A Patch of Hemp Agrimony

Dear Readers, with just a few weeks to go until I retire there is a lot to do at work – I am eager to make sure that everything that should be documented is documented, and that there aren’t any fires smouldering that might burst into flames as soon as I’m out of the door. But on a day as beautiful as today, after so many days of rain, I was determined to spend half an hour perusing my garden for invertebrates, like you do. I’m not called Bugwoman for nothing, you know! And once the buddleia is going over, the best place to look for interesting insects is definitely the patch of hemp agrimony beside the pond. It’s a bit of a blousy plant, and it goes from looking neat to looking as if it hasn’t had its hair brushed for a month in the space of twenty minutes, but everybody with six legs loves it, so that’s good enough for me.

In the photo above there’s what I think is an Eristalis hoverfly – my goodness it’s a good honeybee mimic, even down to the way that the abdomen moves when it’s feeding. It even had me fooled for a minute, and I am wise to the ways of hoverflies. The key thing to look for to distinguish them is the eyes: big fly-ish eyes for a hoverfly, dark little olive-shaped eyes for a bee.

Note the eyes! This is a hoverfly

And here’s a honeybee

Below there’s an Eristalis hoverfly on the bottom of the flower and a Syrphus hoverfly on top – I wrote about the latter a few days ago, but today there were a dozen in the garden, which makes me think that maybe, like the marmalade hoverfly, they’re migratory, whizzing over the Channel to feed in the UK. Apparently such migrations can be so dense that they show up on radar, and the flies are called ‘angels’. As they pollinate a whole range of flowers, and as many of their larvae eat aphids, I agree.

Here’s a Syrphus hoverfly having a rest after its long journey.

And here’s a Gatekeeper butterfly. There was a Holly Blue and a Red Admiral passing through as well but I was too busy looking at flies to capture them in all their glory.

But it isn’t all fun and games. There was a wasp patrolling the flowers – I half expect them to be carrying searchlights, they’re so diligent in their hunt. I’ve watched them find a caterpillar and pull it off of a cabbage plant, and on one occasion a wasp was actually going into an ants’ nest on my patio and stealing the ant larvae, so they shouldn’t be underestimated. But then neither should this tiny chap/pess…

Jumping Spider

This is a tiny jumping spider, hidden away amongst the flowers, and there were lots of others too – ‘ordinary’ orb weavers with their silk slung between the blossom, and several other species – last year I found a candy-striped spider and was very pleased with myself.

So, although the birds have quietened down a bit there is still plenty to see in the garden. I recommend taking a break if you possibly can, there’s always something exciting going on, and it’s so good to get the knots out of your neck and stretch your legs. Look after yourselves, lovelies!

Oh, and here’s the backside of a leaf-cutter bee. Never let it be said that I don’t indulge you all.

4 thoughts on “A Patch of Hemp Agrimony

  1. Celia

    There’s never a dull moment, is there! Most informative and enjoyable — I’m looking around our garden with a new perspective on hover flies in particular. I managed to annoy a group of bumblebees a few weeks ago when I strayed near their nest – don’t underestimate the anger of an outraged bumble!


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