Dotty

posted in: Invertebrates, Worcestershire | 0

By 10.30 this morning I’d started a batch of yoghurt fermenting, and there was a Catalan stew simmering in the slow cooker. They don’t call me a Domestic Goddess for nothing.*

I then rattled round all the likeliest invertebrate sites, and managed to get both this dotted bee-fly (Bombylius discolor) and a common mourning bee (Melecta albifrons) on camera. Admittedly, the bee is largely hidden inside a pulmonaria flower, so if you didn’t already know what one looked like, the photo would leave you none the wiser, but the BWARS folks do know, and this shot gave me my first provable record of the species this season.

This image is also less descriptive than I’d ideally like, but experience tells me that when you’re dealing with a dotted bee-fly you take what you can get, and count yourself lucky if that’s anything other than a photo of a flower, with no insect remaining anywhere in the frame. I clocked this male as soon as I set off along the lane, due to his size and colouring and the noise his wings were making, but even though he was busily feeding from the aubretia on our neighbour’s garden wall I knew better than to try to approach him directly. It took several minutes of zooming around by him, and sidling around by me (while pretending to be looking at anything other than him), before we reached this point of proximity, and a few seconds later he made the leap into hyperspace and disappeared. If you think you might have a dotted bee-fly, but can’t see the dots on its wings (and trust me, you can’t, except on the rare occasions when they get tired and stop for a rest), it will be bigger, louder, and more strongly coloured than a dark-edged bee-fly, with black pile at the end of the abdomen.

After this small photographic triumph, I spent several hours tidying and mulching the front garden – madness, really, given that I’m still quite tired post-Covid – and then went and made some butter bean slunge. So we now have fresh yoghurt for breakfast, dinner for today and tomorrow, and five future meals portioned up and in the freezer. And a front garden that for once looks almost passable, provided you don’t examine it too closely.

* Or even at all.