I got to spend the afternoon wandering around the Adur valley recently. The River Adur runs through West Sussex where it reaches the sea at Shoreham. There are wonderful views of the South Downs, especially from the area I was wandering around.
This landscape fascinates me because it was once a much wider and wilder estuary. The town of Steyning had its own port, but the river’s margins and the marsh has become farmland. Looking at the maps you can see Rye Farm, with Rye potentially from the West Saxon word for ‘island’, just as it once would have been when surrounded by water or wetlands.
It was the end of a very rainy period and the insect life was out in force. There were hundreds of bumblebees on tufted vetch in the damp margins and probably thousands of newly emerged grasshoppers.
I wasn’t alone on this walk and so couldn’t linger too long. But along one of the lanes I found some umbellifers. On one flowerhead there was the unmistakable green and red of a ruby-tailed wasp!
They are stunning insects – with metallic blue-green thorax and a ruby-red abdomen.
The wasp was feeding on hogweed, a popular plant with pollinators.
This is a better view of the ruby abdomen.
There were just so many insects out and about, it was a joy but also a massive distraction. Buttercups are often the favoured haunt of sawflies – the earliest relative of wasps. This is a species in a group of rather elongated sawflies.
Tufted vetch was growing in the flowery margins where the bumblebees were in great number. There were also large numbers of small tortoiseshell butterflies.
On a fence near the river a blue damselfly was eating some kind of bug. It was so focused on chewing its prey that I could get very close indeed.
The number of ladybird larvae was also great, with many either on the hunt for aphids or setting themselves up for their metamorphosis.
Elsewhere on hogweed I found these carpet beetles. They are very, very small and can’t seem to tear themselves away from the nectar.
Thanks for reading.
Praying for Everton’s survival among the wildflowers ⚽
On Sunday 28th May I forced myself, though tired, to go for a walk in the Arun valley in the South Downs. The aim was to try and distract myself from Everton’s final day game against Bournemouth, where my team could be relegated from the top division of English football for the first time in…
Dartmoor: finding Grimspound in the mist 🛖
It was a misty morning high on Dartmoor. We began walking from Bennett’s Cross, passing Birch Tor and heading through wintry heather moorland.
A spring epistrophe? 🐝
Another week of some sun, some showers, and some temperatures that got close to freezing. That sentence may turn out to be a spring epistrophe, but more of that later. In Scotland it reached as low as -5C. April 2023 has been a mishmash of seasons. Here’s what I encountered in my garden on 22nd…
6 thoughts on “Macro 📷: a ruby-tailed wasp in the Adur valley”
I love ruby-tailed wasps, what great photos! Hogweed is such a great pollinator plant, lots of thick-legged beetles and a few longhorns in my ‘patch’ this weekend…
Thank you. Yes hogweed is what I look for at this time of year. I saw lots of those beetles at the weekend, no longhorns though. Robberflies out in force however
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a ruby-tailed wasp, at least not knowingly.
They’re beautiful. Several different species as well
We are great fans of wasps/
That’s good to hear!