A buzz

Along with all the work we are doing in the vegetable garden there has been some major weeding happening in our front yard. It has been hard to see the garden plants out here from the weeds that sprang up while we were overseas for two months. Thankfully our chickens find the weeds pretty palatable so disposal is easy.

garden-mess
Bulbine Lilies, the yellow flowers in the foreground , struggle to be seen against sappy weeds and unwanted grasses

At least after the weeding we can now see our ‘grassland’ again. It has also been fantastic to see just how many butterflies, bees, hover flies and other pollinators are feeding on the flowers in this part of the garden.

front-summer
The white paper daisies are attracting masses of pollinators at this time of the year

Having ripped out the weeds it was clear that there was plenty of space for some new plants. I couldn’t resist trying some Mulla Mulla (Ptilotus exaltatus ‘Joey’) that I found at the local nursery. I’m not completely convinced about just how frost hardy they will prove to be in our garden (they are rated to withstand light frosts). I can only hope that they  will get sufficient protection from our nearby gum tree.

replanted
The newly planted Mulla Mulla, with the pink flowers

I was in the process of cutting back the flower spikes, to help the plants get over the transplant shock, when I had to stop. I could hardly believe my eyes. The Blue Banded bees, an Australian species, had appeared out of nowhere to feed on the flowers.

bbbee
A Blue Banded bee getting into the flowers of the Mulla Mulla

I left them to it.

 

Local pollinators

At this time of the year our front grassy woodland-type garden is alive with butterflies, bees, hoverflies and pollinators of all descriptions. I was trying to get a shot of my favourite Australian bee, the Blue-banded Bee (Amegilla), but although I saw them I had no luck getting a photo. I did however get to see plenty of other insects and take lots of out of focus shots of insects feeding on our paper daisies and also our native pelargoniums.

The most commonly seen butterfly in our garden at this time of year is Vanessa kershawii, the Australian Painted Lady and if you look behind it, in the photo below, you can also spot another smaller butterfly, called a Grass Dart, probably Ocybadistes walkeri (or possibly O. flavovittata).

The large butterfly is Vanessa kershawii and the smaller one behind it is  a Grass Dart, probably Ocybadistes walkeri
The large butterfly is an Australian Painted Lady, Vanessa kershawii and the smaller one behind it is a Grass Dart, probably Ocybadistes walkeri

I have to thank¬† Len Watkin of the Australian Moths Online for pointing out to me that this small creature wasn’t a moth, rather it was a butterfly.¬† Martin Purvis who looks after the Australian Butterflies website confirmed my identification (from what he could see in the photos).

The Grass Dart taking a rest on a nearby Pelargonium leaf, 28 November 2014.
The Grass Dart taking a rest on a nearby Pelargonium leaf, 28 November 2014.

But it’s not just butterflies and moths that pollinate flowers in the garden. While I didn’t have any luck with capturing a photo of the Blue-banded Bee I did spot at least two others. One very small one looked like a Stingless bee, but I’m unclear whether they are found in the ACT. The other I think is a species of Leafcutter bee.

My clearest shot of what I think may be a Leafcutter Bee, 28 November 2014.
My clearest shot of what I think may be a Leafcutter Bee, 28 November 2014.

Talk about carrying a load of pollen.

A species of Leafcutter Bee?
A species of Leafcutter Bee? Look at the pollen on its legs.

I will keep trying to photograph a Blue-banded bee in my garden and who knows what else I will spot! If you are interested in identifying Australian Bees I suggest you check out the Aussie Bee website.