Andrena trimmerana- Fulborn Fen

Possibly a county first

Description and notes
This mining bee has both a spring and a summer brood. These differ morphologically, especially in the male (for example, first brood specimens have a strong, conspicuous genal spine which is lacking in summer brood individuals of this sex). In addition, second brood specimens are often more extensively marked with red on the basal tergites and sternites than their spring counterparts. It is possible that these broods are actually distinct species and research, involving the cytogenetics of each brood, is still ongoing. Indeed, the first brood was formerly considered to be a separate species, Andrena spinigera

Status (in Britain only)
This species is not regarded as being scarce or threatened.
Habitat
Generally distributed, having been recorded from coastal landslips and cliffs and, inland, from heaths, open woodland, chalk grassland, fens, commons and gardens.
Flight period
Bivoltine; mid March to the end of April, and again from July to late September.
Nesting biology
The species apparently nests singly, not in aggregations (Kocourek, 1966; Dylewska, 1987). In England, nests have been found in banks, slopes and bare vertical soil (e.g. Beavis, 2007). Communal nesting, as occurs in its close relatives, Andrena carantonica Pérez and A. bucephala Stephens, has not been confirmed for A. trimmerana.
Flowers visited
It has been recorded from a buttercup, willows, bramble, rhododendron, blackthorn, gorse, alexanders and dandelion.
Parasites
Nomada marshamella (Kirby) has been reported as a cleptoparasite of A. trimmerana (Perkins, 1919). Occasionally specimens are found which are stylopised, apparently by Stylops aterrimus Newport (Kinzelbach, 19

Harpactus tumidus- Fulbourn Fen

Harpactus tumidus

Description and notes
Previously classified in the genera Alysson and Dienoplus. A small red and black wasp, typically with a white scutellum and three white spots on the abdomen rendering it distinctive. Usually encountered in dry sandy locations where it is a frog-hopper predator.

Distribution
Recorded widely but sparingly across England and Wales, and extending as far north as Grantown, Elgin in Scotland. Also the Channel Islands (Jersey and Guernsey) and a few sites in Ireland (Waterford, Wexford and Wicklow). A southern bias is exhibited and most records are concentrated within coastal districts or heathy districts inland. Local in southern England, becoming very scarce in the northern part of its range, though with a cluster of recent records in Yorkshire through the efforts of M E Archer. It is rarely common anywhere, though it is easily overlooked. Overseas, it is widely reported from north and central Europe; also southern Siberia and Japan (Lomholdt, 1975-76).
Status (in Britain only)
This species is not regarded as being scarce or threatened.
Habitat
Recorded from heathland, coastal dunes, coastal landslips, open areas in woodland, sandpits, embankments and cuttings. Within these locations, it is usually observed running rapidly over the ground or low vegetation in sparsely vegetated or short-cropped areas fully exposed to the sun. Females are likely to require taller herbage nearby for hunting.
Flight period
Univoltine; exceptionally from late May, but normally from mid-June to mid-September. Nesting biology and prey collected Nests are excavated in dry sandy soil and consist of several cells at the end of a short tunnel. Individual cells are stocked with 5 or 6 frog-hoppers, such as Philaenus and Aphrodes species; both adults and nymphs being used. The female closes the nest entrance with sand between hunting trips. (Hamm & Richards, 1930; Lomholdt, 1975-76).
Flowers visited
Umbellifers such as wild carrot and wild parsnip.
Parasites
The nyssonine wasp Nysson dimidiatus and chrysidid wasp Hedychridium roseum. Additional Nysson species attack H. tumidus abroad

Argogorytes mystaceus – Fulbourn Fen

A first for me

Distribution
Widespread in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland (Richards 1980). Clearly less frequently found in northern parts of northern England, and Scotland. Abroad, the species is found throughout much of the Palaearctic region, eastwards to the Pacific Ocean (Lomholdt, 1975-76).
Status (in Britain only)
This species is not regarded as being scarce or threatened.
Habitat
These wasps occur in sunny places, not necessarily sandy, and particularly in deciduous woodland and edges. Very much a species of sunny glades with tall, rank vegetation (M Edwards, pers. comm.).
Flight period
Univoltine; late April to June, exceptionally to September (Richards, 1980).
Prey collected
The species preys on frog-hopper nymphs (Homoptera: Cercopidae), especially those of Philaenus spumarius. The Argogorytes female is reported to land on the plant stem, walk to the spittle and then plunge her legs and sting into it (Adlerz, cited by Evans, 1966).
Nesting biology
The nest is dug in soil in dry banks in moist woodland glades (M Edwards, pers. comm.). It consists of a main burrow reaching a length of 10 cm vertically into the ground and then continuing in a fairly horizontal plane where there are several cells (Lomholdt, 1975-76). After the initial cell is constructed, prey is brought to the nest, carried in flight between the middle legs. The egg is laid on the outside of one of the hind coxae of the first prey in the cell (unusual in the Gorytini, where it is usually laid on the last). The burrow is left open whilst provisioning takes place. From 19-27 bug nymphs may be provisioned per cell (according to Adlerz) and then the next cell is constructed.
Flowers visited
Females have been sighted visiting wood spurge and honeydew on sweet chestnut leaves (pers. obs.). They are also known to visit umbellifer flowers. Males are important polllinators of the fly orchid (Ophrys insectifera). The male seeks out the flower mainly by its scent, which closely resembles the female sex attractant pheromone, and attempts to copulate with it. During this process the male receives one, or both, pollinia, which may then be transferred to the stigma of another flower (Kullenberg, 1961; Evans & Eberhard, 1970).

Banded General – Stratiomys potamida-Garden

One of the ‘big five’ soldierflies (4 Stratiomys species plus Odontomyia ornata). Easily distinguished from O. ornata by the long antennae. It is one of two boldy marked yellow and black Stratiomys species with pale tibiae and an extensively yellow underside to the abdomen. The other species is S. chamaeleon which has a pair of broad, wedge-shaped yellow spots on the sides of tergite 3 and and the yellow mark of the scutellum with an angular fore margin (the best field clue as the folded wings can obscure the abdominal markings).

This is our most widespread Stratiomys and certainly the most frequent inland, though is nevertheless localised and scarce in most districts. It is associated with a variety of non-brackish wetland types, especially seepage-fed marsh, the margins of waterbodies, fens, wet meadows, ditches, the wet parts of woods; also occasionally the perched pools of soft-rock cliffs or landward side of grazing marsh (which can occasionally result in the presence of three Stratiomys species at one site!). Most sites are characterised by good water-quality.

Coelioxys conoidea- Cavenham Heath NR

Distribution
Widespread in southern England from the south coast north to Somerset and Norfolk. In Wales known from Glamorgan, Pembroke, Carmarthen and Merioneth. According to Felton (in Hawksworth, 1974), it may be a relatively recent arrival in Wales, having been first found there, in Glamorgan, in 1972 (although the record from Merioneth is based on a specimen collected in 1919 and now in Coventry Museum (S J Falk, pers. com.)). Its absence prior to that date was remarked upon by Hallett (1928). The first record of the species from Kent was in 1952 (Leclerq, 1968). Also recorded from the Channel Islands. Although the host of this cleptoparasite occurs in southern Ireland, there are no records of C. conoidea from that country. Unlike most British Coelioxys, this species is occasionally locally common where found, especially on the coast. The species occurs throughout much of Europe and the Middle East, from Fennoscandia east to at least Iran and Afghanistan.
Status (in Britain only)
This bee is not regarded as being scarce or threatened.
Habitat
Coastal dunes and landslips, inland commons and heaths and, more rarely, chalk grassland.
Flight period
Univoltine; mid June to late August.
Nesting biology
A cleptoparasite of the leafcutter bee Megachile maritima (Smith 1876; Gardner 1901; Chambers 1949).
Flowers visited
Sea-lavender (Limonium species), common mallow (Malva sylvestris), sea rocket (Cakile maritima), bramble (Rubus fruticosus agg.), sea-holly (Eryngium maritimum), sea bindweed (Calystegia soldanella), thyme (Thymus species), spear thistle (Cirsium vulgare), knapweeds (Centaurea species) and ragwort (Senecio sp.).
Parasites
No information available.

Stelis phaeoptera-Garden -Rare

I have seen about three of these in my garden I am assuming that they are using the many Osmia leaiana as hosts.

SONY DSC

Description and notes
Since recording began this has always been considered a rare cleptoparasitic bee, but during this century it has decreased alarmingly.

Distribution
Formerly widely distributed in England, mainly south of a line extending from the Severn to the Wash, with additional records from Monmouthshire (Hallett, 1956). Recent records are only from a few scattered localities in England (especially in Devon) and south Wales. The reason for the decline is unknown. In Europe, the species is found from southern Finland to Greece, and into Asia It also occurs in North Africa (Morocco).
Status (in Britain only)
Listed as Rare (RDB3) by Shirt (1987). Provisionally listed as Vulnerable (pRDB2) by Falk (1991). Owing to the paucity of recent records, the status should be reviewed.
Habitat
Many of the modern Devon records are of bees flying about or alighting on cob walls, these perhaps containing the nest burrows of its host species (megachiline bees).
Flight period
Univoltine; from late May to mid August (rarely September).
Nesting biology
The host species of this Stelis have not been confirmed for Britain. Jones (1932) removed a female S. phaeoptera from a nest burrow of Osmia leaiana at Wicken Fen, Cambridgeshire. However, other megachiline species may also be hosts of this cleptoparasite in Britain.
Flowers visited
Bird’s-foot-trefoil (Lotus corniculatus), field scabious (Knautia arvensis), hawkweed (Hieracium sp.), spear thistle (Cirsium vulgare) and speedwell (Veronica sp.).