I have always liked shieldbugs. We don’t see them that often despite their colourful appearance, because they are also good at hiding. I am using my camera phone as my own camera is out of action, so not the best image!
They belong to the order Hemiptera, which is the same order as aphids, pond skaters and frog hoppers. They have a sucking mouthpath which they use to extract fluids from plants.
We are involved in a national Hare Survey of Ireland.
As part of the survey, the National Biodiversity Data Centre has joined the National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) and Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) in launching a monitoring portal for hares in Ireland.
Anyone can submit all there hare sightings by following this link.
For help with hare identification there is also an online identification guide.
This is a great opportunity to take part in a national survey.
A photo from my archives. Hoverflies are important pollinators in Ireland and elsewhere.
Regular readers will remember we had plenty of frogs in the pond earlier in the year and lots of spawn. The tadpoles are now developing into little frogs. My youngest spotted a couple moving from the pond to the hedgerow.
A frog in the hand
They are so tiny. The fact that any of these creatures can make it to a full -sized adult frog is truly amazing. How big the world must seem to them!
Red-tailed bumblebees are lovely looking bees. The workers and queens as below, are jet black with a red tail. The males are similar but have a yellow band on it’s head and yellow face hairs. They are only occasional visitors to my garden but they are around at the moment, though this one was photographed on the West coast of Ireland. They have a “near-threatened” status in Ireland.
We are already half way through Ireland’s biodiversity week, and computer issues and work have meant that I am only now getting around post about it. Biodiversity Week, which runs from 17th to the 27th May 2018, aims to celebrate all of Ireland’s wonderful biodiversity and looks at connecting people with nature. There are lots of events, walls, talks and workshops.
There are many simple things you can do to connect with nature in your own garden. Since starting my garden here 13 years ago, one of my main aims has been to increase biodiversity.
Here are some of my tips.
- Plant trees. Fruit trees are a great option as they provide spring blossom for many pollinators and of course fruit later in the season.
Green veined white on apple blossom
- Plant flowers. I love native wildflowers and have flowers meadows as well as including wild flowers in my flowers beds and vegetable patch.
- Plant a hedge. We have blackbirds, and dunnocks nesting in our hedge this year.
hedge with climbing rose
- Dig a pond. Ponds attract frogs, newts and many aquatic insects including amazing dragonflies.
Frogs in pond
- Put up some bird, bat and solitary bee boxes.
- Get involved in some citizen science Programmes. This week the National Biodiversity Data Centre are encouraging everyone to send in their butterfly records.
Today, Sunday 20th May, is World Bee Day. It is a day to celebrate our wonderful bees, but it is also a day to reflect on how bee populations continue to decline.
Carder bumblebee on apple blossom
Bees recorded in the 2017 National Bee Monitoring Scheme showed their lowest numbers since 2012. A total population loss of just over 14% has been recorded between 2012-2017.
There are things we can all do to help bees. Here is just a few examples:
- Join a bee monitoring scheme. These citizen science programmes are a great way to learn more about bees yourself, but also contribute important information about the health of bee populations.
- Plants some flowers! Ideally pollinator-friendly flowers. For example, cottage garden varieties (e.g. delphiniums), nasturtiums, herbs and heathers. It is also important to have flowers from early spring to the first frost to provide food throughout the season.
- Don’t be too tidy. Leave areas of tall vegetation for nesting bumblebees, leave vegetables (particularly overwintering brassicas to flower) allow dandelions to flower before mowing lawns.
- And finally enjoy bees!
Bumblebee drone sharing Allium
White tailed Bumblebee
Early bumblebee on cranesbill
White tailed bumblebee, Bombus Lucorum
For more information check out the following pollinator website.