Twas a dark & stormy night, the toilet light was dim. I heard a crash, and then a splash! Good God, he's fallen in!!
My mind tends to wander and make strange connections occasionally. Mrs WJ & I have spent a fair bit of time over the last few days, watching the inhabitants of Digger Alley wake up and start their oh-too-short lives. Thinking of a title that was vaguely Alley related, my mind wandered off to think of all those dark alleys, beloved in films, where the hero invariably gets bopped on the head before single handedly saving the planet. That triggered the memory of school leaving day, where it was the in thing to get everyone's autograph in a little book. Most people added a little witty saying, poem or message* and that led me to the short ode "Twas a dark & stormy night" (* witty for 16 year olds that is!).
Not that you'd see much along Digger Alley on a Dark & Stormy Night of course. In the daytime however..... Ahhhh, that's a different story.
Around the edges, in the bushes, you'll find this impressive beast - Strangalia Maculata no less. What a great name!
Buff Tailed Bumbles are busy - there's a nest nearby that's been attacked by a badger, but they seem to have survived the experience
We're all interested in the bees digging up the path though - Pantaloons are excavating burrows
and little Green Eyed Flower Bees zip around, making your head ache with their shrill buzzing
They don't have it all their own way however, the clean-up crew are busy earning their keep already, removing an early casualty
In case you're wondering, the green is ephemeral, fading to black upon death, which I find somewhat poetic for some reason.
But what is a bee, other than a hippy wasp? Well, for the Ornate Tailed Digger wasp, the little yellow-faced bee is prey to sting and stock your burrow with. Although the wasp seems to be having a hard time getting in!
Not everything uses bees of course, Oxybelus Uniglumis takes flies down, stuck on her sting for safe keeping, although here she's digging madly to make a home for the egg to hatch into
Somebody else digging madly is the Red Legged Spider hunter - no prizes for guessing what she'll be after once the burrow is ready
Sand wasps are always entertaining too, watching them struggle along with a caterpillar before stuffing it down a hole is great fun
Incidentally, if you've wondered how they dig their hole, getting soil out of the vertical tube they create, well, the answers obvious really - they carry it out, tucking a small handful under their chin each time and dumping it a few inches away
But it's the Beewolves everyone really wants to see. The boys are hanging out in their pheromone based lekking area (aka the old rabbit burrow)
And the girls were busy bringing back the honey bees as always, paralysed only so they stay fresher for the grub to munch
Muchos Kudos has to be awarded to the lady forming the background of that shot by the way - being prepared to stand patiently whilst a bunch of strangers snap away, getting pictures of the back of your trousers that's harbouring a resting wasp goes above & beyond I reckon!!
Incidentally, did you know that the Beewolf egg itself exudes NO (Nitric Oxide) gas? That, combining with air in the burrow, gives NO2 (Nitrogen di-oxide). That little lot has anti-fungal properties, so keeping the pile of food (ie the honey bees) nice & fresh for the grub to eat. It's pretty nasty in the brood chamber actually - H&S would limit your exposure, should you work in a lab with such things, to 25 ppm (parts per million). In the brood chamber? 1500 ppm. Freaky stuff!
Anyway, I digress.... Mrs WJ rescued the lady from being a Beewolf rest spot
Whilst all us photographers were, once again, sidetracked by something else. Attention span of a gnat, us photogs...
The Cinnabar caterpillars are making the most of the ragwort around the area. I'll leave you with a question though. What's this little wiggly? Not sure I have a clue....
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Lot to learn
In reply to gaynorsl:
gaynorsl said:If you don't know the answer to that question WJ then what chance to we have!!! I love the green eyed flower bee, a real beaut, not so keen on the Beewolf really because of it's bad kidnapping traits, fabulous pics all the same.
Lol! Some of the bees and wasps can be difficult to ID, with very similar markings and so on. But little wiggly things? No chance! Even the caterpillar the Sand Wasp is dragging along I'm unsure about, it's not in my normal insect book. That's part of the fascination, the excitement of finding something new :-)
I agree with Ian that it's highly likely to be beetle larvae but no luck yet in finding which one ... best place to start is from commonly seen beetles at the site, notice that the soil is gritty/sandy but not sure that's relevant! Unfortunately no expert, just an interested party ... great pics btw!
2013 photos & vids here
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Glad everyone else is having a bit of trouble identifying the wiggly (though I agree it's likely some form of beetle). Normally I'd say to stick to wasps, they're easier, but in the case of Jewel Wasps like this one, it's not that easy. You need a microscope & scalpel to take them apart to be confident in your ID (there are a couple of dozen very similar species & even the colours don't help too much - the iridescence glittering under the midday sun changes the colours depending on your angle of view!). This one's been down someone's burrow, looking to lay its egg in the pile of food left by another species. It will hatch and eat the food (or other wasp grub) - a bit cheeky I think you'll agree, doubtless why this one looks a bit shifty
In reply to WendyBartter:
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