Monday, 17 June 2013

A Rich Insect Life

The rhododendrons are in full flower at the moment, and a magnificent sight they make, but rhododendron is an invasive species here in the west Highlands, and they've taken over huge areas of land - to the extent that there have been grants available for clearing them.  So we don't like them very much, but the bees do.

These two pictures were taken of big bumblebees feeding on a rhododendron just down the road from us, past Trevor Potts' Ardnamurchan Campsite.  The air was full of the hum of their activity, and of various other bees and wasps who were joining in the feast.

We were, therefore, shocked when we travelled down to Suffolk a couple of weeks ago and found that, on a country walk on a fine summer's morning through farmland and RSPB water meadow, we saw very few insects and, in the two hours we were out, only half a dozen or so butterflies, all belonging to one, white species.  Walking across West Ardnamurchan's wild moorland yesterday, we saw countless butterflies, and on a trip down to the shop we expect to see several species.

It won't only be the noticeable insect life that's disappearing where there's intensive agriculture, it'll also be the bugs you don't normally notice unless they land somewhere convenient, like on a finger.  This friendly green thing came to a barbeque we attended on Saturday.  Despite searches in Google Images for things like 'green flying insect' we can't identify it - can a Diary reader?

Very little in the way of pesticide is spread across the land on West Ardnamurchan, so we still have all the benefits and, sometimes, the disadvantages of a rich insect life.  The dangers of losing our bee population has been highlighted in the press over the last few years, but for so many of these little beasties, we have no idea what they do - for or against us.  Each species' loss merges into the the mass extinction that's happening at the moment, largely due to human activity.


  1. Am no expert but am wondering if it's a species of Ichneumon wasp? Its general shape certainly puts me in mind of a wasp.

  2. Rhododendron aka Gentry Weed.

  3. Billy Williamson18 June 2013 at 08:08

    The green flying insect is a green sawfly , Rhogogaster.

  4. Rhogogaster viridis, a green Sawfly (one of my favourites). The black coverage is variable in extent and the green colour can be of different hues.

    Derryck Morton, Devon

  5. Many thanks to all of you who suggested identifications for the insect. Rhogogaster viridis it is, and I can quite understand why you call it one of your favourites, Derryck. It was quite beautiful. Jon

  6. i have taken a couple of photo's of thi insect and like you i cant find it anywhere.

  7. Green sawfly - see the earlier comments. Jon