First signs of Spring

Friday 28th February 2014

The start of spring can be an unpredictable affair these days but is one of the best times to observe insects. Buglife have listed some of the clear insect signs that spring is upon us.

Spring is a really important time for bugs. Queen bumblebees, queen wasps, mining bees, butterflies such as  Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma and Brimstone, and various hoverflies will have hibernated as adults. They represent individuals that developed last summer, fattened up on late blossoms like ivy, and then went into a long torpor in a sheltered place such as a hollow tree, old mouse hole or perhaps your garden shed.

When the first blossoms appear and the days start to warm up (sunny days of 12 degrees or more help), those hibernated insects awake with a desparate hunger and thirst and must find a meal within a day or two or risk dying. ‘Pussy willow’, which is the blossom of willows and sallows, is one of the most important first ports of call.

These trees and shrubs are either male or female. The bright yellow catkins are male (the yellow is pollen) and this is a vital source of protein for female insects that need to mature their eggs. Most early spring insects mated the previous summer or autumn but their ovaries require a lot of protein to produce viable eggs. The green pussy willow catkins are female and are a rich source of nectar, the sugary liquid that gives spring insects the energy they need to forage and stay warm.

Other important early spring blossoms include cherry plum (with either white or pink blossom), blackthorn, dandelions and lesser celandine.

If you are really lucky you might even be able to find an oil beetle or a bloody nosed beetle as they too are amongst the earliest insects to appear.

If you have a camera with a macro setting, this is one of the best times to photograph insects!

For more information contact Paul Hetherington, 07732 158128