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Woodland insects- a new woodlands TV film

Woodland insects- a new woodlands TV film

by Angus ~ 24 April, 2020 ~ one comment

The latest WoodlandsTV film features some insects that you might see whilst wandering through a woodland this Spring.   

One of the earliest to be seen, possibly even in February, is likely to be the bumblebee, which in recent years, has often seen mild periods.  However, the bees may suffer if there is then a particularly cold spell - such as The Beast from the East, which occurred in late February / early March of 2018. Bumblebees and solitary bees are important pollinators. The woodlands blog has often written about bumblebees and the threats that they face due to viruses, pesticides, and habitat fragmentation.  Another woodlands insect - the bee fly is a parasite of their young (larvae).  Read more...

Big Butterfly count 2019

Big Butterfly count 2019

by Chris ~ 19 July, 2019 ~ comments welcome

A brief note to say that the Big Butterfly count is underway as from today (19th July), continuing through until the 11th August.  This annual count is important as it allows ecologists to assess the impact of environmental / climate change on wildlife - identifying 'winners and losers' in times of change.

You are asked to give 15 minutes to count the butterflies in your garden / woodland / local park.  There is a free app (for both android and iOS) and an ID chart to help you.

Thousands of people took part in 2018, submitting 97,133 counts of butterflies and day-flying moths from across the UK; to see the results of last year's survey click on the link - here. Read more...

The 2017 Big Butterfly Count

The 2017 Big Butterfly Count

by Chris ~ 14 October, 2017 ~ comments welcome

The first six months of 2017 were noteworthy for above average temperatures. Then July and August were characterised by unsettled weather and above average rainfall - indeed, it has been one of the wettest summers for a number of years.

The effect of this weather was to reduce the number of butterflies seen during the Big Butterfly Count - which took place in late July and early August.  The ‘warmer’ early months of the year meant that the development of some butterfly species was accelerated so that their peak numbers occurred earlier than when the count took place.  Others were affected by the rather miserable ‘summer’ weather.  The count recorded the sightings of some 20 species of butterfly and moth. Read more...

Counting butterflies

Counting butterflies

by Lewis ~ 20 July, 2016 ~ 2 comments

The British have always been inclined to talk about the weather “it's been too hot, too cold, been raining for days etc”.  However, there is now some justification for discussing the weather as recent years have seen the number of extreme weather events increasing and there have been significant changes in the ‘pattern of the weather”.

Though not extreme, the weather this Spring and early Summer has been been disappointing.  Sleet and snow fell in late April, and there were a number of sharp frosts.  The April temperature was 6.5o C, 0.9o C below the 20 year long term average.  Most regions were colder and wetter.  This pattern continued into June.  This sort of weather, when coupled with last year’s rather cold , wet summer has significant effects on both insect and bird populations. Read more...

Poor pollination and pesticides

Poor pollination and pesticides

by Chris ~ 3 April, 2016 ~ 3 comments

Dr Dara Stanley of New Holloway, University of London has been looking at the effects of neonicotinoid pesticides on the ‘efficiency’ of bumblebee pollination of apples.  Several studies have already implicated these pesticides in the decline of foraging behaviour of bees / bumblebees.  As some 30% of agricultural crops depend on pollination by bees and  bumblebees, hover flies and other arthropods (with an estimated global value in excess of $350 billion / year) then the effects of these pesticides needs to be evaluated, so that informed debate on the banning or restriction  of their use can take place.

Dr Stanley and associates exposed some bumblebees to ‘low’ levels of neonicotinoids (such as might be found in wild flowers), others were exposed to no pesticide.  Read more...

Know your bumblebees

Know your bumblebees

by Chris ~ 27 June, 2014 ~ 5 comments

Following on from last week's post, the woodlands blog has often reported on the problems facing honey bees and bumblebees - from the vagaries of climate to the effects of insecticides, such as neonicotinoids.  Whilst it is easy to identify a honey bee and spot a bumblebee, it is somewhat more difficult to say what type of bumblebee might be foraging in your garden or woodland.

There is a lot of information about bumblebees at the bumblebee conservation trust website.  A particularly useful link is "Top tips for bee ID"; tail colour is an important or helpful feature.  Read more...

Bees and butterflies, nectar and nectaries.

Bees and butterflies, nectar and nectaries.

by Chris ~ 20 June, 2014 ~ comments welcome

Nectar is a sugar-rich liquid produced by special glands on a plant.  These glands are usually associated with the flowers - but not always.  Floral nectaries are usually found at the base of the petals so that a visiting insect picks up or deposits pollen whilst collecting the nectar; thus, 'helping' the plant to reproduce / set seed.   Common pollinators are bees, bumblebees, wasps, moths, butterflies and hummingbirds;  less common pollinators are flies, ants, possums and bats. Read more...

Butterfly numbers - summer 2013

Butterfly numbers – summer 2013

by Lewis ~ 15 November, 2013 ~ one comment

This summer (2013) a record-breaking 46,000 people took part in the Big Butterfly Count – organized by Butterfly Conservation.  More than 830,000 butterflies and day-flying moths were recorded across the U.K.

   The  previous wet and miserable summer (of 2012) has gone down as the worst year on record for butterflies; it followed a series of ‘indifferent’ summers weather-wise that had compounded the long-term decline of various butterflies.

The warm and often sunny conditions this summer saw a “butterfly boom”, with large numbers recorded in the the  gardens, parks, playgrounds and countryside of the U.K.

  Generally speaking, observers counted almost twice as many  butterflies as compared to 2012. Read more...

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