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Bumblebees and Butterflies


The abundant numbers of bumblebees (Carder and White/Buff tailed) and butterflies in the garden this recent days are are somewhat reminiscent of childhood. Its been a heck of a long time since I remember seeing so many butterflies at once.

White butterflies dance merrily in their droves.
Their courtship antics ever so obvious as they spiral their way skyward. I can’t help for worry about Jim’s brassicas growing in the garden on the other side of the fence!

Did you know? Carder Bees, those busy little ginger bumblebees, are somewhat lighter in colour here in Scotland than they are elsewhere in the UK.

In years past, a regular garden visitor has been the Red Tailed Bumblebee (Bombus Lapidarius) so far this year I have not seen a single one! These bees are ground nesting bees and I do wonder if localised flooding wiped out colonies in the surrounding area.

I’ve identified 2 new species visiting the garden this year.

Bombus/Psithyrus campestris – Field Cuckoo Bumblebee.

Maniola jurtina – Meadow Brown

As I am writing this, I thought it would be a good idea to remind you all that The Big Butterfly Count for 2013 is now on. Please join in the survey. For more information please follow the link.

A few more pictures I’ve taken the last couple of days

I’ve also noted that there are very few Hoverflies around this year and wasps are rather conspicuous by their absence. Maybe as late summer comes those absent garden friends will return!

Has anyone else noticed new species visiting their garden this summer or have you noticed that some are missing or that numbers of some have increased or reduced?

More blog posts by scottish

Previous post: July - It's hot!!

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I have only seen a few white butterflies so far, but there are lots of different moths and also several hover flies and wasps. There are also some bees, but not many.
I've also seen one ladybird :o)
Haven't seen any shield bugs, which are usually very common things here.

4 Aug, 2013


Same here Scottish, loads of whites a few peacocks and red admirals, only one tortoise shell so far but no blues of any type which is a worry here. Great pics you've done thanks for the reminder of the count too.

4 Aug, 2013


we have more bees here than last year butterflys a couple of yellow ones.the white ones on the veg never seem to fade away. no wasps yet but wait until the plum season we always have what i call sand bees ?small and burrows in the soil where it is dry in the thousands but at least they dont bite. bird breeds have increased over last few years because farming here is declining with many farms going to barn conversions we hear birds now we dont recognise and cannot be seen amongst the leaves BUT where will our food and milk come from in years to come

5 Aug, 2013


Like Hywel, only a few white butterflies have ventured in.....although, having said that, a group of 6 white butterflies were flying together quite high above the garden.

5 Aug, 2013


Fisrt very interesting blog and very pleasant viewing i liked so MUCH!

I ve been reading up on butterflies and in general butterflies appear in july right up to september so i thought well thats reasuring for me in my mind as to why i may not have seen many in june...(dumb me).....
but then ive never really thought that much on those kind of things for one reason or another...

but out of being a bit lonely/ill and wanting to sort my garden out i joined GoY and through my love of photography i saw all these insects more and also i do remember you sharing with me your other two blogs on bees/but also you had a real interest in them which i did not (so got me thinking big time) really i should pay more attention otherwise my blogs to me would be really shallow...

well i have noticed a few ladybirds i have many butterflies in my garden but only two kinds... lots of differant moths the wildflower field oppisit me has quite a few differant butterflies but then they have a lot of differant kind of plants...
ive seen so many bees and very very many purple plants that bees like...

hope ive not waffled to much/as i do at times...

thx for your time and thoughts scottish and thx for making insect life more interestin to me by your informative blog..

from jane...

5 Aug, 2013


Many white butterflies here too.

5 Aug, 2013


Only white butterflies here but lots of bees I really miss the peacocks & red admirals they were down in numbers last year so something is amiss with the decline of them not to show again this year ,it is raining very heavy here again today not due to stop until about 5-6 pm so it's more fiddling about on the computer ,camera , and I have two chapters of a very enjoyable book to finish oh dear forgot about some housework LoL .

5 Aug, 2013


Love reading about the insect population and learning more all the time. Mainly white butterflies here in large numbers, the odd Peacock and one Red Admiral but have seen a couple of Meadow Browns, which we don't usually have, and the bees have been numerous. I think we have fewer hoverflies than usual and certainly fewer wasps but wait till the plums ripen. Both butterflies and wasps love them and it's a bumper crop. Went to Hazelwood Open Garden in Silverdale yesterday where they have a separate wildlife area and it was superb and throbbing with insect life. We spotted a Brimstone there - lovely.
Interesting about your paler bees, Angie. In France we've seen lavender bees on the lavender flowers! Thought I was seeing things at first, but their little behinds really were lavender - hued.

5 Aug, 2013


Some great pictures Scottish...we too have lots of bees particularly buff tailed but others I can't identify.particularly on our circle of lavender! We certainly don't have as many or wide variety of butterflies as you this year.even the cabbage whites have only recently appeared and in no where near as large numbers as usual! Saw a Meadow Brown last week when I was out with my camera!

5 Aug, 2013


Wonderful close-ups and lovely to see so many butterflies.
We have seen many whites, a few tortoisehells and peacocks and a comma butterfly also. Have also seen some smallish brown ones but not sure what they are.

5 Aug, 2013


Whilst I'm not in the UK, I think I live almost close enough to join in here and we have pretty much the same weather patterns. I was going to comment last week that I have had far more bees in my garden this year and ones I have not seen before. Loads of cabbage whites, a couple of peacocks, a couple of red admirals and meadow browns and quite a few small tortoiseshells and lot of commas. I have also got more moths than in the past. There have been a few hoverflies but no-where near as many as in the past couple of years. However, I also found about 10 harlequin ladybirds which I was not happy about! And the 'good' ladybird population seems to be way down this year. And so far, not so many wasps.

5 Aug, 2013


Plenty of bumble bees in my part of the world. Plenty of cabbage whites as well. Not many bees nor hoverflies. And luckily no wasps - had a problem with them nesting just outside my fence last year - was bit affraid to get to the shed or do some repotting.

5 Aug, 2013


I've no idea what might be missing, Scottish, but have no shortage of wasps.
They seem to love convolvulus.

5 Aug, 2013


We have lots of bees, I haven't really looked into what types we have but I'm inspired to now! Plenty of cabbage whites but have also seen a few tortoisehells and a couple of red admirals. Lots of hoverflies but not a single wasp or ladybird so far. Great blog and lovely pics Scottish :)

5 Aug, 2013


no ladybirds here, very few wasps (so far) and not too bad for aphids either. Plenty of Bees and butterflies (well, more than last year anyway) but hardly any hover flies yet. Love the pic with the three different insects in it.

5 Aug, 2013


Thanks all for joining in - it's been good to read what others are experiencing.
It appears that white butterflies are enjoy the weather this year - wherever we are living.
Wasps and Ladybirds seem to be in short supply!
Hywel - had to look up shield bug, don't think I've ever seen one of those. Thanks for bringing moths to my attention - I've noticed quite a few but know nothing much about them. That will be my homework ;)
SL - I do hope the blues make a return to your area. Glad to have reminded you of the count. Results will make interesting reading.
Snoop - good point. There are a few older farm buildings near me up of 'development' luckily there is no money around and are yet to be bought! My brother HAD a plum tree in his garden, the wasps were too much so he got rid!!
Meadowland - those whites flying high were obviously 'courting' I wonder if they got lucky ;) Like the 2 in the picture above.
Jane - I'm glad you enjoyed. I never really took much interest in the insects before but am enjoying learning and observing them. I like to see new things visit the garden. I have a wild area opposite (due for development) and the butterfly population is enormous. I really should get over there with the camera.
Costas - I hope you see more as the season progresses!
Kidsgran, sorry to read you are getting rain. It's been a lovely day here. I hope you get other butterflies visiting soon. Housework??? What's that ;)
Tuesday - Lavender bees? Amazing. Good to read you have a bumper crop of plums, plenty to go around and share with the wildlife then!
Paul, not so good to read that butterfly numbers are down where you are. I bought a new lavender plant the other day, it was covered in bees in the GC but I've yet to see a bee near it in the garden! They must prefer what else is on offer!
Chris, pleased you are getting some butterflies, especially the comma. I hope you can get an id of the smallish brown ones.
Digginfit - by the sounds of it, things are very similar over there. Sorry to read you found the harlequin ladybirds. I've not seen a single ladybird at all this year. That's one less than last year! Increase in moths is a good thing. As I said above I need to do a bit of homework on those!
Kasy, a neighbour has had to deal with a wasp nest in the eves just above her front door, so fully understand where you are coming from! Quite frightening things! I hope your bee and hoverfly population pick up!
Mouldy - you'll have a better idea next year, now that your garden is starting to come together, you have something to compare. Is there a reason they like the Convovulus I wonder? Maybe they feed on something else that likes it too!
Dirtyred - I'm glad I've encouraged you to look into your bee population. I think it's good to learn, then you have something to compare. Glad to read you are seeing butterflies.
Karen - no ladybirds here either and very few aphids. That may be the reason. Although I only saw one last year! I think it's odd re hoverflies, my garden is usually full of them. Only little marmalade coloured ones so far. Last year I had large black and white ones in their droves!

5 Aug, 2013


No ladybirds here either, only white butterflies but plenty of bees I'm glad to say, love your second to last photo of the three different creatures, great shot. Wasps usually arrive when the fruits are ripening or when we decide to eat outside!!

5 Aug, 2013


No Ladybirds or Hoverflies so far ... no Speckled Wood or Gatekeeper Butterflies but some Whites/Peacocks/Blues and Commas. Lots of Bees around the Lavender and Penstemons ... I am pleased to have an ID for the Field Cuckoo Bumblebee ... strange shiny back which looked almost wet! I watered some plants earlier this evening and disturbed a fair few Moths ... don't mind them though ... :o)

6 Aug, 2013


Grandmage - glad to hear you are getting plenty of bees. It would be nice to see a rise in the ladybird population, they are never abundant here.
Shirley - yes, the Field Cuckoo Bee took me by surprise - I caught a quick snap and was id'd on here. They are quite the villain! Hadn't noticed the moths until they were pointed out to me on this blog. I watered last night and found similar.

7 Aug, 2013


I thought the same, S....they seemed to be almost dancing!

8 Aug, 2013


Hoverflies were in short supply until recently. I planted some purple ageratum and this morning there must have been at least 20 - 30 hoverflies on them. They are also enjoying the flowers of the purple-leaved sedum. In the last couple of days, the Peacocks have started to appear - at last. This morning I did a bee survey, noting all the different bee markings but I got so confused when I googled them in order to identify - it's really not that easy!

8 Aug, 2013


Have no shortage of CW's, seen 2 Red Ad's, but they're too fast & flighty for poor old Mouldy & his even poorer phone camera & a wee flutterby about quarter the size of both...brown with markings.
Also many other fliers.
I feel an ill-informed blog coming on. Lol.

9 Aug, 2013


Tuesday - the hoverfly population has just exploded in my garden this last 2 days too! My sedums aren't quite flowering yet, so will be interesting to see what comes then. is a good place to start with IDs their diagrams are quite good, I find the colour of their bums helps rule some in or out, then short list and work from there.
Mouldy - good you are getting some flutterbies - is good to help with IDs.

9 Aug, 2013


Hi Mouldy ... if you type 'identify a Butterfly' into your search engine you will see an ID list come up ... I wonder if your brown Butterfly may have been a variety of Skipper? I was going to print off a copy for myself ... but the printer is only doing black and white today ... a pointless exercise then! ... :o)

9 Aug, 2013


Ha ha Scottish - we posted at the same time! ... :o)

9 Aug, 2013


Great minds Shirley :) My printer does that occasionally that and when it's important the bloody thing doesn't work at all!!

9 Aug, 2013


Welcome to my world Scottish .....

9 Aug, 2013


Love your shots of pollinators! With all the geraniums, we get lots of bees, but this year it is the Monarch Butterflies that are missing! I think a lot of things came together this year, such as severe storms in the mid-USA when they were migrating, on top of the lack of milkweed in some areas. Numbers were at record lows in the Mexican wintering areas too. We often raise 100 to 500 from found eggs and caterpillars, but this year we found only 2 eggs! It will be hard for the migratory population to rebound. The other butterfly numbers are down too and I suspect the use of insecticides on crops and seeds (neonicitinoids - not sure of spelling) as the beekeepers claim this is hurting the honeybee populations. I think this product has been banned or controlled better in parts of Europe.

John in Canada

13 Aug, 2013


Thanks John - I saw something online yesterday about a project encouraging folks over there to sow seeds of milkweed to help the Monarchs. Great idea.
There was a documentary on TV the other week by the BBC called Killing our Bees - it was looking at all aspects of the decrease in the bee population. Worth a look if you can get it online.
Thanks for comments :)

13 Aug, 2013


Thanks Shirley, I'll give it a try at some time!
Scottish, I can recall reading an article a few years ago that said more species of moths fly during daylight than those at night, contrary to the popular belief!

18 Aug, 2013

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