Going Underground

I think I have mentioned before that we have been rearing some lime hawk moth caterpillars on birch leaves, this week we noticed that they were changing colour and seemed uninterested in their food. This is a sure sign that they were ready to pupate, so I put about 10cm of sand in the bottom of their tank and put them back in. Before I got the second one back the first was already starting to bury itself.

lime hawk caterpillar going under

lime hawk caterpillar going underground

Generally this week has seen an upturn in insect numbers, with more moths in the trap and many more dragonflies and butterflies flying about by day.

large yellow underwing

large yellow underwing, one of the commonest Noctuid moths.


Brussels lace

Brussels lace

I have also blogged previously about the bee wolf wasps that frequent the edges of the Lichen Heath. They dig nests in the sand and provision them with honey bees which feed their larvae.

bee wolf

bee wolf

bee wolf with prey

bee wolf with captured honey bee

However it would seem that the bee wolves don’t get things all their own way, as I took the pictures above I noticed a small fly hanging around the nest hole entrance.

bee wolf defending nest hole

Fly at bee wolf nest entrance

The fly made several forays into the entrance, but it was blocked by the wasp with its formidable jaws. However the fly did not seem put off but just waited by the entrance. I suspect the fly was trying to lay its own eggs into the nest hole, probably to feed off the honey bee, but perhaps also the bee wolf larva. I had noticed that some of the nest holes are covered over by the bee wolf when they leave their nest, probably to stop these flies getting down when they are away.