Ashy mining bee
Scientific Name: Andrena cineraria
One of the UK's most distinctive spring flying bees species, the Ashy mining bee is abundant throughout England and Wales. Their flight period coincides with the blossoming of pear, cherry and apple trees from early April until June.
As the name suggests, mining bees bury into the ground to build a network which the colony will retreat into during wet weather. The nest can be identified by the small mountain of excavated earth at the entrance and are most commonly found in calcareous grassland or the short grass of parks and gardens.
Scientific Name: Allium ursinum
Flowering from April through to June, wild garlic blankets the forest floor of the UK's woodlands. Blooming just before bluebells, wild garlic is distinguishable by its smell rather than its appearance.
The star-shaped flowers clustered at the end of a single long stem differentiate the edible plant from its woodland neighbours; Lily of the Valley is a poisonous lookalike of wild garlic and they often are mis-identified due to their similar leaf shape. The entire garlic plant is edible; to find out more about cooking with wild garlic check out: http://www.countryfile.com/wild-garlic-guide-plus-recipes
Scientific Name: Bombus hypnorum
This species of bumblebee is relatively new to the UK, first identified just over a decade ago in Wiltshire, arriving from mainland Europe. They have become more abundant throughout the country due to the installation of bird boxes, which create an ideal nests for these spring pollinators.
They are easily identifiable by their tawny, black and white banding - quite different from the bright yellow of your traditional Garden bee.
Weevils are all very small beetles. Of the 1,500 species of weevils in Europe, this is one of the smallest at just 3mm in length. Their long snout-like structure is called a Rostrum at the end of which are the weevils jaws, used for munching their way through figwort and buddleia. They are widely distributed but very easily overlooked due to their tiny size.
When distressed a weevil it will drop to the ground and play dead! Or will be so well camouflaged that you may not even notice it; this weevil could easily be mistaken for a speck of dirt.
Green Longhorn Moth
Scientific Name: Adela reaumurella
Day flying moths are easy to confuse with butterflies due to their bright colours and similar habits. The male here shows the long white antenna unlike the females who have shorter, black and white antenna. This species is common across England and southern Scotland, with much more localised habitats in Ireland.
If you're lucky you may catch a mating swarm in late May to June; often around the tops of trees and bushes. Their tiny wingspan of 14-18mm classes them as micro moths and their metallic wings have given them the nickname of "fairy" moths.
Scientific Name: Crocus vernus "Pickwick"
A Dutch breed, C.vernus was introduced to produce the variety of petal colours we see today. These delicately veined flowers spring into life from March, adding a vibrant splash to the yellow of traditional spring Daffodils.
These crocus' have larger bulbs than their English cousins and thrive in thick grass and woodland moss.
Scientific Name: Meloe proscarabaeus
We have 4 species of oil beetle in this country; black, violet, rugged and short-necked. They are flightless beetles which release oily secretions when distressed. Despite their name, the black and violet oil beetles may have a black, blue or purple shine to their abdomen, identifiable only by the texture of their thorax. A female is photographed above, identifiable by her enormous abdomen which swells when she eats or is ready to lay eggs.
These stunning insects have a one of the most complex life cycles of the insect world After hatching in the soil, the larvae of oil beetles must quickly find a food source - pollen being the preferred choice. Larvae position themselves in a spring flowers, awaiting a mining bee to catch a ride on. They are then transported back to the nest where they munch their way into adulthood, before emerging with the other hatchlings to start the whole cycle again!
Scientific Name: Harmandia axyridis
Ladybirds overwinter in a dormant inactive state, using energy to maintain their internal bodily functions. As the weather begins to warm up in spring, they become a common site throughout the UK, preying on aphids which can be found on plants such as Rosemary as in the above photo.
The ladybird's bright colours deter predators, warning of the toxic "reflex blood" they secrete when attacked. There are 26 recognisable species of ladybird in the uk, 14 of which can be found in the low herb and scrub layers of deciduous woodlands.
Dark Edge Bee Fly
Scientific Name: Bombylius major
Being fair weather flyers, spotting a bee fly is a sure sign of spring! Only stopping to sunbathe on warm days, bee flies are notoriously tricky to capture on camera.
Bee flies are bee mimics, using their colourations to ward off predators but rather than a stinger, these flies have a long proboscis (or tongue) which they use to drink nectar from deep flowers. Their bee camouflage also gains them access to the burrows of mining bees, where they lay their eggs and their larvae will feed off the unhatched mining bee larvae. Dark edge bee flies are the most common species of their kind in the UK, found predominantly in southern English hedgerows and woodlands.
Japanese Cherry Blossom
Scientific Name: Prunus serrulata
Blossom is a key features of spring. Japanese Cherry blossom is one of the most popular garden trees in the UK, their flowers varying from bright white to deep pink. These trees bloom from early April for just 14 days before leaves begin to grow.
There is a great deal of symbolism in the blossom cycle in Japanese culture; the flowers represent the fragility and beauty of life while the annual cycle of blossom to leaves is a reminder of renewal and optimism.
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