Ever noticed tiny holes in the sandy paths at The Lodge? RSPB looks after a diverse range of wildlife, including over 200 species of bees and wasps.
Our local expert, Will George, took a closer look.
‘I noticed tiny insects flying around some holes at the edge of the bare ground, and after a few failed attempts, managed to catch one and take a closer look. I had caught one of the UK’s smallest bees!
'It measured less than 5mm in length - a ‘blood-bee’, named after the red patches on its body. These are ‘cuckoos’ of other bees – laying their eggs in other bees’ burrows to avoid all the hard work of digging a hole and finding food. This one was probably a little sickled-jawed blood bee, Sphecodes longulus, which takes over the burrows of the equally tiny least mining bee.
A so-called ‘blood-bee’, one of the cuckoo bees. Photo © Will George, RSPB.
The heath viewing platform by the visitor information building proved exciting. I saw a flash of colour which proved to be a ruby-tailed wasp. These tiny wasps are amongst the most beautiful insects to be found in the UK, with shining metallic patterns of green and red. They can be very hard to identify, but this was one of the easier ones with a dull tail identifying it as a Hedychridium roseum. All the ruby-tailed wasps are cuckoos of other wasps, with this species attacking the excellently named Astata boops – and so it was no surprise when a female of this shieldbug predating species was the next species to make an appearance.
Hedychridium roseum (above) – a tiny ruby-tailed wasp. Photo © Will George, RSPB.
Astata boops – a wasp that predates on shield bugs. Photo © Will George, RSPB.
'Hopefully I’ll be able to make another visit to the reserve soon and see what else is being given a home on the reserve.’
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