Introducing the Hoverflies!

Article 14 of our project to record and attract wildlife to a garden in Brislington focuses on one of the most colourful, advantageous (if you’re a gardener) and numerous insects that, whilst perhaps not as appreciated as the average butterfly or bumblebee, are just as interesting and important. In this article we also cover what we can do to benefit the 12 species we have recorded and hopefully attract more. We also explain how, if you decide to record hoverflies yourself, you can contribute to a national recording scheme.

If you’re interested in these little insects visit our articles page and have a look…

DC 13/12/2021

Hazel Aphid / Leek Moth / Minettia fasciata

As one aim of is to demonstrate the amazing diversity of life that can still be found in our gardens and open spaces, in particular around the Brislington area of Bristol, we will be focusing on the more obscure species just as much as the common things we sometimes take for granted.

To this end, we have added two species accounts to the Articles page which may be of interest to those vegetable gardeners out there who like their alliums as well as anyone living near a hazel tree. Article 12 covers the Leek Moth, whilst article 13 takes a quick look at the bizarre annual life cycle of the tiny Hazel Aphid.

In addition, we have added one more species to the garden list, a little fly which the Facebook UK Diptera group helped us identify. It’s fair to say we didn’t have a clue. So welcome to the garden our little representative of the Minettia fasciata species group. We are still learning what a ‘species group’ means in terms of Diptera (true flies). It likely refers to a group of species so similar that to identify them requires DNA techniques (a little beyond our skill set!) or that need microscopic examination, probably requiring us to euthanize the specimen. Not something we object to but not something we are looking to do ourselves.

So if you’re interested in these species, go have a look at the Articles and Gallery pages of our website…

DC 05/12/2021

Willughby’s Leafcutter Bee – New Garden Species (MLS)

Two in two days, and coincidentally this new species belongs in the same family as yesterdays Sharp-Tail Bee. It really does pay to go back over the hundreds of photographs digital photography allows you to take. This one totally bypassed us until now. Photographed on the 26th June 2021, another listed as Most Likely Species (MLS) this time on account of it being the most common of the potential species it could be.

26th June 2021

So welcome to the garden Willughby’s Leafcutter Bee. My Bee book suggests these guys do love a good bug Hotel, so hopefully when ours is finished (nearly there) we will see plenty more of these bees next summer.

DC 28/11/2021

Sharp-tailed Bee – New Garden Species (MLS)

Just going through some of this summers photographs and one bee I had thought was another Ashy Mining Bee I noticed had a strange bottom (or more accurately spines on tergites 5 and 6), this meant this was in fact a Sharp-tailed bee species. We think it’s possibly a Large Sharp-tailed Bee (Coelioxys conoidea) but its not really possible to tell. So for now will mark it as Most Likely Species in the species list, and welcome to the garden.

DC 27th November 2021

Chlorociboria aeruginascens or Green Elf Cup – New Garden Species. But should it be?

For the first time we have to consider what to do when we actively introduce a native species to the garden unintentionally.

In this case I was recently visiting a private woodland (with the owners permission) and I came back with a small branch I felt would look nice alongside the wetland/pond area we created. I should add that the woodland, suffering from ash dieback, was not lacking in dead, dying or decaying wood, either standing or fallen.

Anyway whilst placing the branch I noticed the presence of Green Elf Cup, an amazing looking species not seen in the garden before.

Our thinking on this is the same as the wildflower species we are attempting to introduce. We will record it as present in the garden. If it establishes itself (we record it next year onwards) then great, we have a new species. Ultimately any material brought into the garden could in theory be harbouring a stowaway species.

Hopefully it will be able to adapt to conditions outside of the woodland. I may now place it beneath the shrub line, but I gather it is frequently recorded in gardens. Indeed it is a widespread species. There is a similar species it could be but this is much rarer, Chlorociboria aeruginosa. For now we will assume we have this one correct as the Green Elf Cup and welcome to the garden!

DC 21/11/2021

Nigma Puella – New Garden Species

Whilst looking to get a positive ID on the Green Aphids on our hazel tree we came across this tiny little guy under the stereo microscope. It was found on the underside of a hazel leaf within its flat web structure. It was very sensitive to the microscopes light so we took a quick snap and put the fella back in the garden.

Not an especially well distributed species, mostly confirmed to the south of the country. But I suspect very under recorded due to its size. Welcome to the garden!

DC 20/11/2021

Time Lapse Function on Mobiles

Just had a little fun with the old time lapse function on my phone. Fortunate enough to have a tripod and a doofer to hold my phones camera over the eye piece of a viewing scope. Simply aimed it at the fence and got some rather good images (from a distance of about 18ft) of Starlings and a regular visiting wood pigeon we call Dustin, at our neighbours feeders.

In good weather next summer, without the threat of rain, this should make a useful addition to the kit needed to capture some better images of wildlife in action, especially those hard to sneak up on species (just don’t point it at the neighbours window!)

Reasonably cheap equipment if you discount the viewing scope (which I was fortunate to be gifted), although they are not as expensive as they once were. However you don’t necessarily need the scope, we tracked Curtis the Comma Butterflies progress and ultimate demise using just the tripod, phone holder and phone (see Article 4 on Article page).

DC 06/11/2021