Veronica hederifolia subspecies hederifolia and that is what I think that I have got here.

Ivy leaved speedwellDoes it really matter? Will anybody ever look?

What do you think Fizz?

FizzFizz thinks that we should play ball.

My Cute Little Diplolepis Rosae

No this isn’t a post about Fizz, it is too dark to photograph her.

For the very same reason I am not going to show you this next picture.

Spindle BerriesThis weather has got to break soon, I don’t need bright sunshine just a little more than midnight at midday and a little less rain. Then I will attempt to do this beautiful tree justice. I just know that I can do it better and there is no point in trying to do it today.

So I am stuck indoors, except for walking Poochy. I have been working on my Easy Wildflowers project. That has been on the back burner for some time because I anticipated a down turn in the weather and thought that it would help to fill the winter months. It is nearly that time.

Do you remember our Rose Bedeguar Gall? Robin’s Pincushion?

Rose Bedeguar Gall

Rose Bedeguar Gall

Rose Bedeguar GallWell, I found myself writing about roses and one thing led to another.

The little Diplolepis rosae larvae should be going to sleep by now. In late October they stop feeding and go into a prepupal stage (a sort of stage before they become a pupa) and they over winter like that. Then around about February they moult again and become pupae.

Well I wanted to have a look inside a pincushion and this is late October so it seemed like a good time to do so.

This is the one that I left behind (a bit wet and bedraggled)…

Rose Bedeguar Galland this is the one that I brought home to live with me.

Rose Bedeguar GallThen I cracked it open to look inside.

Wow! Little animals!

Diplolepis Rosae

Diplolepis rosaeThis one with the pretty face is my favourite πŸ™‚

Diplolepis rosaeThey are not supposed to do anything now until February. I have put their Gall back together and wrapped it in leaves for now and I have put them in a flower pot in an outbuilding so that they know it’s winter.

I haven’t exposed all of the cells, most of them don’t even know that they have been captured. I want to photograph the adult wasp, it is only 4 mm long and I don’t have much chance of finding one in the wild and so I have borrowed some larvae.

Diplolepis rosaeIn the Spring I will bring them back indoors and put them in a jar and I shall watch them every day. I haven’t figured out how I am going to photograph the wasp yet but I would really like to see one and so I have to try.

So this is my plan for Easy Wildflowers. On our dull winter days I shall work on it and then I shall do a sort of resume of my days work for Tramp and it will look like this.

Hi, today I have been writing about the Town Hall Clock,Β Adoxa moschatellina and it looks like this…

Town Hall ClockHave you ever tried to get all five faces into one shot?… because I have and it is not possible.

Anyway I am not going to show you that today but I am looking forward to a bit of summer sunshine on those dark winter days.

I want to get the design right before I invest months of work into it and I am not very confident. What I have done looks good on my PC but everyone sees something different.

I have used thumbnails quite a lot and I don’t really know if this works on other devices. I don’t want to learn CSS so I might just have to abandon the thumbnails.

If you have time then please have a look and tell me if it is any good before I spend months creating a massive pile of ….stuff that doesn’t really work. I may still have to rethink the layout. Say and I shall listen πŸ™‚

Easy Wildflowers

When the sun shines I shall photograph this beautiful tree for you and for me.


Scary Monsters

Aw, just when you were beginning to like bugs…

This one doesn’t sting, it just looks scary and even scary monsters need some love.

Tenthredo Sawfly

Tenthredo Sawfly

Tenthredo Sawfly

Tenthredo Sawfly

Tenthredo SawflySawflies belong to the same order of insects as Bees, Wasps and Ants, the Hymenoptera but unlike the others Sawflies don’t have waists.

There are many different types of Sawfly (about 400 in the UK) and they can look very different from each other or very similar.

This is a Tenthredo Sawfly but Tenthredo is a genus. There are three species that look so similar that we can’t say which one this is. It is either T. notha, T. arcuata or T. brevicornis.

Sawflies have four wings so you can tell them apart from the True Flies (Diptera) which only have two and that includes Hover Flies. If it has got four wings it is not a Hover Fly.

Tenthredo SawflySawflies can be a serious garden pest. The larvae look like and eat like caterpillars. They have more legs than caterpillars (well prolegs, if you know the difference, the ones at the back) If it has more than five pairs of prolegs it is probably a Sawfly larvae also Sawflies tend to rear up on their back legs and wave about at you, Β I am sure that you have seen a “caterpillar” do that.

Apparently pest control products that you get for caterpillars don’t work on Sawflies so you have to know the difference but I am not a gardener so you would have to look elsewhere to find out about that.

Adults feed on littler insects but they also eat nectar and pollen.

Tenthredo Sawfly

Tenthredo SawflyThey don’t bite people.

I will take Fizz out and see if we can find something sweeter for you.

Tenthredo Sawfly

An interesting Animal (Vespa)

Look what I found in the grass. It is a European Hornet. This one was a little bit scary. Although she was crawling about in the grass she kept doing little short flights straight at me and when Β she took off she was really noisy. BUZZ! She didn’t chase me, just kept pushing me back when I got too close but I wanted to take her photo.

I find these animals really hard to photograph they normally run away before I can get near to them.

European Hornet

European Hornet

European Hornet

European Hornet

European Hornet

European Hornet

European HornetIt is just a big Wasp really. they are all the same family Vespidae but while our Common Wasp was genus Vespula and our Saxon Wasp was Dolichovespula The Hornet is genus Vespa. A genus is just a sub-division of a family. There are quite a few different types of Hornet belonging to that genus and most of them are bigger and meaner than this one.

A Hornet is not more aggressive than a Common Wasp, generally they are a lot less aggressive and the sting is no worse than a Wasp’s. I have just read that it only takes three stings from a Hornet to kill a Man and seven to kill a Horse, that is nonsense, it would take at least eight to kill a proper Horse.

Smile, I want to take your photograph.

European HornetIf you are interested there is a lot of information about the European Hornet on this web site Hornets: Gentle Giants. That is, I believe a German web site. The European Hornet is a protected species in Germany and you can get a hefty fine for killing one or interfering with a nest.

I was expecting Acorns

I was quite surprised to find Artichokes in my Oak Tree.

Oak Artichoke Gall

Oak Artichoke Gall

Oak Artichoke GallThese are the product of another Gall Wasp called Andricus fecundator. I think that we should have more Galls on this blog just because they are a bit weird. πŸ™‚ These are called Oak Artichoke Galls or Oak Hop Galls.

Oak Artichoke Gall

Robin’s Pincushion Again

Hi, I know that we have only just had Robin’s Pincushion (Would you like to see an Artichoke Gall?) I found a wonderful Rose today that had every stage of the pincushion’s development on it, including the bones that I haven’t seen before so I just have to post it.

Better still I know where this Rose is and I can visit it throughout the year. I quite wish that I had brought the bones home to dissect and I will probably do that next time I am out there. Expect to become a Pincushion expert if you are following this blog.

Robin's Pincushion Gall

Robin's Pincushion Gall

Robin's Pincushion Gall

Robin's Pincushion Gall

Robin's Pincushion Gall

Robin's Pincushion Gall

Robin's Pincushion Gall

Robin's Pincushion Gall

Robin's Pincushion GallJust to recap for new visitors. Robin’s Pincushion is a Gall created by the Gall Wasp Diplolepis rosae. It lays it’s eggs in the leaf bud of Wild Roses and a chemical reaction causes this Gall to grow from the plant material. The larvae of the wasp then live inside the Gall eating plant material until they pupate and then they emerge as mature wasps.

I now wish that I had searched around for the wasp itself, I bet there were some about and us pincushion experts need those photographs.

Wasps !

Don’t be alarmed but I am becoming very interested in social wasps.

They are beautiful and distinctive but I am not finding them overly easy to identify. Part of the problem is that two individuals of the same species can have quite different markings.

I think that the animal in the header picture is a Tree Wasp, Dolichovespula sylvestris but I am struggling to get positive confirmation of that so either it isn’t or my pictures don’t carry enough detail. I think that there is only one way to learn and that is to keep at it so expect more wasps on this blog.

Here is one that I can Identify. This is a Common Wasp, Vespula vulgaris. Wasps have distinctive patterns on their faces and this one is often referred to as an “Anchor mark”

Common Wasp

Common WaspGenerally identification is a matter of looking at the markings on the face and those on the thorax. The stripes on the abdomen seem to vary a lot even within the same species.

Common Wasp

Common WaspThe Common Wasp is a Vespula Wasp they have short round faces. This next one is a Dolichovespula Wasp sometime referred to as long faced Wasps.

This is a Saxon Wasp, Dolichovespula saxonica.

Saxon Wasp

Saxon Wasp

Saxon Wasp

Saxon WaspI realise that to most people it is enough to be able to recognise that it is a wasp. Eeek! If it stings you who cares what species it is? I need to learn from the animals that I photograph, that is the only reason that I take pictures so I need to know the species.

I would love to tell you that Wasps don’t sting. In fifteen years of crawling around in the bushes photographing flowers and insects I have never been stung by a Bee or a Wasp. I know that I am just lucky but I really don’t think that they are as bad as they are made out.

These animals are just going about their business and if you don’t bother them they don’t really bother you. Horse Flies and Mosquito’s are another matter, they hunt us and quite deliberately attack us but Bees and Wasps are okay in my book.

I am a bit disappointed that I couldn’t get a positive ID on my Tree Wasp but okay I am just going to go out and photograph another one and try again.

Tree Wasp

The Search for Robin’s Pincushion

This is Robin’s Pincushion.

Robin's PincushionI haven’t seen one of these for years (This is a very old photo)

Well I saw one last night on Clare’s blog “A Suffolk Lane” and I thought to myself, “I haven’t seen one of those in ages.” So Today Fizz and I went to look for one.

They grow on roses and we have lots of wild roses in the hedgerows around the farm, I packed sandwiches and water and off we went.

FizzFizz ate all of the sandwiches almost as soon as we were out of the door so that left me free to poke around in the hedgerow and take photographs. Here are some of the things that we found.

We found miles and miles of cable running through the hedge and thought, “Hello, it looks like the Badgers have bought themselves a computer”. So we followed it.


HoneysuckleBut all there was on the end of it was some flowers.


HoneysuckleWe found lots of blue berries on the Blackthorn that weren’t really blue.


SloesThe blue dust rubbed off and they didn’t look very ripe yet.

SloesIn fact being green was beginning to feel like a theme. The Rose Hips that we had seen were still a long way off.

Rose HipsSo were the Hazelnuts.

HazelnutsElderberries were only just starting to colour up.


ElderberriesAnd the Hawthorn still has a way to go.

HawthornThe only thing that I could find to eat (Having lost my sandwiches to a card cheat earlier in the day) was the occasional Blackberry.

BlackberriesFinally we found the Rose we had been looking for.

Dog RoseThere right in the middle of the bush and just behind the friendly thorns was the sweetest little Pincushion ever.

Robin's PincushionRobin’s Pincushion is a Gall made by the wasp Diplolepis rosae. The wasp lays about sixty eggs in an unopened leaf bud of Wild Roses (Dog or Field Rose). A chemical reaction then causes this weird and wonderful distorted growth that becomes home to the wasp larvae.

Robin's Pincushion

Robin's PincushionI am really pleased that we found one today. πŸ™‚ I haven’t seen one of these in ages.