Small magpie moth

The City Council has a moth trap which is free to borrow. To give you an idea of what to expect local dad Ben recounted his experience with it recently:

” I have borrowed the moth trap for the last week and run it so far for 5 nights. My household includes my mother so on some nights the age range went from 10 to 85 years old! It’s been great to see how exciting everyone found it. Mainly because you never know what you will get. The weather and location can make a big difference to the number and species you catch. I invited other people to come and see the next morning what we got. (Socially distanced of course). I was amazed at the curiosity, wonder and joy this inspired in them! They couldn’t believe how many there were, the variety, their amazing markings but also the fact that you can look at them very close-up (unlike butterflies for instance). It was fun to find the moth trap intruders too, other creatures that found their way in. Like Wasps, Caddis Flies even water Boatman!”

Older lady with a moth           Elephant hawk moths      Green Silver lines Moth

 

” I would recommend checking the surrounding grass and vegetation for moths that have settled near by but not actually in the trap. Also to use a small paint brush when trying to gently encourage moths into a pot out of harms way. If you can stay up it’s fun watching the moths fly into the trap, you could also combine this with a bat-watch.”

“Lastly watch out for robins when emptying the moths out in the morning, they are quick to learn about moth trap free meals!”

If you would like to borrow the moth trap please contact: Victoria.smith@cambridge.gov.uk

Swift flying

Do Swifts trump Solitary Bees?? As well as Solitary Bee week it’s also National Swift Awareness week. I think we have enough love to go around for both groups, no real favourites here!

Swifts are pretty amazing though:

  • feed, drink, sleep, mate on the wing.
  • migrate 14,000 miles to equatorial and Southern Africa every year.
  • BUT also are declining massively, over the last ten years up to half their numbers have declined.

Swift in hand                 Swift flying away from hands

 

How to help? That’s why these National awareness weeks exist to highlight the issues and then give advice on how we can change conditions for the better. See below all the links that can give you this information, but be aware that once you start clicking it could lead to:

  • putting up your own swift nesting boxes on your house
  • setting up a camera in this nest box and obsessing about their chicks and when the breeding pair may return next year
  • staring up in to the sky, no matter what you are doing, whenever you hear Swifts calling
  • even monitoring your own bird’s migration path.

In short it could change your life so be ready for that process to happen when you make your first click on:

http://actionforswifts.com/

https://www.swift-conservation.org/

https://www.natural-apptitude.co.uk/project/swift-mapper/

This process has already happened to Tony, a Chesterton local and Friend of Logan’s Meadow, https://twitter.com/folm_cambridge?lang=en . Please see his awesome video of the Swifts nesting at Logan’s Meadow Swift Tower. https://youtu.be/PMD39Ak8g-8D

All photos were supplied by https://actionforswifts.blogspot.com/p/saw2020.html

Solitary bee

This week we are taking a moment to think about those other bees, not the bigger furry ones, not the honey producing ones, the other ones….collectively known as Solitary bees. In Britain we have around 270 species of bee and just under 250 of them are solitary bees!

Solitary bee

As the name suggests they don’t tend to live in colonies like Bumblebees or Honey bees and they do not produce honey. They have many complex and interesting life cycles and are definitely a group that requires further investigation. See this link for loads of ideas and info: https://www.solitarybeeweek.com/learn

 

 

On the City Council’s nature reserves we are recognizing that these relatively unknown pollinators could do with a hand. Therefore we are wanting to build the perfect breeding and nesting conditions for them in the form of a ‘bee bank’ on some of the reserves.

Bee bankThis is an example of what a bee bank could look like.

Take a look at our plans for installing more bee banks on the reserves, the first one is planned for Logan’s Meadow reserve, see the link below.

Please do make a response, we welcome your views.

https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=Yr5uzntVNkShnHZ-yizUUVsJav_t6dFMsk2cqNxHkWpUOEhJV0hYSlhBVDRIMzExWUUzRUpSUk9JVi4u

Or find it at:https://www.cambridge.gov.uk/consultations

Solitary bee on yellow flower

 

Common Darter dragonfly

It’s here!! National Insect week:

22nd -28th June 2020!!!

It only comes around every two years so you don’t want to miss all the great interactive activities available.

Check out this link: https://www.nationalinsectweek.co.uk/about-national-insect-week

There are so many ideas and useful learning resources to help you get to know some of our 24,000 species of insects in the UK.

Where can you go to find them locally?? Well how about our beautiful Cambridge local nature reserves? The Reserves

Insects can be found in many different habitats, so plan an insect safari this week, this could include;  borrowing the Community moth trap, a pond dip, a sweep through tall grass, a shake of a low hanging branch on to a waiting sheet, under logs, under leaves, on flowers, on stalks, in a cow pat……the list goes on!

Get to know theses species which keep our planet live-able!!!

If you would like to borrow the community moth trap please email: Victoria.Smith@cambridge.gov.uk

Hoverfly lagoon

A great way to boost biodiversity in your outside space is to create as many different habitats as possible. You may have flowers, maybe a pond, a lovely compost heap, even log piles but do you have a hoverfly lagoon??

Hoverflies are often overlooked as a pollinator. They are often mistaken for bees or wasps because of their yellow-and-black patterns which they use as a method of defense although they cannot sting and do not live in nests.  The easiest way to know if you are looking at a hoverfly rather than a bee or wasp is to look at their wings, they only have two while bees and wasps have four.

Tiger hoverflyTiger hoverfly (heliophilus pendulus)

 

There are more than 280 hoverfly species in the UK and some of these species have an aquatic lifestage with their larvae living in pools of water or ‘rot holes’ in trees. (particularly the genera Eristalis, Myathropa and Helophilus).

This is where the lagoon comes in.

How to make a hoverfly lagoon:

The lagoon is essentially any container with decaying organic matter and water in it. Preferably holding no less than 2 pints of water and positioned in partial shade, ideally under a bush or tree. Once you have situated it, place a layer of dry leaf litter on top of the water, this provides the visiting female with a space to crawl over and lay eggs, it also helps reduce evaporation and deter mosquitoes.

We made ours in an old bath! It worked really well. There are now loads of Tiger Hoverflies using the swampy water to breed. As well as frogs and toads enjoying a cool down. hoverfly lagoon made in a bath

Check the water for larvae after a few weeks. To spot the hoverfly larvae look for the unique breathing tube which reaches up to the surface, this earnt them the nick name of Rat’s tail maggots. You could keep some in a separate container and like butterflies watch them emerge into a beautiful adult. Or you could take it further and be part of a Citizen Science project which is trying to gather data on our hoverflies see: https://www.thebuzzclub.uk/hoverfly-lagoons