Moths and a bumblebee

The numbers of moths in my trap are beginning to build up with the milder weather.

This is an Early Thorn – love the beady eye!

This is a Chestnut – lovely orangey colour and distinctive black marks

This is a Brindled Pug – pugs are not very easy to identify ….

This is a Clouded Drab – an unkind name perhaps

And finally there was a rather sleepy Tree Bumblebee in the trap as well – a recent colonist to Britain but one that has been very successful and spread far and wide.

Tree bumblebees take up residence

Yesterday I noticed half a dozen bees ‘dancing’ around the guttering at my house. I had never seen such behaviour before so I watched for a while and then temporarily caught one of the bees in a net to see what it was. It turned out to be a tree bumblebee.

Tree bumblebee nest hole 1
The bees were flying around this guttering

Tree bumblebee nest hole 2A bee going up under the guttering and making a nest.

I found a very useful piece on the Bumblebee Conservation Trust’s website on tree bumblebees which explained what was going on – see here. The ‘dancing’ of the bees is known as nest surveillance and is a pre-mating display. The dancing bees are the drones, in due course a queen will emerge and mate with a male. This behaviour appears to be unique to tree bumblebees.

Tree bumblebee
Tree bumblebees first naturally arrived in the UK in 2001 and have spread widely since then. I photographed this individual last June on Lundy.

Tree bumblebee 2This photo shows the very distinctive marking of a tree bumblebee – the ginger thorax and the white tail. It will be interesting to see if the colony under the guttering develops and thrives.

If you are interested in bumblebees you might like to download (for free) a new publication on the Bumblebees of Cornwall and Scilly by Patrick Saunders. It is very informative and useful. The only thing to note is that it is a large file (38 mb). You can download it from here.

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The cover illustration is by the Dartmoor naturalist and artist John Walters.



Finch Foundry’s beautiful garden

We held our Dartmoor Senior Leadership Team meeting at Finch Foundry yesterday – I got there early so I could take a few photographs of the garden.

Finch's garden
The garden is very colourful at the moment and is looked after by Catherine, an NT volunteer and her two assistants Sheryl and Mike – they do an excellent job – thank you

Alstroemeria aura Peruvian Lilly –  I love the markings

A red monbretia

Briza major
The Quaking Grass – Briza major

Tree bumblebee
The garden also attracts lots of insects – here is a tree bumblebee – a species that has only recently arrived in the UK. See here for further details of the arrival of the tree bumblebee

Soldier beetles
A mating pair of the very common soldier beetle Rhagonycha fulva

Rutpela maculataAnd the black and yellow longhorn beetle Rutpela maculata

Finch Foundry is well worth a visit – see a bit of old industrial Devon and a beautiful garden – see here for more details.