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June Wildlife in the Garden

What Garden Wildlife to Look out for in June: Common Toad, Pipistrelle Bat, Lesser Stag Beetle, Patchwork Leafcutter Bee, Privet Hawkmoth and Hummingbird Hawkmoth.

The weather has been a mixed bag this month, but at least we have had some sun to resemble summer! The bird nesting season is by and large starting to come to an end. I am enjoying seeing the fledged baby birds in our garden being fed! Anyway, our garden wildlife list has certainly had a boost, but we are few behind last year’s total at this stage. Having said that we have now seen 268 species, which is pretty impressive! Here are some notable species to watch out for, some we have seen and some we have not.

Common Toads are well known for their migrations and now is a great time to look for toadlets undertaking this journey. The young toads will spend most of the winter months away from the water foraging for invertebrates, and then will return to the same pond as adults to start the cycle again. We have not seen any toads this year so far, but our frog tadpoles are coming along nicely. One or two of them have already become froglets and most have at least two legs. Hopefully, we will see a toad soon as well. Moving onto mammals, at this time of year particularly on warm evenings you can see bats on the wing, most of which will almost certainly be Pipistrelles. On rare occasions you can also see them during the day like we did on our holiday recently. Unfortunately, it is not always a good sign as it can mean that they are unwell or just starving, but not always. What you will not see, unless you are privileged enough to have a license, is the mother bats with their babies as now is the time they give birth. It is a real strain on the mothers as it is reportedly the equivalent of giving birth to a five-year-old child, ouch! They then gather into maternity creches.

An impressive insect we found in our garden recently was the Lesser Stag Beetle. If you also have a log pile in your garden you may be providing a home for this spectacular beetle, although arguably not quite as magnificent as its larger relitive. These beetles spend much of their lives chewing wood as grubs, then emerging as adults in early to midsummer. As adults they will spend much of their time underground before mating and laying the eggs on rotting wood. They can be distinguished from their Stag Beetle cousins by the obvious size difference, but other than putting the two next to each other the lesser has a dull black back and smaller mandibles rather than shiny brown wing cases and large jaws of the male Stag Beetle.

Another insect I have seen recently is the Patchwork Leafcutter Bee, which seems to particularly like our irises. As the name suggests, these bees chew sections out of leaves to use as lining for the cavities they use for nests for there young. The Patchwork Leafcutter is one of the commonest to be seen in gardens of this group of solitary bees. They feed from a wide verity of flowers such as knapweed and, as I have mentioned, it seems they like irises. For the leaf-cuttings they use they tend to prefer plants like roses, birch, and ash to name a few. They are quite fluffy like bumblebees, but their resemblances are closer to that of a Honeybee. If you have a bee hotel you may be able to watch them hard at work as they go in and out lining the nests.

We finish with two magnificent moths, which are probably in my top ten brittish insects. The first I will mention is a giant, and I was delighted to see one in our moth trap the other day as the photos show! The Privet Hawkmoth is our largest resident species of moth only dwarfed by the rare vagrant to our shores the Death’s-head Hawkmoth. This moth overwinters as a pupa emerging in June and July. They are particularly fond of strong night scented plants like honeysuckle and will readily come to moth traps. The name, as with many moths and butterflies, refers to the food-plant the caterpillars like to eat and they will also eat lilac, ash, and again honeysuckle. The other moth, which I have not seen so far this year is the Hummingbird Hawkmoth. This extraordinary moth really does resemble a hummingbird, so much so that I have known people mistake them for the real thing! However, sorry to disappoint you, this would be extremely unlikely nearing impossible. The amazing thing about these moths is they migrate across the channel, which is no mean feat for something so small. They are commonly seen in gardens, and unlike many moths, are active during the day so keep your eyes peeled. I have seen them feeding on plants such as lavender and phacelia.

That concludes my round up of June garden wildlife so I hope you enjoyed reading it. I will be back with more wildlife very soon!

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