It's the end of our summer of insect and flower surveys now and we thought it would be a good time to showcase some of the flowers and insects we've happened upon along the way. So, each of us in the Reading team have put forward our favourite flowers and insects that we've encountered over the way. The flowers weren't ones that were particularly rare - or indeed - even native. But each of us has a favourite and here we explain why!
Nadine's favourite flower is the sunflower (Helianthus annuus) and favourite insect is the rose chafer (Cetonia aurata):
"It always cheers me up if I see a sunflower (see picture below). They are tall and impressive plants with huge flower heads and so easy to grow. Bees like them too and the seeds are loved by birds in winter (most of the time eaten up well before winter arrives).”
“The rose chafer beetle (picture below) is a really good looking beetle, quite big, all metallic green and not shy at all. We have seen these beetles quite a lot in June and July enjoying Spiraea and hogweed flowers."
Peter's favourite flower is the california poppy (Eschscholzia californica) and top insect was the hornet hoverfly (Volucella zonaria):
"California poppies (picture below with Peter in the background) have a nice bright orange colour (which is not a very common flower colour) and they seem to glow even when we have a gloomy day. They are loved by pollinators and it is a joy to photograph them in different angles. “
“The hornet hoverflies (see picture below) we have seen in August were a great find and the first time I have seen them. They are impressive hoverflies and have a very interesting lifestyle (see our August blog “Meet the hornet hoverfly”). I also like all the other hoverflies but the hornet hoverfly was the nicest one so far."
Sam's favourite flower is the orange hawkweed (Pilosella aurantiaca) and favourite insect was (unsurprisingly) the early bumblebee (Bombus pratorum) (see our June blog: "Charismatic MICRO fauna"!):
"We only encountered this bright Composite (picture below) in one allotment and on the edge of a pavement on the way to a park that we surveyed. The flower has the most incredible orange colour - it’s unlike any of the yellow Composites and really stands out. It is a deep orange in the centre - almost red and has the most amazing scent of honey. Although this is a well-known garden plant (sometimes a bit weedy) we never actually encountered it within one of our transect survey walks.
"My favourite insect has to be the tiny bumble Bombus pratorum (in the picture below enjoying Oreganum flowers). I blogged about this bee earlier in the season and I shamelessly maintain that it is the cutest bumblebee we have encountered!"
There you have it - our gratuitous, subjective, and distinctly unscientific blog for the week. Enjoy!