Freeing the Pond Olive Mayfly

Once again the brown wheelie bin for garden waste came up trumps with a new species for the backyard - this time my first mayfly, a Pond Olive (#301) with its lovely long tail streamers.  Mayflies are usually found by ponds and streams, so God knows how it got in my compost bin, as I'd only been pulling up some potato plants and a few weeds; certainly nothing from any pond.  Apparently it's a myth that mayflies only live for a day - even so, spending a large proportion of your life shut in a dark wheelie bin is a bit tragic.  I was happy to liberate it.

301 Pond Olive mayfly.jpg

300 Species in my Backyard in 2 months

More or less on the 2 month mark, I added a handful of species to achieve a total of 300 species in the microEden backyard.  The fennel seems to be the most attractive pollen source for flies, hoverflies and wasps,  The population of wasps is really taking off right now, with them all around us as soon as we sit outside for a meal.

The new species in the last couple of days include #297 common orange legionnaire fly, #298 pied hoverfly and #300 a solitary bee Ectemnius continuus.  The solitary bee is a predator, digging a nest hole in wood and taking flies, etc back for its larvae - it has strong looking legs, perhaps for all that digging.  On the fennel though it was more interested in the flowers than any of its fellow insects.

Stinkbugs Emerging

These two were the first shield bugs of the season.  On the left the Birch Shieldbug (#282), several of which have been blown out of the trees around the garden by the strong winds of the last couple of days.  On the right a Red-legged Shieldbug (#292), this one saved from drowning in the paddling pool.  These shield shaped bugs are also often called stink bugs as the smell bad when you squash them, and presumably they taste bad to birds as well.  They're pretty bugs, but not especially a gardeners friend as they live by sucking the sap from plants and hence can become a pest, but I don't mind them...

Orthoptera in the Paddling Pool

A whole run of interesting insects being fished out of the kids paddling pool.  An adult Oak Bush Cricket with very impressive antennae - maybe it was the same one I rescued as a nymph from the brown wheelie bin earlier in the summer!  We don't have much in the way of long grass, so this grasshopper was a first for the garden.  Judging from its colour and wing length, I identified it as Lesser Marsh Grasshopper, a species which has been extending its range north in UK.  It's nice to find interesting insects like this on my patch.

Leaf Miners

I like the crazy patterns leaf miners make in the leaves. The traces are made by larvae, mostly of flies or moths, that live between the top and bottom surfaces of the leaf, eating their way around the interior in different ways until they eventually are ready to transform.  By the plant species involved and the pattern left by the larvae you can mostly identify which the species.  I've recorded mines on sugar snap peas, chard and aquilegia; also on weeds such as sow thistles, herb bennett & willowherb.  Mostly they're fairly harmless, though I'm not so happy about the damage to my chard - not that I can do much about it, if I don't want to use insecticide.