I recently had a conversation with a fellow artist, Catherine Greenwood, about Artist Residencies and she mentioned that she once had a residency in an edible hedge.
I feel I a bit like I've just had a residency in my Raspberry patch - now I get it Catherine!
The Raspberries are just outside my window and I regularly watch the wildlife: birds using the support structure, butterflies resting and bees pollinating. A few years ago, the year we had a huge wasp nest in the loft, the flowers were largely pollinated by wasps. This year I believe there's a nearby nest of carder bees and these are joined by honeybees and the occasional small hoverfly.
The raspberries are popular with Squash and Shield bugs - they drop to the ground, playing dead when you touch them.
The ones seen this week are the Dock Bug Coreus marginatus - there is Sorrel growing in the mini meadow and I believe these are the nymphs, probably early instar and late instar based on the British Bugs website where it is described as a Squashbug.
And the other is a nymph of the Common Green Shieldbug - Palomena prasina
The following images were taken at different times around the garden and on my morning walk. To be honest, I can't be sure they are the common shield bug but I am pretty certain they are shield bugs. The first instar is rather cute!
And then there were a couple of caterpillars. The stick like one has been identified as The Engrailled Ectropis bistotata (thanks to Wendy for searching her Jim Porter's marvellous book - apparently its the only one that does that funny pose). I forgot to ask her about the other one! (update - the hairy one is probably a Vapourer or one of the other Tussocks) Both seemed to have disappeared by the next day (predated overnight?) but I've since found The Engrailed pretending to be a stick
Then a little orange fly appeared. If you want to know about flies I suggest you follow Erica McAllister on instagram although I think her tweets are more fun (aka FlyGirl).
This was closely followed by a Wasp. Now I'm a bit more interested in the wasps at the moment, enough to notice this is not the same as the one I recorded burying prey in the paving. (Nature Diary 280721).
There were several flying around a wooden structure behind the raspberries and previously I had seen one disappear into the structure with prey. At first I assumed it was another digger wasp accessing the soil beneath, it was all a bit quick to photograph and they seemed very aware of me. It was subsequently identified as one of the Ectemnius species which are very difficult to differentiate. They nest in wood, excavating tunnels with several cells which are then stocked with food (various flies and hoverflies) for the developing brood - so I guess this one was having a quick clean up and rest ready for a bit of fly catching (or perhaps a male, just catching his breath). There's so much to learn!
And finally we get to the real reason I was searching among the raspberries today...
Now the arachnophobes will have probably switched of by now but I'm pretty sure this is a Harvestman rather than a Spider but I couldn't get close enough to be sure. There's some fun facts and better photos here.
The Raspberry patch is just outside my studio window so you can imagine how little work I am getting done at the moment as every movement catches the corner of my eye! But just one last picture .... don't forget that ants pollinate too ....
If I had known then what I know now
I would have started this diary years ago
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