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Hymenoptera Recorder’s Report 2013–14 Adrian Knowles The grounds of the Center Parcs holiday village at Elveden have long been known as an important site for solitary bees and wasps, following survey work by Steven Falk for the company in the late 1990s and early 2000s. However, when those surveys were undertaken, the site was still relatively new and open, with large areas of bare ground created during site development. In 2013, I was invited to spend some time re-visiting the site in order to see how the site has changed and, specifically, to try and determine whether or not the UK BAP species Cerceris quinquefasciata (Rossius) (the Five-banded Weevil Wasp) still occurred there. It does, but there are now relatively few suitable nesting locations for it, with it favouring relatively steep, sparsely vegetated banks with a southerly aspect and open to plenty of sunshine. Some other interesting species were also recorded during the survey, including only the third modern Suffolk record for the digger wasp Ectemnius ruficornis (Zetterstedt). This was recorded at Elveden by Falk in 2004, so it is good to know that it survives there. Also present was the bee Heriades truncorum (L.), this being the first record of this bee from the Suffolk Brecks (although it has been seen from nearby in Norfolk). It was also possible to confirm the survival of the large and distinctive mining bee Andrena hattorfiana (Fab.). This is a Nationally Rare (RDB3) bee that collects pollen from the flowers of Field Scabious (Knautia arvensis) and occasionally Small Scabious (Scabiosa columbaria). It was found foraging at a very small stand of scabious plants along the southern perimeter of the site. In June 2013, Stuart Warrington of the National Trust provided the fifth modern Suffolk record for the mason wasp Odynerus spinipes (L.) from Orfordness. This species has records scattered across England and Wales, northwards to the Lake District, but is curiously scarce (or still very underrecorded) in East Anglia, with a handful of broadly coastal records from Norfolk and Suffolk. It builds small chimneys, constructed from soil particles and sand grains, over the mouth of its subterranean nest gallery, thought to be as a means of thwarting would-be brood parasites. This is a trait peculiar to Odynerus species and can be the first indication that these species are present at a site. During the summer of 2013, I assisted Paul Lee of Hymettus (and SNS spider/myriapod Recorder) in gathering data for a pilot study looking at the role of bees as pollinators in the countryside. This added some interesting new records of the bumblebee Bombus jonellus (Kirby), which is a heathland specialist, from Aldringham Walks and Sutton Common. Curiously, this bumblebee has yet to be recorded from the Breckland heaths. Also of interest during the pollinator study was the collection of a female Halictus confusus Bluthgen from Sutton. This is a small, brassy green mining bee that is Nationally Rare (RDB3) and, in Suffolk, had only previously been recorded in Breckland. This study also yielded two specimens of the scarce and declining Red-shanked Bumblebee Bombus ruderarius (Müller), from Icklingham north of Bury St Edmunds.

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Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 50

In September 2013, Rob Garrod sent me a photograph of a large, distinctive bee he’d noted during his frequent studies around Holywells Park in Ipswich. This was quite clearly the Ivy Bee Colletes hederae Schmidt & Westrich, and a new county record. Interestingly, this is a relatively newly described species, being recorded as new to science as recently as 1993, before which it was confused with two other, similar species. It is also a fairly new coloniser to the UK, being recorded in Dorset in 2001. Since then it has spread quite rapidly across southern England and is now making inroads into Wales, the Midlands and East Anglia. It is one of the latest solitary bees to be on the wing, foraging at Ivy flowers from late August to late October or even early November. September 2014 saw the second Suffolk record of this bee, having been observed by Steve Goddard at the Spa Gardens, Felixstowe. A specimen sent in the post confirmed the identification and prompted me to visit the site in order to see the bee in action. I was not disappointed, with a large swarm of insects cruising low over some bare ground under a tree within which numerous nesting galleries had been excavated. In April of 2014, Hawk Honey took a photograph of a distinctive yellow, orange and black bee at Purdis Heath near Ipswich. Whilst identifying species from photographs is a hazardous business, I was fairly certain that this was the Nationally Vulnerable (RDB2) cuckoo bee Nomada signata Jurine, and this was confirmed by national authority George Else, to whom the photograph was sent. This is only the fifth Suffolk record for this bee and the second for the East Suffolk vice county. It is a “cuckoo” species (cleptoparasite) on the rather more common Tawny Mining Bee Andrena fulva (Müller), and the reasons for its relative rarity are unclear. It (the Nomada) has declined significantly across England in recent decades. 2014 has seen a number of interesting records from no further afield than my house and garden in Capel St Mary. The most remarkable of these was on 16 July. I was in my back garden when I noticed a medium-sized bee foraging at flowers of Dotted Loosestrife Lysimachia punctata, a close relative of the wild Yellow Loosestrife L. vulgaris. I fancifully considered the likelihood of the bee being Macropis europaea Warncke, a nationally scarce species that forages almost exclusively on Yellow Loosestrife in the wild, but which has also been known to visit the garden Dotted Loosestrife. It was, indeed, Macropis europaea. This is a rare insect in Suffolk, with only three other known localities, although Tim Strudwick has recorded it widely at the RSPB Lakenheath Fen reserve in the far-northwest of the county. Paul Lee recorded it from Carlton Colville in the far north-east, in 2008. My garden is fully 25 miles from the nearest known locality for this bee, but there is obviously much we do not known about the dispersal powers of species in their attempts to colonise new habitat. I saw no other individuals this summer, so maybe it was a vagrant, but I shall remain vigilant during 2015. On 2 August I took a distinctive yellow and black wasp from the privet hedge in my front garden, as a welcome distraction from my labours there. This was the digger wasp Lestiphorus bicinctus (Rossi), and only the third location for this species in the county, although it is thinly widespread across south-east England and the extreme south-west.

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 50 (2014)


HYMENOPTERA HEADERREPORT

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On 6 August 2014, whilst wandering through my dining room, I saw what was clearly a spider-hunting wasp (Family Pompilidae) dancing around on the inside of the window. Following capture, this proved to be a female Auplopus carbonarius (Scopoli) and a first record for Suffolk. This is a Nationally Scarce species (as per Falk, 1991) which, until relatively recently, was largely confined to London and the extreme south-east. However, in recent years it has been noted further afield, appearing in north Essex in the late 1990s. Curiously, three days later I took the second Suffolk record of this species whilst attending a “bioblitz” event organised by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust at its Foxburrow Farm nature reserve north of Woodbridge. Doubtless it now occurs more widely across Suffolk, awaiting discovery. This bioblitz event yielded several other records of interest, proving the value of such events, not only as a public awareness and education exercise, but also in encouraging expert recorders to visit places that might not otherwise have drawn their attention. Two species of note were observed nesting in old wood-worm galleries in the timbers of an open-sided barn being used as the co-ordination centre for the event. One of the Trust’s education team, Hawk Honey, pointed out a small bee busily going to and fro from some of the larger holes. This proved to be the nationally Vulnerable (UK Red Data Book 2) Heriades truncorum. This species was reported new to Suffolk in 2008 (Knowles, 2009) and is now known from six localities, mainly in the south of the county, although it was recorded for the first time in the Brecks in 2013 (see above). I took a specimen in my garden in Capel St Mary during 2013. It is another species (akin to Auplopus) that was formerly restricted to the extreme south-east of England but which has recently undergone a significant range expansion. The second species seen nesting in these timbers, Stigmus pendulus Panzer, also loosely fits into that category, although it was only first recorded in Britain in 1986 (Allen 1987), from Smarden in East Kent. At the time of Falk (1991) it was known from only three sites in Britain, with two sites in South Essex to accompany the original Kent location. Today, its main centre is still around the Home Counties, but there are scattered records through the Midlands to Yorkshire and westwards to Dorset. It is a small and slender species, capable of nesting in small wood-worm galleries no thicker than a pencil lead. A foray to the far north-east of the county in June 2014 yielded some interesting records from Outney Common near Bungay. Amongst these was the Mud Wasp Podalonia affinis (Kirby). This is currently listed as Nationally Rare (RDB3, Falk 1991), although it is perhaps a little more widespread and secure than this status might suggest. It is one of a curious suite of essentially coastal species in the UK that has a major inland population in Breckland. It is also present in several sites in the Sandlings, but as the following map shows, the Outney Common record is something of an outlier from either of these populations.

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 50 (2014)


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Podalonia affinis 1

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TG

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TL 6

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Another trip to the north-east in June followed an invitation to take part in a bioblitz event at Africa Alive Animal Park near Kessingland. The indifferent weather rather supressed flying insect activity, but the trip was made worthwhile by the capture of the second modern Suffolk specimen of the mining bee Andrena fulvago Christ. This was reported (Knowles 2012) as being rediscovered in Suffolk during a bioblitz event at Chantry Park, Ipswich; that being the first Suffolk record for over 200 years. References Allen, G. W. (1987), Stigmus pendulus Panzer (Hymenoptera: Sphecidae) new to Britain. Entomologist’s Gazette 38: 214. Falk, S. J. (1991), A review of the scarce and threatened bees, wasps and ants of Great Britain. Research and Survey in Nature Conservation, No. 35, Peterborough: Nature Conservancy Council. Knowles, A. (2009). Heriades truncorum (Linnaeus 1758) (Hymenoptera: Apidae) – new to Suffolk. Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 45: 10. Knowles, A. (2012). Hymenoptera Recorder’s Report 2012. Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 48: 88–92. Adrian Knowles Jessups Cottage, London Road, Capel St Mary, Suffolk, IP9 2JR hymenoptera@sns.org.uk

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 50 (2014)

Hymenoptera Recorder’s Report 2013–14  

Adrian Knowles

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