Whilst surveying T1 the first section of my bumblebee transect at Morgans Hill I came across this little beauty soaking up the sun amongst the brambles. It’s a freshly emerged male Broad-bodied Chaser dragonfly Libellulla depressa. In its immature colouring it almost has the look of a giant wasp or hornet but it’ll soon transform into its adult blue colouring. He’s a little early this year, no doubt spurred on by the fabulously warm spring weather.
As if I haven’t got enough to do I’ve now volunteered to do a butterfly survey each time I complete my monthly bumblebee survey at Morgans Hill. In truth it isn’t that much more work and as generally there are more butterflies than bumblebees it’ll make it more interesting. I’m not anywhere near as good at identifying butterflies as I’d like to be so I’m really looking forward to improving my knowledge. I’m ok with the more common ones but not quite so good with the rarer types.Above is a bit of a favourite of mine, the rather quarrelsome Small Copper Lycaena phlaeas. You might just about be able to pick out some faint blue speckled markings on the hind wings. When this makes a clearer line of blue dots this form is called caeruleopunctata. There is even a rare white and black albino form.
Whilst out looking for bumblebees I occasionally come across something more unusual like this little chap. It’s one of the Bee-flies, the more common of which is the Large Bee-fly Bombylius major which sometimes visits gardens. This is the much scarcer Dotted Bee-Fly Bombylius discolor. It’s almost mouse-like with its furry coat and fairy dotted wings but look at that vicious-looking spike coming out of its mouth. What’s that all about? Don’t worry it’s not something to sting you with. It’s just its proboscis which it uses to suck nectar. It’s not exactly harmless though as it’s parasitoid larvae attack the grubs of solitary bees and wasps in their underground nests. It’s thought to prey primarily on the larvae of the Grey or Ash Mining Bee Andrena cineraria. Cute though isn’t it?