Category Archives: Insects

Early spring moths and sallow

The end of March this year was mild with little frost.  I was surprised to find the first flowering sallow / selje (Salix caprea) on 19th March and by the end of the month some larger trees were in full flower providing much needed food for a myriad of insects include wild bees, bumble bees and most of the 13 moth species shown below, all of which were photographed in my garden at the end of March, attracted by a moth trap. In turn, birds are attracted to the insect feast and some also feed on the nectar directly.



Emerging sallow catkins and biodiversity on the rise in the garden

As the most important tree for insect diversity in the spring – goat willow / selje (Salix caprea) – emerges into flower, two more moths that feed on the catkins turned up in the garden this morning, yellow horned (vårhalvspinner) and clouded drab (variabelt seljefly). Just waiting now for the influx of birds (chiffchaff, dunnock, thrushes) that feed on this insect feast! 

 

There are records of arctic peoples chewing the flowers of various Salix species for the sweet taste and, from Alaska “Indigenous children strip the catkins of this shrub and chew them. They are commonly referred to as “Indigenous bubble-gum” and are eaten before seeds ripen in June and July”.
The catkins of Salix caprea taste good to me, but I don’t know of any use of this species historically.

Cuckoo wasp in the garden!

I found the cuckoo wasp / rødgjøkveps in the garden today – Vespula austriaca. It parasitizes the red wasp / rødveps (Vespula rufa) by occupying its nest. V. rufa is uncommon in the garden, but I saw one today too. There are no workers of V. austriaca.



Bee beetle

One of my favourite insects is the bee beetle / humlebille (Trichius fasciatus). This morning I saw it on one of my favourite onions victory onion / seiersløk (this one is Allium ochotense; the East Asian species – recently separated out as a species). Later I filmed it also on a hogweed (Heracleum spp.).





Winter Dancing Flies

On warm days in autumn and winter, there are thousands of dancing flies or winter gnats (vintermygg) particularly in the windows. Last week all the windows downstairs had swarms of these dancing up and down and were swarming all over the garden too. They are fun to watch and wonder why and how these are active in such low temperatures when most other insects are hibernating or overwintering as larvae or eggs. They can even be seen on warm winter days on the snow. These are flies in the Trichoceridae family (we have 15 species in Norway) and provide morsels of protein in winter for the birds in the garden! The larvae feed on decaying plant material, rotten wood and fungi…there’s plenty of that here!
An important component of my food forest garden.





Red-tailed bumblebee: new species for the garden

Yesterday, I registered red-tailed bee / steinhumle (Bombus lapidarius) for the first time at the community garden (Væres Venner), the first time in this part of Trondheim. This is a common species in the city and is probably the commonest bumblebee in the Allium garden at the botanical gardens. Today, I saw this species for the first time in my own garden, the first record in this area.  It was on Allium pskemense, probably the most popular plant in my garden for bumblebees. In the second video you can see both the white-tailed bumblebee (Bombus lucorum; lys jordhumle) and tree bumblebee (Bombus hypnorum; trehumle). Please correct me if I’m wrong!

Check your nettles!

Making nettle water (fertiliser) this afternoon and I checked if there were any butterfly / moth larvae under the leaves, but I missed one and this beauty floated to the surface along with some tiny bugs. It’s the larva of the Comma butterfly (Hvit C).
I moved the larva back onto a nettle plant…

Early Autumn Pollinators

With only a few inflorescences left on my Buddleja plants, the red admiral and painted lady (tistelsommerfugl) butterflies are transferring their attentions to other flowers in the garden, notably and most importantly Eupatorum cannabinum (hemp agrimony / hjortetrøst, seed of which came original from the banks of the River Itchen in Hampshire). Other flowers of choice at the moment are Anise hyssop (Agastache), Monarda and Marigold.

In the first video, the Red Admiral defends its hemp agrimony flower against a bumblebee!

…and a few other pollinators: