Why wildlife comes to the garden

18 June 2013

I was rounding up recent photos of wildlife in the garden, and got to thinking about why I’m seeing the particular wildlife I am in the garden. I’ll share a few thoughts below: please add your comments.

Red-tailed bumblebee on chive flower

Red-tailed bumblebee on chive flower

The red-tailed bumblebee has a short tongue, which means that some flowers are better than others for it; it also likes a flower which forms a good landing platform, so it can move around between lots of small florets and get the maximum nectar for minimum energy-consuming flying. In this photo it is on a chive flower, which fits this description; in the past I’ve noticed them on the flowers of my cardoon, which is like a giant thistle.

Cockchafer beetle

Cockchafer beetle

Another large insect – the cockchafer beetle – is probably more attracted by the soil in the garden. Its larvae live underground for two years, and I do find them from time to time when gardening. They are sometimes considered an agricultural pest, as the larvae feed on roos and tubers, but I’m happy to have them: they are totally harmless, if a little unnerving as they fly about bashing into everything, and they are food for the larger bats. This one is a male – you can see its antennae have seven “leaves” – females have six.

Talking of bats, I saw my first one  in the garden last week. Not sure of the species, but it was large and flying round in  circles. Bats are looking for insects on which to feed, so it is probably the night-scented flowers in my garden that are helping attract them: night-scented flowers attract night-flying insects. The pond is possibly also helping, by attracting insects to the water.

And lastly – the squirrel. I don’t think there’s any doubt what is attracting him. I’ve given you the whole picture, as I love the way the birds are ignoring him, though the pigeon in the foreground looks rather startled by such goings-on.

Squirrel on peanut holder - with birds looking on

Squirrel on peanut holder

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