Following on from last week’s post about the Ashy Mining Bee, here’s yet another new record for our garden that I spotted yesterday – the Lunar Hornet Moth (Sesia bembeciformis), one of the Clearwing Moths (family Sesiidae). It’s a fabulous example of Batesian Mimicry in which a harmless species (the moth) has evolved to resemble a more dangerous or toxic species, in this case large wasps or hornets. I certainly had to look twice when I saw it!
These moths do sometimes visit flowers such as umbellifers though the shot below is posed: the moth flew out of my hands as I was moving it and landed on this cultivated geranium. The larvae feed on sallow and willow (Salix spp.) which we don’t have in the garden, but there’s lots in and around this part of the town.
Looking at the NBN Atlas account for the species I think that this may be a first record for Northampton town itself, though it is recorded out in the county.
Today I’ve been cracking on with the refurbishment of the old summer house at the back of the garden that previous owners have let fall into rotten disrepair, whilst Karin attends a conference in London. The renovation has been a slow job, due to lack of time, but a lot of fun, and a good excuse to play with power tools. In between sawing and drilling, however, I’ve been keeping an eye out for bees and other flower visitors and was delighted to spot a new species for the garden – the Ashy Mining Bee (Andrena cineraria). It’s a beautiful and distinctive insect that I know from other sites in Northampton, but had not recorded here previously. The record has been submitted to the BWARS recording scheme for this species.
Do look out for this bee, it’s difficult to confuse it with anything else (which is rare in Andrena….) Here’s a few photographs of a female collecting pollen from a cultivated rose, that I took with my phone: