Allotment insects

Allotments attract a diversity of insects though they are not always visible or easy to photograph.  Providing a suitable environment for insects often means encouraging a range of native and naturalized plants. Nettles provide food and shelter for these small tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) caterpillars emerging from their silken nest.


Ground elder (Aegopodium podagraria) is also a favourite food resource for bees and hoverflies. White tailed bumblebee (Bombus lucorum) is a complex of widespread and abundant species, typically black-and-yellow banded. It has a lemon-yellow collar at the front of the thorax and another bright yellow band in the middle of the abdomen, with a pure white tail.


Males have bright yellow facial hairs and are often extensively yellowed, particularly in the thorax.  Below is a Common Carder bee (Bombus pascuorum) though not as ginger as some, so perhaps a male.


Red tailed bumble bees (Bombus lapidarius) are seen on many flower species even on  Creeping buttercups.  This one is a worker and has no banding.


Buff tailed bumble bee (Bombus terrestris) has a short tongue but still manages to sup nectar by biting holes at the base of  tubular flowers like Russian Comfrey (Symphytum  x uplandicum).

bombus terrestris

White tailed and Buff tailed workers are difficult to tell apart.


A few weeks ago, this small and very cute bee turned to feed on Sage (Salvia officinalis).  Coloured grey it fitted the description of a Grey mining Bee (Andrena cineraria). It’s  a grey hairy face and body suggests it was a male.



Another common allotment and garden bumble bee, the Tree bee (Bombus hypnorum) arrived in the UK in 2001 and since then has spread widely and is pictured below. Although an invasive species the advice is to leave them alone to complete their natural breeding cycle.



Featured next in a rather poor photograph is another worrisome species the Harlequin ladybird (Harmonia axyridis) with a 7 spot (Coccinella septempunctata) ladybird for comparison. It is highly variable in appearance and reaches huge numbers in the Autumn. The 7 spot is more common on the allotment at the moment.


but the larva in the photograph below is a Harlequin.


An unusual looking bee turned up this week. Completely unfamiliar to me, a male Hairy footed flower bee (Anthophora plumipes).  A solitary bee, they are spreading from the South, perhaps due to climate warming.



Bumblebee conservation trust

UK Ladybird Survey

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