Last time I gave you a picture of two jaw-bones as the mystery item to identify, this was obviously a bit too nasty as no one even tried to guess, they were in fact the lower jaws of a Rabbit. Today I would like to show you all the dead insects I have collected over the years – though in fact most are from my childhood, which explains a lot.
This first picture shows several constructions created by insects as homes/nests, as a group the insects are famously brilliant at engineering their own homes or traps for prey or places to lay their eggs. These are all wasp nests, which can be told apart from bee combs because they are made from paper rather than wax, the wasps can often be seen (or heard) scraping strips of wood off of fence posts or trees in spring and summer. This pulp is mashed together with their own saliva into a paste which is applied in thin layers to gradually build up the hexagonal walls – on close examination you can see that there are different coloured layers in the comb; indicating different sources of wood for the pulp.
My two favourite possessions here are this Cockchafer beetle and the dried husk of a Common Hawker, the chafer came from a garden, found dead on the ground – these large and lumbering insects often bump into objects in the night as they clumsily search for mates in summer. The dragonfly came from under the roof of a garage, it got extremely hot under there so this specimen was roasted into a stiff position, wings held aloft – it unfortunately has lost its head so the huge and magnificent eyes are missing also.
An assortment of curios in this picture; two Small Tortoiseshell fore-wings, a very small bumblebee, a honey-bee worker and a Small Magpie moth. The butterfly wings were taken from the third-floor of a church bell tower, clearly a favourite hibernation site for these insects in winter, birds and even wasps will take advantage of sleeping butterflies and eat them – discarding the wings.
The central object in this picture is a (probable) moth pupae case, found under the ground in my garden – moths caterpillars commonly bury themselves to pupate as it protects them from predators and major temperature changes. The bee at the top is a queen bumblebee, told by her large size, a much smaller worker is at the bottom left, next to this bee is a hoverfly – mimicking a honey-bee in colouration as a deterrent to predators.
Finally is this strange creature, this weeks mystery insect, which I picked up in a wood in Suffolk. To give you a clue it is not a wasp or bee but is closely related to both; don’t worry about the exact species unless you actually know – this is also the last mystery object as the next nature table post will be the last.