Saturday, 24 July 2010

Much Less Bover!

The old advert for Flymow said it was " Much less bover than a hover".   This could never apply to the enchanting little insects to be found in great profusion around are gardens at this time of year, collectively called the Hoverflies.  They are no 'bover' at all, indeed they are a great asset to the gardener as they pollinate flowers and their larvae often feed on garden pests such as aphids.
There are over 200 different Hoverfly species in about 200 different families throughout the globe and they can be found on every continent except Antarctica, with about 300 separate species in Britain.  Many have become wonderful mimics of other insects, particularly the wasps and bees, some are very difficult to distinguish from the 'real' thing.  This one, on the Hebe flowers on our patio, was a little charmer..
This is a female - identified because it's eyes have a large gap between them towards the top of the head, males eyes tend to have no gap and appear to touch at the top. I am still trying to positively identify this fly, not an easy task when there are so many species and many look very similar.
On our walk this morning, it was nice to see the waterside plants beginning to flower in the warm sunshine. A particular favourite of mine is the Hemp Agrimony (Eupatorium cannabinum). Related to the Daisies and Chrysanthemums, the flowers are many and tightly packed into the flower heads to form a 'fluffy' appearance. The flowers of the Hemp Agrimony are not only pretty in pink, but also very attractive to insects, especially to several butterflies species.
Among those native species, one highly problematic plant, on the list of the world's 100 most invasive species, is in evidence almost everywhere in Britain these days. The Japanese Knotweed (Fallopia japonica) is, in the right place a highly ornamental and statuesque plant, perfect for the larger garden where height and 'impact' are required. But, when that plant started to shake off the confines of ornamental gardens and spread around the countryside, a problem was born. The invasive root system and strong growth can damage foundations, buildings, flood defences, roads, paving, retaining walls and other architectural sites. It also crowds out other, native species.
So it is with some trepidation, that it's 8ft high stems are to be seen around these parts too.
The young stems, which mature to look like large bamboo canes, are edible and are supposed to taste rather like rhubarb, so perhaps we should all be going out and cutting it down to eat! That would at least help to keep it under control.
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