Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust reveals the top five creatures to spot in spring
Many of us are spending more time in our gardens and cherishing the wildlife that we see, writes Rachel Shaw of Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust.
Now that spring is finally here, the days are longer and nature responds with increased activity. Birds are singing, insects are emerging and buds are blooming. Whatever the size of your garden or your nearby green space there is something to discover.
Here are the top five creatures to spot this season in your garden:
Fabulous fluffy flies
The dark-edged bee-fly looks like a bumble bee, with a long, straight proboscis (tongue) that it uses to feed on nectar from spring flowers, such as primroses and violets. It is on the wing in the early spring. In flight, it is even more like a bee as it produces a high-pitched buzz.
There are several species of bee-fly in the UK, which can be very difficult to tell apart; the dark-edged bee-fly has dark markings on the edge of the wing, while others have plainer, translucent wings.
The bumbling hum of large bumblebees is a common sound in gardens and the red-tailed bumblebee lives up to its name. The female red-tailed bumblebee is a large, black bumblebee with a big red 'tail'. Males are smaller and, as well as the red tail, have two yellow bands.
Emerging early in the spring and feeding on flowers right through to the autumn, these bumblebees can be found anywhere there are flowers to feed on. It is a social bee, nesting in old burrows or under stones.
Living green shields
Shieldbugs look like beetles with shield-shaped bodies but they are ‘true bugs’. They are sometimes called 'stink bugs', because they can release a strong-smelling fluid from special glands when handled or disturbed.
The common green shieldbug feeds on a wide variety of plants and they can turn up anywhere from garden to farm. Adults overwinter and emerge in spring, laying their eggs on the undersides of leaves. The rounded nymphs appear in June and new adults are present in early autumn.
A sure sign of spring is seeing the dancing flight of an orange-tip butterfly. This distinctive butterfly is on the wing from April to July. The male orange-tip is unmistakeable: a white butterfly with bold orange wingtips. The female is also white but lacks the orange wing tips. Both sexes have a mottled, 'mossy grey' pattern on the underside of their hindwings when at rest.
The food plants of the caterpillars are garlic mustard, cuckooflower and hedge mustard.
Charms of goldfinches
The tinkling melodic song of goldfinches was almost their downfall. In the 19th Century, many thousands of goldfinches were caught and kept as cage-birds. By the 1890's, the goldfinch was an endangered species. But at some point, they moved from farmland into the suburbs and, now, into the heart of cities. They have learnt to take advantage of the food people put out in gardens. This extra source of food has helped more goldfinches survive the winter and breed in the spring.
- Share the photos of wildlife in your garden with the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust on their facebook page.