Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Purple Emperor

The largest of our butterflies in the U.K. and, the most sought after. The Purple Emperor spends most of it's life in the canopy of Oak Trees, fighting with other males and, seeking out females in which to mate with.

But occasionally the males desend to the ground to take in salts/minerals to replenish their energy levels. They get this from a number of sources, including damp ground, Horse droppings, Dog poo, and, Fox Sprat, [one of their favourites] to name a few. This provides the best opportunity for butterfly enthusiasts/photographers to get a photo of this elusive butterfly.

Once mated the females lay their eggs, [ova, ovum] on the top of Sallow leaves. They hatch after about two weeks and overwinter as a larva, resuming feeding in early Spring. The butterflies start to emerge anywhere between the last week of June and the fist two weeks of July, all depending on the weather. They are single brooded and fly until late August.

Male Purple Emperor with it's wings closed, taking salts/minerals from the damp ground

Male Purple Emperor with it's wings opened out

Monday, 25 July 2016

Meadow Brown, female, 2016

The Meadow Brown is possibly the commonest butterfly in Britain and, can be found in meadows, woodland rides/clearings, roadside verges, and on chalk habitats etc., they have one flight season between late May and September.

Female Meadow Brown 
Female Meadow Brown closed wing shot

Friday, 22 July 2016

Red Admiral ovum, unusually laid on....

This Red Admiral ovum has been laid on a female Nettle flower which, is very unusual.  And could be the only record of this rare find.

The Red Admiral ovum is just to the right of the Nettle stem, about a 3rd
of the way up the photo.

Red Admiral ovum on a female Nettle flower

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Honey Bee

The Honey Bee is declining at a rapid pace, and this really needs to be addressed as soon as possible. This beautiful little insect is a vital part of our eco system along with many other insects who do a very important job of pollinating our flowers and crops.

Some photos of the Honey Bee.

Adder, female

The Adder [or Viper] is one of three snakes found in the U.K. and, is our only venomous snake. It is found on Heathland and sunny woodland clearings etc. as long as the habitat is dry and receives a lot of sun with some scrub. The females are larger than males and, are brown and black in coloration, the males have grey and black scales.

Adult female Adder

A darker brown young female Adder

A beautiful rustic coloured young female Adder

A lighter form of an adult female Adder, depicting the scales on the head and back

And getting rather personal with this female Adder

And a rarer female black Adder.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Long-horned Bee

The Long-horned Bee has become very rare in Britain with most known sites being confined to the south/southwest coast, of England and Wales with a few inland sites, which are even rarer. Ref. Buglife. Find out more on,

They are very sociable Bees even though they are solitary insects. Only the males have the long antenna from which they get their name, the females have much shorter antennas.

The nest sites are found in bare soil, banks, cliff faces, ditches and sparse vegetation etc.

Young males have golden coloured hairs on the back of the thorax, whilst older males have white hairs covering the back of their thorax. Females also have golden coloured hairs covering the back of their thorax.

Old male Long-horned Bee.

Young male Long-horned Bee.

Female Long-horned Bee.

Female Long-horned Bee

On an inland site in the South-east of England that i have been monitoring, i found 34 nest entrances by watching the females coming and going. The nest site was on flat ground, in mainly sparse vegetation and a small amount of naked soil. The first nest entrance was found on 2nd June and the last one on 17th July and, with two of the nest entrances being found 14-15 metres away from the main site.

I watched the males continually flying low over the proposed nest site before any excavation had even taken place. Younger male would sometimes hit the older males in flight, rolling them over on the ground, then flying off.

A young male Long-horned Bee flying over the proposed nest site

The first of four photos depicting a young male rolling over an older male.

A female Long-horned Bee busy digging one of the many tunnels at this site on 8th July.

The nest site of the Long-horned Bee.

Several of the nest entrances had two tunnels leading off the main entrance to the egg chambers, which were opposite each other and, were used by at least two individual females. On one occasion i watched a female enter a nest entrance, only to be removed, physically by another female using the same tunnels.

The first of five photos depicting the removal of a female Long-horned Bee by another female.

Photo 2

Photo 3

Photo 4

Photo 5, the last in the sequence.

A nest entrance in sparse vegetation.  The high majority of the nest entrances were very tidy and circular like this one.

A nest entrance in amongst grass and moss.

Two nest holes in sparse vegetation.

 A female Long-horned Bee entering another of the 34 nest entrances.

 Another nest entrance that is not so rounded, [which was not a typical entrance hole] with a female Long-horned Bee moving about in the the tunnels.

Two female Long-horned Bees sharing the same entrance.

Four nest entrances with one female in the tunnel and, one having just emerged from the same entrance hole .

The Long-horned Bees were mainly visiting flowers to feed on, such as Bitter Vetch, Bugle [just the males] and Clovers. Bramble flowers were also used by females later in the year.

Male Long-horned Bee on Bugle.

Male Long-horned Bee on Bitter Vetch.

Female Long-horned Bee on Bramble flower gathering nectar for her off-spring.

The first entrance hole to an egg chamber was sealed by the 23rd July, using small particles of soil.

All photos are the copyright of Nick Broomer.