I like the hornets, they get a bad press, but are in fact less aggressive than wasps (who are - themselves - less aggressive than their press!) and have become regular visitors to the garden, always happy to pose and never having had a go at me!
Tuesday found all these (cropped and collaged to approximate scale with each other) sunning themselves on the fence panels, although two were also busy making wood-pulp for their paper nests.
The hornet (left) is a newbie, and not much bigger then a queen wasp; half the size of the big brutish-looking ones who will be getting drunk on wind-fall apples in five months time! The wasp is a worker, there has been a queen hovering round the back of the house looking for somewhere to start a nest, but this is the progeny of a sharper one, who's already got started elsewhere!
The bee seems to be a carder or mining bee of some sort, or maybe a rarer eucera? People tend to call them all bumble bees but most of them aren't! I shoot loads of fury bees through the year and one day I'll sit down with a good bee-book and sort all the pictures out - then I'll really bore you!
Earlier (last week particularly - but for most of a month now) we've had some lovely weather and a lot of butterflies have been out, I've seen holly blues, an over-wintered peacock (in March), lots of brimstones and various small whites (mostly female brimstones and female orange tips), these are speckled woods which were sunning themselves on the Spirea
At the same time I caught this ant dragging a fortnight's rations home to the nest! I have a little video I'll try and upload to Youtube, if successful a link will follow. I think the victim is a smaller beetle larva.
That worked! I'll have to do more video's?
My favourite butterfly at this time of year (it used to be brimstones, but they are two-a-penny!) is the orange tip (or copper tip) and they can be fidgets; difficult to catch, but on cool mornings they prove a little sluggish before they've topped-up the tan, and can be photogenic!
Something that's really hard to shoot is the bee fly, it never stops and so is never in focus as every (literally 'every') fibre of its being is vibrating like a humming bird! I love them, they seem to be a cross between teddy-bears and alien Starfighters - little pointed triangles of purposeful fur!
This is some kind of dwarf euphorbia I think, the flies and hoverflies love it at this time of year.
I also shot these commas at the end of March, the wing-edges are lacking the usually more uneven topography or crenellations distinctive of the species (particularly the left-hand example), probably due to them being over-wintered specimens who's wings have somewhat 'rounded off' with wear and tear!
It also has the darker colouration of the winter generation. The commas have two generations per year, which makes the instinctive behaviour of each all the more remarkable, as all the genetic coding has to jump a 'season' in order to get the child to act like the grandparent, not the parent!
We dumb, curious monkeys struggle to teach basic manners to our children with the aid of a compulsory schooling process, a police force and a judicial system - yet we're threatening most butterflies and most other life on earth!