Summer is a bit up in the air, isn’t it?! Hot, cold, raining, clear blue skies, is that thunder? But our UK wildlife has been here nonetheless keeping us smiling and wanting to head out for more. A couple of weeks ago we asked you to share some of your favourite summer pictures. Of course, you did not disappoint! Here is a selection of what you’ve been seeing, come rain or shine.
Spot the difference
One species we received a few images of was the strikingly coloured hornet, whose reputation needs no introduction. However, a few of you noticed that there was something not quite right once you had a closer look at the photograph... it was in fact a hornet hoverfly! One of nature’s incredible tricksters.
This is magic trick called mimicry and it is when one species, often harmless, copies the colours and patterns of another, often harmful. On the left in the image below, photographed by Stephen Green, is the hornet hoverfly (Volucella zonaria) compared to an actual hornet on the right, photographed by Shayne Baker.
Quick game of spot the difference. The colours are impressively similar and size-wise they’re not too dissimilar either, about the size of a pen lid. However, if you look closer the eyes are much larger and positioned on the side of the hoverflies head. This is characteristic of a prey species, able to see a wider field of view to spot any potential predators. Compared to the hornet (A.K.A the predator) who has eyes on the front to locate their next meal. You can also see the body shape is different between the two with a characteristically tighter waste of the hornet, although we wouldn’t recommend trying to get too close in real life...
So why be a mimic? The answer is fairly straight forward, if a hornet hoverfly lands nearby are you willing to take the risk that it’s not a hornet?
Susanne Daum – common lizard, “Lizard babies love to hang around this planted old walking boot sitting on our garden wall!”
David Phillips - “In spite of the blustery weather a concerted effort looking for silver spotted skipper eventually paid off on The Downs above Lewes, East Sussex. Last year's lockdown efforts for this localised species had proved unsuccessful - perseverance and a knowledge of flight times paid off in 2021.”
Jackie Pritchard – A beautifully silhouetted bird perched on a fence post. Perhaps a robin?
John Mudd - ladybird moment, "Small but beautiful.”
Liz McCrickard - Nesting kittiwakes, “This was taken at Troup Head RSPB Reserve.”
Geoff Catchpole - Stag standoff, “Biggest beetle I've met.”
Deanne Wildsmith - “I took this photo of the ringlet butterfly during a local walk in Lichfield, Staffordshire last month.”
David Sisson - “Kingfisher on the river Kent.”
Gill Fisher - “Cinnabar moth caterpillars on Ragwort photographed by my six and a half year old granddaughter”
Thank you for all your wonderful photos, we wished we could have shared every single one. Nature can be a fantastic escape to lose yourself in the world around you. Lastly, but by no means least, enjoy the rest of our brilliant summer just like Mary’s mallards...
Mary Shand - Mallard duck and chick, “Summer snaps in the local area.”
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