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Saturday, 28 July 2018

Food chain

A couple of years ago some Borage self-seeded into a bed just outside the net-house.  It is a bit of a thug but the bees love it so I let it stay.



This year the plants started germinating in Spring and I meant to move them around the garden but it never happened.  So, shoulders were shrugged and I let the plants do what they wanted.  Walking next to the metre high plants has been like getting very close to a calm and gentle beehive and the area is always alive with insects.





Unfortunately, yesterdy I noticed some extra insects who were not quite as welcome. Aphis fabae, more commonly known as blackfly, and far far too close to my runner beans to be tolerated.  Sorry, but I'm not sharing that part of the food chain if I can help it.





It was a shame to cut down the borage whilst there were still a few flowers open, but it is 90% over.  I laid the rubbish on our new big bed behind the house, the logic being (a) near the bird feeders so perhaps the blackfly will get eaten (b)  continues to give the bees access to the flowers  (c) I am not going to plant anything here until next Spring so the borage can compost in situ.

I thought some close-up pictures of the little beasties would be fun, but it was a brilliant surprise upon looking at the photos to find that the food chain is already in action, I think there are ladybird larvae already hard at work munching their way through the blackfly.



It's not just bees who feed from the borage flowers, hover fly and wasps do too.



Perhaps some of them come from a little further down the garden . . . this is the trellis which separates the Cottage Garden from the big log pile and the greenhouse area.



If you know where to look, we have 'company', the largest nest we have ever found above ground.



Opening the door to this shed VERY CAREFULLY,   Management decided that there is nothing in it which he needs in a hurry, so we've left this beautiful wasp nest alone.  It is unlikely the nest will survive (apparently the poor things die of starvation over winter, not cold, isn't that sad?) and he will then be able to access the rarely used bike parts which are stored here.







12 comments:

  1. Not being a gardener I didn't blog about my poor cherry tree this year. Google is wonderful and I discovered that my tree which we planted over twenty years ago has been attacked by cherry tree black fly. I used to leave most of the cherries for the birds to enjoy anyway but really upset at the tree being attacked.

    Oh dear be careful around the wasps nest, we're sure our neighbour has one in their loft space as we've seen wasps congregating and disappearing through a gap in the bricks under the eaves.

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    1. Eileen, the easiest (and least toxic) way to get rid of blackfly like that is to blast them off with a jet from the hose. You might not get 100% but you can make a huge difference if you do it as soon as you see them.

      Sad if your neighbour does have a nest if the loft, they can become extremely large is such protected environments and the response is always to kill them off.

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  2. The borage flowers are beautiful, but they are just too huge for our small garden. This is a great post, often we forget the bonus work our local wildlife does for us, I am so glad we now embrace wildlife allowing them to keep the balance right in our gardens.
    I hope you are having the same steady rain we are having today, no-stop since 5am, just what we needed.

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    1. You're right Marlene, borage can grow very tall on rich soil. Do you have a dry patch of poor soil somewhere where they would put on less foliage? I think Monty was saying the same last week - thank goodness we now recognise that not all insects are bad guys.

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  3. The first three photos are lovely but the next three are just 'yuck' - those flies look horrible! Many years ago I had a wasp nest in the outside rabbit hutch - fortunately not occupied at the time though close to the back door - so I got some stuff and liberally sprayed all the inside of it. As much as I'm an animal lover there are some things which just shouldn't be here!

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    1. We've had to move small nests which are too close to doors, sadly they don't usually survive.

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  4. I love borage. One of my favourites. I noticed a cheeky one has blossomed under cover of our squash plants this year. Wasps can sleep through winter- we found two upside down in a bird box this spring.

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    1. Cheers CT, I'm glad wasps can survive, unfortunately we will need to get access to this shed, so we'll keep a close eye on it.

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  5. Wasps do survive the winter, they hibernate anywhere indoors that is warm. I found out the painful way when putting on a coat one spring that hadn't been worn since autumn and got stung on my arm by a wasp in the sleeve.

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    1. Ouch Sue, that is not pleasant. I had a similar thing with a bee on the inside of a summer jacket.

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  6. I enjoyed hearing about the goodies & badies. Are the wasps European ones or some other? The European ones cause havoc over here after they were "somehow" introduced. Take care.

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    1. I think they are our basic "common wasp" Susan, but now you've asked I shall try and get a closer look (without being stung or upsetting them). Some sensible information here:
      https://www.keele.ac.uk/arboretum/articles/wasps/

      and this site has some excellent photos:
      https://www.naturespot.org.uk/taxonomy/term/19396?page=1

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