Saturday, 8 July 2017

Take a nap by a knapweed

Keep your eyes open but stay very still by a knapweed plant and you may see a variety of creatures coming to visit the flowers.

While mowing with a scythe I chopped the top off a tussock of grass and found that I had accidentally taken the roof off a nest of yellow meadow ants.  You don't often see them because they live underground, feeding on the honeydew produced by aphids feeding on grass roots.





I had exposed the pupae, so the little yellow workers scurried round, taking the helpless pupae underground again.


While taking a photo of this I saw a white crab spider (Misumena vatica)on the neighbouring knapweed.  But it also detected me and quickly hid under the flower head.  
You can just see a trace of a white body with red marks, under the petals on on the right hand side of the flower. 


I waited for quite a long time but it didn't come out on top again so I gently tipped the flower to get a picture.  These spiders usually sit on white flowers, waiting to grab a pollinating bee, fly or beetle.  This individual seems to have had a poor idea of camouflage.


Then a bee arrived - or was it a hoverfly.  I'm not sure.


The next visitor was a marbled white butterfly.




 Other butterflies, ringlet and meadow brown, came by but were too easily disturbed for me to photograph.


And then I noticed lots of what looked like orange flies drifting past.  When they landed I saw not only that they were soldier beetles, but also what they were up to.  




What an entomological bonanza display, just by standing still.




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