Not an ant … the pollinators abound

We are into a little heatwave for the next few days, so make sure you keep your plants cool and hydrated as much as possible. This morning I draped a few old curtains and bits of shadecloth on some of the more sensitive and desirable plants – strawbs, raspberries and youngberry, the just planted basil, and the still smallish lettuces, beans. Could’ve done more … but at least the soil is still holding a bit of moisture from that 20mm we had earlier in the week.

The heat hasn’t stopped the pollinators though – they just seem to get up earlier! The bees are really enjoying the fennel flowers at the moment and there were other insects too, hoverflies and plenty that I couldn’t recognise nor name.

And on that topic, Erica sent a photo of this amazing critter that she found under the borage last week asking if I knew it. Looks like an ant, but it ain’t. With the help of Patrick (did you know ants have an elbow bend in their antennae?) and Kate – two local ‘insectivores’ – we discovered that it is in fact a wasp! And that Bowerbird is a pretty neat site.

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According to Kate it’s a female Diamma bicolor:

Her common name is ‘blue ant’ but she is actually a wingless flower wasp (family Tiphiidae). See http://www.bowerbird.org.au/sightings?query=%22blue%20ant%22  for both females and the very different but waspish males. She is known to have a potent sting — wisest not to handle! I’ve not seen them at Strangways. I thought it might be too dry. Nearest records on Atlas of Living Australia are Mount Alexander and Ballarat. (Identified records on Bowerbird get uploaded to the Atlas of Living Australia – ALA).
It occurred to me that the Community Garden would be a great place to start recording local invertebrate pollinators — the whole gamut from bees, wasps, butterflies, spiders, ants etc. You can set up your own project on Bowerbird to record any aspect of biodiversity. Both Patrick and I contribute from time to time.

Good spotting Erica and thanks Kate and Patrick. Maybe we could have a session with you in the garden next spring?

And a couple of photos from Peter, who visited in spring to try budding from our garden plums again …. let’s hope they take.

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