Fruit trees are in blossom this month, giving us stunning sights and reminding us that spring is truly here. Also providing pollen and nectar for pollinating insects, especially bees but it seems that some, particularly bumble bees, may not know what to do. Research has shown that the use of pesticide interferes with their foraging instincts. The adult female bumble bee, which you may see this month buzzing low over the ground, as she searches for a small hole to use as a nest site in which to lay her eggs. She then collects pollen and nectar for the larvae to feed on when her eggs hatch out. But if the food store is contaminated with pesticides the bumble bees, which the larvae will eventually turn into, may not know where to find their food which, obviously, will affect the future population of these important insects.
Anglian Water have had to reroute a sewer pipeline planned near Kings Lynn after some workers found a rare moth in the area; the moth, the Orange conch, was thought to be extinct in Norfolk. The larvae of this moth live and feed on the roots of Ragwort.
The adult, which is yellowy-orange with black markings, is among the group of insects known as micro-moths. Anglian Water says they take any disturbance of the environment very seriously and will do a detailed survey of any potential site where work is planned.
A study in America has discovered that some moths have evolved to make themselves taste bad to put off predators, such as bats. Where as previously they took evasive action or were able to emit sounds to confuse the bats, now some have found a way to produce chemicals which makes the bats spit them out. I wonder who stayed up all night to observe this behaviour!
Butterflies are starting to fly and the first ones we usually see are Brimstones and Peacocks, which have been hibernating as adults in hidden places throughout the winter and, later this month, the Orange tip. This one spends the winter as a pupa and hatches into the adult in the spring. The male is very distinctive and as his name suggests, he has orange tips to his wings; the female has grey or black tips.
Who would have thought there would ever have been some good news about Japanese knotweed! This highly invasive plant is almost impossible to eradicate and is able to grow through walls and concrete floors and will take over any ground where it grows. But it seems that it may have a medical use against Lyme disease. This illness, as we have talked about before, is spread by tick bites and can make people quite poorly, so if we can make use of the plant to treat it, we could solve two problems in one go.
The other plant that has the habit of taking over is Alexander and that will be in flower this month. Very distinctive, with its greenish-yellow flowers, it spreads like wild fire along roadsides and in gardens.
Birds are nesting, now, and we have two nest boxes already occupied, one by Blue tits and the other by Great tits. So far our killer cat, Ozzy, hasn’t caught any birds but I suppose she will learn to do that when the young start to leave their nests. She still catches voles which, if we leave the door open, seem to know their way out. It’s the bad thing about keeping a cat. Ozzy also occupies herself by helping with domestic duties, well she thinks she does, anyway!
No activities for this month as we are all housebound. So keep safe and well, everybody.