Does anyone else ever do that? No? Probably just me….
I’ve always been curious about my natural surroundings; we are all so nosey about human lives (who’s dating who, who’s wearing what…), I am also nosey about OTHER animals lives. Birds. Insects. Lives that many of us walk past every single day – most people aren’t aware that such DRAMA is unfolding right in front of them 😉
Lately I can’t seem to even walk past a leaf without thinking what is that mark? Is it a disease? Or Was it made by a leaf mining moth? Or beetle? Or wasp? Or fly? Which species? (This is a great website on identifying UK leafminers) and then what is that that just flew past my head??? So many questions, so much to learn; the natural world is a fascinating place.
So today I went to Kempton Nature Reserve to do some bird watching. I did do some bird watching; I saw teal, lapwing, gadwall, green woodpecker, long-tailed tits and a lovely green sandpiper – love the way they bob their tail up and down! Always a joy to watch.
But really I ended up spending most of my time crawling around in the undergrowth and turning over leaves whilst muttering to myself, like sane people do 😉
I’ve noticed wasp galls before but didn’t realise just how many different shapes and sizes they come in! They can also be induced by flies and aphids but most prolifically by wasps. And I don’t mean those huge mean looking yellow and black social wasps, these are small harmless (to us, maybe not so much to the host tree….) solitary wasps.
The female gall wasp lays her egg on the bud, leaf or stem of a specific plant (particularly Oak) then once hatched the feeding activity of the larva stimulates the plant to grow a ‘gall’ that provides nutritious plant cells for it to feed on and shelter from predators. Pretty smart eh? Everything it needs in one place!
So here are a few I discovered today
Gall of the Knopper Oak Gall Wasp Andricus quercuscalicis
Gall of the Oak Marble Gall Wasp Andricus kollari
Gall of the Bedeguar Gall Wasp Diplolepis rosae – these are spectacular!
Bedeguar Gall Wasp again
I also spent some time observing this guy preparing his breakfast (look away now if you are eating yours ;))
Garden Spider Araneus diadematus – the most common of the orb weaver spiders; common by still awesome!
And if gall wasps and spiders don’t float your boat I also came across this beauty
Small Copper Lycaena phlaeas – surely there is a place in everyone’s heart for this little guy 🙂