2018 in Insects

This is a quick roundup of some of my favourite insect encounters of 2018 – there are some beautiful and highly varied species in the UK which reward the close observer!

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These are variously known as feather-footed or hairy-footed flower bee and are one of the first species to appear in the spring. The males are females are a dark black whilst the males are a rusty brown and spend much of their time searching out females to mate with – a female happily feeding on a flower will often have 2-3 males hovering at a not-so-discreet distance waiting to pounce when they think the moment is right!
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Common blue butterflies at Holwell Nature Reserve (Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust)
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A dead bumblebee at Bedford Purleis NNR which has been found by a party of wood ants who were very slowly transporting it back to their nest
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An enormous roman snail at Aston Clinton Ragpits – these are the largest snails in the UK and are around the size of a golf ball!
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Bee flies are excellent bumblebee mimics which appear early in the season – they parasitise the nests of solitary bees by flicking their eggs into the entrance hole. This one is hovering at a garlic mustard flower to feed.
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Hornets may have a fearsome reputation but they are quite charming creatures up close – this one was trapped overnight and needed a sweet treat to help it back on its way the next day!
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This year saw temperatures remain relatively mild all the way through to December – this wasp was photographed on ivy flowers just 12 days before Christmas!
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With its mottled green and white underwings, the orange-tip butterfly is beautifully camouflaged on a cow parsley flower to spend the night
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This amazing wasp had captured a spider, removed its legs and was busy taking it back to its nest sight – a rather grusome but truly impressive sight!
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This common blue butterfly was settled on a dandelion clock to wait out a rain shower along the Peddar’s Way
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A cockchafer beetle – just about to take flight – in this photo it has just opened its wing-casings to reveal the wings beneath
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A red-tailed bumblebee male leaving a knapweed flower
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A marbled white settled amongst the dry grasses of a mid-summer meadow
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A cinnebar moth amongs the grass in early summer
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A devil’s coachorse – these ground beetles will raise their tail to threaten any intruder in a quite convinving show of bravado!
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A small copper settled on a yarrow flower in early autumn
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Mother shipman moth feeding in a sheltered valley just north of Grantham which is swathed in species-rich limestone grassland flowers
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Memories of summer lunchtime walks in the meadows above Grantham – the long drought gave the grasslands a parched appearance but they were still buzzing with life including this leafcutter bee
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Pollinators beware – you’d need to be on high alert to spot this beautifully camouflaged spider lying in wait on a yarrow flower!

 

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