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Winter backyard biodiversity

Updated: May 17, 2021

It’s the middle of winter in the southern hemisphere, but where I am we still have the odd fine days. The garden is green and there are many flowers out in full bloom and a perfect day for a quick backyard Bioblitz. I had a little gardening to do, the weeds had gotten a little out of control and I wanted to do some planting as well. So I took my camera out with me in case there was anything interesting, and I was not disappointed.

While I was in the garden I noticed there were a lot of small flies, bees hoverflies and wasps about so I decided to take some time and make some observations on inaturalist. I saw a couple of Ichneumonid wasps, one of most species’ rich families with around 25, 000 species described. With such a diverse group it is often hard to identify what species they are, however, this was a species that I have seen before they were a couple of Ctenochares bicolorus. This is a species native to Africa that is now found in New Zealand, Europe and Great Brittan and a frequent visitor to my garden.

Ctenochares bicolorus

I then saw some hoverfly’s and on closer inspection, they seemed to be some Common Halfband Melangyna viridiceps. Hoverflies are commonly mistaken for bees because they also feed on pollen and nectar, but you can tell they are flies as they only have two flying wings. It's interesting that the larvae of hoverflies are actually carnivores and feed on aphids so they are really great insects to have in the garden.

Common Halfband Melangyna viridiceps feeding on some rocket (Eruca vesicaria)

In the nasturtium, I found sitting on top of a leaf a Crusader Bug Mictis profana was sitting still so I could get a clear shot. I don’t see these very often so I was interested to make an observation. While I was working there was a mass of ants including some winged queens from several species I found this curious as I had not taken note of when I had seen the queens before. This is an interesting observation for iNaturalist as it could be useful for future studies on phenology.

Stephen has worked on mosquitoes for quite some time, recently he has been working on citizen science projects including Mozzie Monitors and Activating Citizen Scientists. He has also coordinated the Greater Adelaide City Nature Challenge in 2020.

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