The MGS Forum

Gardening in mediterranean climates => Wildlife in the garden (birds, butterflies, and how to attract them) => Topic started by: David Dickinson on September 23, 2017, 04:45:37 PM

Title: Welcome or not?
Post by: David Dickinson on September 23, 2017, 04:45:37 PM
This bee has set up his territory in my garden and is extremely effective at driving away all other insects from his chosen plants. I say "his" because I have read that male Carpenter bees have this habit. Does anybody recognise this species?

Patrolling a stretch of around 10m, buzzing back and forth non-stop, he dive-bombs any other insect which tries to feed on the plants in his range, Even insects more than triple his size like the black Carpenter bee. Other bees, butterflies, wasps etc. too. Preferred tactic is to scoot back and forth, hover about a foot away from anything he spots and then dive in knocking the other off the flower. The insect is then chased away. He has a very loud buzz, disproportionate to his size. I wonder if I would have more butterflies visiting if he weren't around?

I spent some time this morning filming him in action but don't think I can attach videos to postings. Or can I?
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: Fleur Pavlidis on September 23, 2017, 10:46:53 PM
There's no straight forward way to post a video. Ive found instructions for how to add a YouTube video so I'll try it out when I get back to Greece and my PC.
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: Alisdair on September 24, 2017, 07:51:42 AM
A couple of years ago I did put a short video on YouTube (about a stand at the Chelsea show) and then on this forum posted the link to it, so that people could click through to it.
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: JTh on September 24, 2017, 08:42:23 AM
Are you sure it`s  not an ordinary honey bee?  It certainly does not look like any carpenter bee I have seen. If it's a single specimen with behavioural problems, I wouldn'y worry, they don't live that long; working bees have a life span of five to six weeks during the  active season
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: David Dickinson on September 25, 2017, 02:22:03 AM
Hi JTH,

I can see why you might think it is an ordinary honey bee from the last picture I posted. Here are 2 photos that I took today while the bee was taking a well earned rest and having a feed. If it is a honey bee that is a little deranged, that would be good, as once it dies the other insects will be able to come back.
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: John J on February 18, 2018, 01:54:08 PM
Perhaps one for the entomologists. Beneficial or not? Do I leave it or squash it?
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: Umbrian on February 19, 2018, 09:04:49 AM
Interesting John - can't wait to see what it is ....and hope you don't have to squash it!
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: JTh on February 19, 2018, 03:35:00 PM
I wonder if it is a caterpillar of a cabbage butterfly? They don't spin a cocoon, but some silky 'threads' to attach themselves to the leaves, I think I can see a few strands.
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: John J on February 20, 2018, 06:16:14 AM
I think you are right, Jorun, thanks. It is attached by threads on both sides. OK, it can stay.
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: Alisdair on February 20, 2018, 10:19:15 AM
What is it actually attached to, John?
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: John J on February 20, 2018, 03:28:48 PM
It's tucked into an Aloe arborescens, Alisdair.
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: Alisdair on February 21, 2018, 08:50:34 AM
Good protection for it
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: John J on March 24, 2018, 08:04:33 PM
A couple of months ago I and a friend, Marianne Merki, had a short discussion about praying mantis after finding one on a plant in a nursery we were visiting. Today she sent me some photos of a cocoon she had found on one of her own plants and had kept an eye on. They show several youngsters emerging and taking their first steps into the unknown.
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: John J on April 10, 2018, 06:47:47 AM
When the hunter becomes the hunted. I spotted this lizard with a mantis in its mouth but by the time I had dashed indoors to get my camera it had released it for some reason. The mantis then headed for a bunch of discarded dry flowers waiting to be disposed of, I assume to attempt to hide, while the lizard remained frozen, possibly due to my presence.
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: JTh on April 14, 2018, 06:52:37 PM
This is a visitor which is definitely welcome. It always amazes me how quickly the tortoises are moving, I just managed to get a quick snap before it disappeared under a large oregano outside the kitchen door, it's probably still there. I believe it is a Testudo graeca, it was fairly lage but in good shape.

(https://farm1.staticflickr.com/814/26583548037_9e5c009b5c_z.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/Gv6CF8)
P4149387-Edit.jpg Visiting tortoise (https://flic.kr/p/Gv6CF8) by Jorun Tharaldsen (https://www.flickr.com/photos/46063510@N03/), on Flickr
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: Charithea on April 19, 2018, 03:48:49 PM
A photo of a welcome visitor. The photo was taken by our grandson in our garden. He was playing Hide and Seek with his sister but could not resist to show us the chameleon so he gave away his hiding place.
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: John J on May 03, 2018, 06:00:36 AM
Spotted on an evening primrose flower outside our kitchen this morning. Welcome or not?
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: John J on May 06, 2018, 06:49:38 AM
Almost missed this one as it blended in quite well.
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: John J on June 29, 2018, 07:49:34 AM
Mike, how has your butterfly count been this year? We haven't seen many at all and not a single swallowtail so far, certainly no caterpillars.
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: David Dickinson on June 29, 2018, 10:51:15 AM
Butterfly numbers and variety are low in Rome too this year. Although I have had Swallowtails and Scarce Swallowtails.

Seeing your post has prompted me to ask a question that I have wanted to ask for a while. Is it only my Buddlejas that are not attractive to insects are is this a common occurrence in Mediterranean gardens. Only occasionally do insects settle on mine. When they do, they seem happy and gorge themselves. But I'm used to seeing bushes covered in insects in the UK.  In my garden there are one or two insects at most while the Salvias and Verbenas nearby are literally buzzing with activity.
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: Charithea on July 01, 2018, 10:28:22 AM
Regarding Buddlejas and Butterflies David, I have kept a watch on our two Buddlejas and have not seen any butterflies visiting them this year.  In fact I have not yet seen any butterflies on our Crithmum maritimum the parsley or the Florence fennel.  The past few years I have sown parsley and fennel specifically to cope with the demands of the Swallowtail caterpillars that used to decimate the Crithmum. I had noticed the number of  caterpillars on the parsley and fennel increase but this year so far nothing.  John and I decided to remove the excess of the parsley to make space for the Peruvian spinach.
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: John J on July 06, 2018, 07:05:04 AM
After having posted recently about not seeing any caterpillars I came across these 2 chaps yesterday munching away on our Crithmum. Nowhere near as many as we normally get but at least it's something.
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: Umbrian on July 07, 2018, 05:42:25 AM
Working in a friend's garden the other day I knocked one of these beautiful caterpillars from a Fennel plant - one of their favourite feeding grounds.  I carefully replaced it and later I saw my first Swallowtail of the year and felt well rewarded!
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: John J on July 29, 2018, 08:15:05 AM
While taking photos of the flower on our Crassula perfoliata today this swallowtail landed on the Crithmum growing next to it so I had to get a couple of quick shots before it flew on.
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: Umbrian on July 29, 2018, 12:06:45 PM
Love the last 'photo John - showing real 'attitude'!
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: JTh on August 23, 2018, 11:09:38 PM
Hard to say who's the friend here. The wasp was seen flying with a larva much bigger than itself, they conveniently landed on an olive branch so that I could get a quick shot with my phone. The  larva seemed to be paralyzed by the wasp.
(https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1885/42417849740_5f2c0978a6_c.jpg) (https://flic.kr/p/27CjyUU)
IMG_20180806_093540.jpg (https://flic.kr/p/27CjyUU) by Jorun Tharaldsen (https://www.flickr.com/photos/46063510@N03/), on Flickr
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: Umbrian on August 24, 2018, 07:27:55 AM
Amazing photo Jorun - best reason for having the phone close at hand at all times.....
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: Alisdair on August 24, 2018, 07:39:06 AM
Wonderful!
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: John J on September 10, 2018, 06:30:18 AM
On going out early this morning to take advantage of the cooler air before the heat of the day builds up I bumped into, almost literally, this character sitting in the middle of its perfect web. I assume it was waiting for breakfast to arrive.
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: John J on September 22, 2018, 04:54:38 PM
Found this poor chap this evening as I was doing a bit of watering. I believe it's a Black Whip Snake (Dolichophis jugularis) that can grow to 3m in length. They don't take on the black colour until they are around 5/6 years old. They are not poisonous and are therefore welcome visitors as they take rodents, some insects, and even other snakes. Many years ago, before the land around us was built upon as much as it is today, we used to get very large blacks but I haven't seen a big one for a long time now. The secateurs are for comparison.
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: John J on January 05, 2019, 02:05:19 PM
Just spotted this on the wall outside our front door. Don't recall having seen one like it before. Anyone put a name to it?
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: John J on March 09, 2019, 02:04:20 PM
Spring is on the way, the dinosaurs are on the move.
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: David Dickinson on April 20, 2019, 10:49:19 AM
Ever had the feeling you are being watched and on looking up discover that your instincts are right?
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: John J on September 06, 2019, 05:09:52 PM
In April 2018 I posted a photo of a lizard who had caught a praying mantis. On that occasion the insect escaped but I doubt if the one below will be so lucky.
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: John J on September 07, 2019, 06:16:18 AM
As my wife was taking her car out of the garage this morning she called me to see this newly 'hatched' Swallowtail.
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: Hilary on October 31, 2019, 06:52:55 AM
Felis catus and Plumbago auriculata

Cat and Plumbago

An alert cat in the garden of a friend in September 2018

There is hardly a journal without a mention of a cat; In fact I think there is even an article all about cats, but where?
Read
 GARDENING IN THE SHADE OF THE PYRAMID by Duncan Thomas in
THE MEDITERRANEAN GARDEN number  49, July 2007.
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: John J on November 12, 2019, 10:14:55 AM
Not something you particularly want to walk into first thing in the morning. Possible excuse for the rather blurred image.  :-\
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: John J on November 16, 2019, 10:12:45 AM
This little chap has appeared over the last few weeks, gives his position away by calling very loudly for such a small guy.
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: Alisdair on November 16, 2019, 03:13:40 PM
What a little sweetie!
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: David Dickinson on December 09, 2019, 12:03:30 AM
The "welcome or not" here really refers to the plant rather than the robin which was eagerly awaiting any little "snack" that crawled/ran/flew its way. I grew Helianthus tuberosus this year thinking I would get masses of cheerful yellow flowers. Not one. So I decided to dig it out and put a Salvia desoleana  in its place. I did get lots of Topinambur though - even though I find them pretty tasteless, to be honest. The robin was much more interesting :-)
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: David Dickinson on February 18, 2020, 11:06:31 AM
This post is definitely a welcome, albeit to two incompatible creatures. I have long had bird nesting boxes stored away in a cupboard, frightened to use them as we have a few cats around. Then I hit on the idea of attaching one to an old metal lamp stand that I also had stashed away for later use. As always, though, things are not as easy as they seem. Now I can't find a position in my small garden which is far enough away from a tree, bush, wall or roof to be safely out of the reach of cats :-(
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: Charithea on February 18, 2020, 12:50:45 PM
David, both the tubers and the robin would have been welcomed in our garden.  My uncle used to grow Helianthus  for cooking. I loved visiting him in the nearby village to get a bucketful of the tubers. We used to wash them, hit them with a small stone to crack them, rinse them and fry them in a big pot with some olive oil.  When they were almost soft we used to add a cup of dry wine, crushed coriander seeds and a bit of salt. The pot would be covered and the tubers  cooked a bit more on gentle heat until the wine was absorbed/evaporated . Very tasty.  I have tried growing them but not much success . I can only buy them around the 18th October, when the village festival is on and villagers come down with their 'goods'.
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: JTh on February 18, 2020, 01:38:57 PM
David, maybe we could swap Heliathhus tubers? Mine are not  red, but yellowish. I grow them here in my garden in Norway, where they are doing very well, maybe more so than we really need.

I never thought about trying them in Greece, maybe I should? I never watered them here; actually, the only work I do with these is to dig them out when they spread too much, and harvest them, either in the autumn or in spring. This year I could probably harvest them now  in February as well, since we have had no winter yet, no snow and hardly any frost. If the climate change continues in this direction, Norway will soon have a Mediterranean climate as well.
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: David Dickinson on February 19, 2020, 12:15:52 AM
I'd be happy to send you both what is left of the tubers. My neighbours took some and those which are left are dried up, But I imagine that they would rehydrate easily like other tubers do. I have Charithea's address so will pop some in the post asap.  If, Jth, you send me an address  at daviddickinson101@gmail.com I will do likewise. I really wouldn't want to swap as I don't intend to grow them again. Thanks for the offer though :-)
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: Fermi on February 19, 2020, 03:16:20 AM
... I grew Helianthus tuberosus this year thinking I would get masses of cheerful yellow flowers...
In Australia they are called Jerusalem artichokes, I think in reference to the Italian name Girasol.
My partner's family have always called them fartichokes for some reason  ::)
cheers
fermi
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: Hilary on February 21, 2020, 07:08:49 AM
Wasp on Euphorbia milii

This photo opportunity was too good to miss. The wasp sat on the flower and waited until I found the camera, turned it on, found the close up setting and then took its photo. I then blew gently on the wasp as it was not moving and it turned to give me a full face pose.

We have had this Euphorbia milii plant since 1967 when I acquired a cutting and stuck it in a plastic milk bottle. It has moved house four times and seems to like the corner it is sitting in now.

Yes, Euphorbia milii gets a mention in several issues if THE MEDITERRANEAN GARDEN

AN ODE TO THE JOY OF A GARDEN by Patricia Manessi-Green looks interesting. Although I have read and re read many of the articles in the journal I do like reading them again

THE MEDITERRANEAN GARDEN number 97, July 2019
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: Umbrian on February 21, 2020, 08:32:15 AM
Lovely captures Hilary.
I have been struggling with posting photos when my app suddenly started to misunction but have installed a new one and will experiment with it when time allows and hope to be back in full action soon. Accompanying photos make posts so much more interesting
I think and are essential for many.
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: David Dickinson on February 21, 2020, 10:20:02 AM
Yes, great photos. I love taking photos of the insects in the garden, even little everyday insects. Here is a Cleopatra butterfly. They never seem to settle with their wings open but I managed to photograph the orange on the forewings by  getting a photo with the sun shining through them.


As for posting photos, here is how I reduce them to the correct size. If you have "paint":

1 Get your pic stored on your computer
2 Right click on the pic with your mouse
3 from the menu that opens up select "open with"
4 select "paint"
5 go through the options that are available at the top of the screen until you find "resize"
6 left click with the mouse on "resize". A box will open up.
7 Make sure that the "percentage" option is ticked at the top of the box. Then go to the box marked "horizontal".  I usually change this from 100 down to 30. If the percentage option has been selcted the "vertical" box will automatically change to 30 as well.
8 Go to the top of the screen and left click with the mouse on "File"
9 select "Save as". (f you select "save" you will replace your original pic with the new reduced version). Decide a name for the new version of the pic and save it where you can find it again.
10 Close your original pic and then open the new version.
11 Right click with the mouse and from the menu that opens up select"properties".
12 Left click on "properties" and you will see "size" details. If the size is under the 250 kb limit then you are okay to go ahead with attaching the pic. If it is slightly above, repeat the process above except at point 7 reduce from 100 to 90 and then recheck the "size" in "properties"
Seems more complicated than it is. If you are okay with setting up files to save your pics you could do as I have done and set up a file called "pics for MGS". At point 9 above I save my reduced pics there until I have posted them and then I delete them from the file. Easy to find them at the point where you want to attach them to your posting that way.
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: Umbrian on February 22, 2020, 08:06:43 AM
Wow David what a lot of information and so painstakingly written out. One way or another I shall have  no excuses now for not posting photographs and your post is another fine example of the value of the Forum. Just need a proper 'winter day' now that confines me indoors with time to experiment :)
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: John J on March 04, 2020, 09:53:08 AM
The Praying mantis is a welcome visitor to the garden but I'm not sure that the 2 characters in the other photo would consider my presence to be too welcome. :-[
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: John J on March 06, 2020, 10:19:28 AM
I was very surprised to find this little chap in our garden this morning. In normal circumstances he/she would have been very welcome except that it appeared to be in some distress. I gathered it up and took it around the corner to our local vet who agreed that it looked to be very old and possibly sick. I left it with him to see what happened but not with any degree of hope for the poor little fella.
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: David Dickinson on March 09, 2020, 11:34:36 AM
These wasps, presumably battling queens, are welcome as predators - but only if they don't nest right next to the main entrance to the garden. Which is exactly what they did last year! And they were squabbling in exactly the same point this year.

Just before opening up the Forum today I was reading the news and saw a link to this short video.
https://www.bbc.co.uk/ideas/videos/what-if-all-the-wasps-disappeared/p085ltfr
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: David Dickinson on March 22, 2020, 11:37:34 PM
My latest, overly friendly, visitor is not welcome at all. Has come along with my new neighbours. Scares off all the birds, already killed the robin, brings me rats and mice from the fields around and has taken to sprawling out in all the places I want to put out delicate seedlings! Plastic netting already hammered into the ground where she decided to make her toilet. Right on top of a Salvia spathacea  - only 2 stalks remaining now. Grrrrr!!!!!! Wherever she tries to make her bed, the following day she finds a lot of canes inserted into the soil to discourage her. I hope she will get the message and move on  >:(
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: Caroline on March 23, 2020, 04:41:30 AM
Do you have a spray bottle you could fill with water and use as a water pistol on her?
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: Charithea on March 23, 2020, 08:26:55 PM
Of dear David. Cats are a big pain and I am saying this being an owner of 5.   I always put sticks around my seedlings to discourage  the cats from sleeping on them but they do flatten down some of them. However, they don't  catch birds but they catch large lizards and carry them around in their mouth.
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: John J on April 04, 2020, 09:47:53 AM
Every year we get lots of nasturtiums popping up all over the place. They obviously provide a good food source for caterpillars and it means we have less to clear up once they've gone over.
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: John J on April 12, 2020, 05:34:06 AM
This one is most certainly welcome, apart from being a great surprise. I spotted it yesterday in our Brunfelsia bush as I was admiring the flowers that are beginning to open. The photo was as close as I dared to get using the tele-photo on my camera.
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: Umbrian on April 12, 2020, 07:29:24 AM
After the unfortunate demise of a young fledging that came to grief after falling to the ground in an unfortunate spot presumably during its first attempt at life beyond the nest, the parent birds have been busy building a new nest. This time they have chosen a Trachelospermum on a wall in my back garden and are creating quite a hole in the thick twining foliage as they dive in with beaks full of material. I love watching their progress and they become quite tame when coming for the food I put out especially once feeding young, after however they become more distant and cautious again. So interesting observing such things as I go about my jons in the garden. The one thing that annoys me however is the way they peck at the soil in pots and scatter the top dressing of gravel that I use to conserve moisture. They obviously appreciate the moisture too. This is particularly annoying when they investigate my seed trays and pots and this year I have had to resort to covering them with fleece after finding some young Ipomea seedlings completely uprooted.
Title: Re: Welcome or not? Spiders eating bees.
Post by: David Dickinson on May 20, 2020, 01:37:02 AM
I would have thought that bees would have been able to intimidate the much smaller crab  spiders. It appears not.  Imagine popping your head into trumpet shape flower only to find a pair (or more!) of eyes weighing up the correct moment to strike :o!
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: John J on June 09, 2020, 05:52:45 PM
We get chameleons in the garden from time to time and they are always welcome when we do. This one almost got a shower as I only saw it at the last minute while I was watering one area. I doubt it would have been appreciated as it appeared to be in the process of shedding its old skin at the time.
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: David Dickinson on June 13, 2020, 04:05:30 PM
I wish I could shed my old skin just as easily as your chameleon!

On another note, as every good gardener knows, the best place to dry out slightly damp seeds is on kitchen roll spread out on the kitchen table. Flat mate in lock down in Ireland so nobody around to put a spanner in the works. Or so I thought. I woke up the following morning to find our six-legged friends were just carrying away the last of my Salvia farinacea seeds!
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: Charithea on June 15, 2020, 01:26:41 PM
Don't dispear David. They will grow somewhere in your garden in the spring. I dry my seeds by putting them in Big paper bags and leave them outside because if I spread them  on the table my 5 cats will carry them around the house and garden on their fur. On the other hand David my Salvia farinacea did so badly and  the seeds were all lost. The ready bought plants are never very successful in our garden and neither are growing them from seeds.
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: Charithea on June 24, 2020, 03:02:04 PM
A most welcome visitor to our garden is this baby hedgehog sitting in John's gloved hand. Our only female cat was watching it moving among the Hemerocallis lillies and John moved it to a safer place. The other photo is of two beautiful kittens drinking water while the grey one was eating out of our cats' dish. I adore kittens but these perishes, which arrived uninvited, have flattened our Tulbaghia violaceae and terrorized our cats. The kittens arrived with the new owner of the old house adjacent to the western side of our garden. I was told by the owner that the kittens were motherless but she was planning to keep them which made me very happy. Alas the owner went to town and left the kittens so we ended up looking after them for 2 weeks as they preferred our hospitable garden and the wires in our kitchen.  I sadly was forced to ask her to take them home with her and bring them back when she finally repaired the house and took up residence here.
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: David Dickinson on July 17, 2020, 10:56:23 AM
This thread started with a posting about what I presumed was a male carpenter bee of some kind. It was dive-bombing any other insect that visited flowers in its territory. Another has taken up territory in the garden this year. He attacked a wasp and a battle ensued. The wasp appeared to sting the bee many time as the 2 of them span round and round attached to a petal by one leg of the bee. Evidently the exoskeleton of the bee was strong enough for the sting not to penetrate , The bee flew off seemingly unscathed.
Title: Re: Welcome or not?
Post by: Umbrian on July 18, 2020, 08:25:20 AM
Interesting and well observed - so much  goes on in our gardens apart from our efforts- some of it beneficial and some less so. I am beginning to get very frustrated with the ever increasing amount of Blackbirds that consider my garden home. Lots of young ones about now and they are causing havoc pecking in my pots  despite a generous layer of gravel on the top and even attcking my cuttings box.  Much as I have enjoyed watching their progress I am beginning to wish the parents would send them off to find their own territories😊