Specieswatch: violet carpenter bee – an exotic, heavyweight arrival to UK

The Guardian reports if you see a violet carpenter bee, xylocopa violacea, in Britain, it seems too exotic for our shores, and too big. It is up to 3cm long, the size of our largest bumble bee, and it looks even larger when flying with an impressive buzz.

In late August, the adults emerge from a dead tree trunk or other old wood where they have spent the larval stage. After mating in late April or May, female bees bore holes in rotten wood and lay eggs in separate chambers, each one sealed in with a store of pollen so the emerging larvae can have a good start in life.

Climate change has brought this southern European species to our shores.

Violet carpenter bee photo by Charlie Jackson under creative commons.

England’s tree of the year shortlist – in pictures

The Times shares a photo essay of some of the country’s most beautifiul and magnificent trees, with fascinating stories accompanying them. A sycamore decorated with the shoes of jubilant students, an oak bound in chains and a plane facing the chop, are just three of ten contenders for this year’s title in the annual Woodland Trust competition. 

The Crouch Oak in Addlestone, Surrey is amongst them. Chosen, its nominator says “because it’s simply old and Queen Elizabeth I is said to have picnicked under it”. In the early 19th century the tree was fenced off by the landowner to stop local young women stripping its bark to make love potions. [Sorry we can’t find a non-copyrighted photo to show you this glorious tree here. If you have a photo of this tree please do share it with us and we will add it here, credited to you.)

Gardeners search for ooze control after surge in slugs

The Times reports the Royal Horticultural Society has warned that the slug population will peak this month. The problem is so acute that Europe’s only supplier of worms bred to defeat slugs has reported a double-digit percentage growth in sales. BASF, which breeds nematodes in Littlehampton, West Sussex, has increased production of the anti-slug bioweapon, which rots the pest from the inside. 

Photo by www.bayercropscience.co.uk under creative commons.

Proposal to reintroduce lynx to Scotland meets resistance from farmers

iNEWS reports a group hoping to reintroduce the lynx to Scotland has singled out a forest near Loch Lomond as the perfect spot for the animals. While the Lynx UK Trust is launching a public consultation on plans to release them in Queen Elizabeth Forest Park near Aberfoyle, farmers leaders have deemed the proposal “wholly unacceptable”. 

Photo by Charlie Jackson under creative commons.

Jellyfish bloom reports soar from Cornwall to the Outer Hebrides

The Guardian reports busy beaches and warm, calm seas fuel sightings of lion’s manes, compasses and moons. From a “mile-long” swarm in Devon to warnings to swimmers in the Outer Hebrides, it seems jellyfish are difficult to ignore this summer.

High temperatures, calm and warm seas and packed beaches have resulted in large numbers of reports of jellyfish blooms around the UK coast, and combined with a glut of the plankton on which they feed, some are reaching record sizes, experts said. At the fishing town of Brixham, Devon, one kayaker and photographer witnessed what he described as a mile-long mass of compass jellyfish. They have also been spotted in large numbers along the Cornish coast. 

Here be dragonflies, thriving in Britain as never before

The Observer reports climate change has encouraged a wave of insect migrants from across the Channel. Should we celebrate or fear for the future? As the sun finally emerges from behind a cloud, I catch sight of a pair of dragonflies, yoked together in a mating position to rival the Kama Sutra. Yet this copulating couple, performing in a watery ditch on Canvey Island in Essex, are no ordinary members of their family. They are southern migrant hawkers: a species virtually unknown in the UK until a decade or so ago. 

Photo by Bill Stanworth of golden-ringed dragonfly

Lockdown sees ‘most successful breeding year in decades’ for marsh harriers at Cambridge nature reserve

The Independent reports tangers see four nests of chicks successfully fledge. At least a dozen marsh harrier chicks have successfully fledged at a nature reserve in the “most successful breeding year in decades” for the species there. It is thought that lockdown helped the birds at the National Trust’s Wicken Fen Nature Reserve in Cambridgeshire. 

Beavers should be designated native species, charity says, ahead of killing season

The Daily Telegraph, and The Times report beavers should be given legal status as a native species, the Government has been urged ahead of the start of the Scottish killing season. The Beaver Trust, a charity, has, in partnership with a range of other groups, drawn up a series of proposals on the future of the “sometimes troublesome” dam-building creatures which were almost hunted to extinction. 

Photo by Pat Gaines under Creative Commons.