Gravid

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By this time in the summer the garden is looking pretty tired, so it’s a pleasure to see that the sedums are coming into flower. We have clumps of them all over the place because they do well even in our soil, and when they outgrow their allotted space they’re easy to divide and replant. They also tolerate dry shade – this one is growing in the shadow of a huge Worcester pear tree, and doesn’t seem to mind at all.

In another few days this clump will be covered with bees and flies, but today this little female Syritta pipiens had all the heads to herself and took full advantage of the fact, working over them carefully to find each open flower, and then reaching in to feed on the pollen. She can be forgiven her greed though because she’s eating for – actually I don’t know how many, but the shape of her abdomen shows that she’s gravid. She’ll lay her eggs in decaying organic matter – anything from animal dung to garden compost – on which the larvae will feed as they develop. Although they’re tiny and easily overlooked, being less than a centimetre in length, these adaptable little hoverflies are significant pollinators, and therefore ecologically important.

I did my garden bug safari early this afternoon, between finishing the preparation for our barbecue and L and G arriving. We had a lovely afternoon with them, and even managed (with true British fortitude) to eat outside, though it was so windy that the herb garnish was blown off the top of one of the salads, and smaller items kept flying off the table, But at least the rain held off till the end of the meal, at which point we retired to the house and sat at opposite ends of the conservatory to drink our coffee. Out of everything the pandemic has changed in our lives, it’s family times like this that R and I have missed the most, so these two visits from our gorgeous girl and her lovely husband have been an absolute delight.