Community Wildlife Area – October 2020

View from The Wildlife Patch

The late summer has become a quieter period on the wildlife patch with fewer butterflies about other than the ubiquitous small and large whites. The recent warm dry weather may bring a late emergence of several species, red admirals, tortoiseshells, and peacocks in particular, and also a few small coppers perhaps.

We have cut down the spent flowers and other vegetation on the meadow patches. The dead stems were left for a few days to release their seeds then raked off to avoid increasing the fertility of the area which would encourage coarse grasses and weeds. We shall plant a few native perennials in these areas to reinforce those in the seed mix we sowed in the autumn.

Dragonflies
I mentioned last month that dragonflies had been seen laying eggs in the pond. Since then we have spotted little groups of the dragonfly nymphs stalking about at the pond bottom. So far those seen were nymphs of the emperor which are identifiable by their large size and long narrow shape.

Ivy Bees
A recent surprise was the discovery of a large colony of ivy bees on a nearby allotment patch. These are a species of solitary bee which dig burrows in loose sandy soil, and apparently rather like allotments. They aren’t disturbed by the allotment holders’ cultivation and luckily they are stingless. Although classed as solitary bees they appear to like making their burrows in close proximity to each other producing large groups. They are notable for only being active in the autumn, unlike most other species of bee, as they prefer to stock their burrows with ivy pollen, which only flowers at this time of year. Ivy bees are a recent arrival in this country from the continent and are gradually moving across the country.

Mark Newstead

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