Growing wildflowers in your space, should attract lots of beneficial insects. Here are some you might see in Spring.
You may not think aphids are beneficial but in order for some of our favourite wildlife to survive they need to exist!
There are more than 4000 different species of these tiny sap-suckers which are at the bottom of the food chain.
Ladybirds in both life-stages eat aphids. Ants farm aphids for the honey-dew they secrete and even honeybees will drink it if flowers are scarce.
Look out for small garden birds like blue-tits pecking at branches and most likely they will be picking off aphids.
One of our garden faves and an easy insect to identify. Look closely to see how many spots it has, if 7, it is a native Seven-spot (Conchinella 7-punctata). Small ladybirds are not babies but most likely the Two-spot ladybird (Adalia 2-punctata).
If a ladybird has lots of speckled spots it could be a harlequin ladybird. These non-natives also do a good job of eating aphids and make a tasty snack for insectivores.
There are actually 26 different ladybird species in the UK. Some are very rare like the 13-spot ladybird which lives in lowland marshes.
Sometimes called humble-flies, there are 4 types of Bee-fly, the most common is the Dark-edged Bee-fly (Bombylius major).
The long front tongue is called a proboscis is for reaching the centre of flowers to feed on nectar.
Bee-flies can often be spotted hovering near the ground on the look-out for a Solitary Bee nest. They lay an egg nearby and when the larva hatches it crawls into the nest to feed on the contents within!!!
Common Carder Bee
If you see a ginger bumblebee it will almost definitely be a Common Carder (Bombus pascuorum). These super sweet natured bees range in all shades of ginger from russet to pale sand.
The queen bees emerge in March and the female worker bees hatch in April. The males, last but not least, appear from July to October.
Carder Bees make their nests above-ground in tall grass, under hedges or in leaf-piles.
Did you know?
The name ‘carder’ comes from the habit of combing or ‘carding’ moss to line their nest.
Hairy-footed Flower Bee
(Anthophora plumipes) emerge in early spring, the female and male look quite different. The female looks like a small fluffy black bumblebee and the smaller male a fat greyish honeybee with an angry buzz. If you see one close-up it is the male that has the hairy front feet, used to stroke the female’s eyes whilst mating.
European Honeybee (Apis mellifera)
Now the weather is warmer, female Honeybee workers are sent out to look for nectar and pollen to take back to the hive and restock the larder. The queen, workers and larvae were able to survive the winter months with their food supply, in the form of honey.
Insects need fresh water as well as flowers to feed on.
Did you know?
In the UK there are 270 different species of native wild bees.
24 of these are bumblebees and one a honeybee, although you could say the honeybee is now domesticated as these lucky bees are looked after and kept in hives. Of the 24 different bumblebees only 7 remain relatively common.
There are 57 resident British butterflies and over 200 moths!
Five of the UK’s resident butterflies hibernate overwinter, meaning they will be the first on the wing, usually by April.
The butterflies which shelter through winter as adults are: Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Comma and Brimstone. Look out for these early butterflies when the weather begins to warm up. Their caterpillars usually feed on plants that will be in leaf earlier too, such as the Common Nettle.
For more help with identifying butterflies, see the piece on Basic Butterfly ID by guest writer Nick Ostler.
We really hope you enjoy looking and finding insects in your garden this year.
Please do tag us @seed_ball with any pics on social media!
A gorgeous mix of colourful native wildflower annuals – Poppy, Chamomile, Cornflower, Corn marigold, and Night-flowering catchfly. All will flower in their first Spring / Summer season and are ideal for attracting pollinators and other garden wildlife. Each bag of Annuals Mix contains 100 seed balls, enough to cover 5 metre square in a garden bed or 15-25 medium sized pots (leave at least 10cm between each ball).