Funny field-trip today – started badly when I discovered that the Wildlife Trust had put cows into the only field with a decent patch of hogweeds and totally trashed it. Needless destruction of nectar sources really annoys me – they could have put the cows into another field while the hogweeds were flowering but no … it probably didn’t even occur to them how valuable these plants are to insects! Then again, they didn’t have to cut all the hay meadows at the same time in July either … another massive nectar source wiped out … do Wildlife Trusts actually think about insects when they do their management work?! I am beginning to wonder.
Anyway I managed to catch a few flies (Exorista rustica group, poss Phryxe, poss Epicampocera etc.) on the only flowers that hadn’t been trampled or eaten then I went around the site looking for more flowers. In the end I went around the edge of the flowery meadow that they had cut in July and found some hogweeds and Hemp Agrimony growing the other side of the fence. These flowers must be the only nectar for miles so they were covered in butterflies (Silver-washed Fritillary, Red Admiral, Peacock, Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Gatekeeper, Chalk-hill Blue, Common Blue, Small Copper, Green-veined White) and a few nice flies (Tachina fera, Nowickia ferox, Phasia hemiptera male & female, Eurithia sp., poss Thelaira nigripes but not caught).
This huge concentration of insects on one small patch/row of plants shows just how vital it is to retain nectar sources and not cut hay meadows until the flowers are in seed. Also, put cattle in selected paddocks, starting with ones that have less flowers – don’t just let them into all areas so that they destroy valuable seasonal habitats.
* many thanks to Max Barclay for the Agapanthia villosoviridescens ID 🙂