There are many impressive flying insects on the wing during the summer months. Some due to their colours or intricate design and others are just large.
In this last category fall the Carpenter bee, the Hornet, the thread wasted and the Mammoth wasps.
Many people flap their arm in fear at these airborne creatures whereas standing still and observing them may be better practice, they are generally docile and quite attractive if viewed calmly. (Unless you are poking the hornets nest of course!)
The first Hornet activity this year out in the garden was in early spring. Several were actively hunting for bees which I would presume to be the newly hatched queens as all but the breeding hornets are vegetarian. They flew around the almond trees with heavily scented blossom and plucked honey bees out of the air.
They took the fresh prey to a nearby branch (gory bit – dissected and dropped the head) and devoured their meal. Hornets create a new hive each year from scratch, starting with a single queen.
Just click the Insect image title to read more about each insect over at the Grazalema Guide website.
imagine a bumble bee, double its size, paint it jet black in your mind’s eye and give it iridescent blue / violet wings. They are large, noisy, weigh down flowers with their bulk but can deftly avoid humans with their lumbered flight. If they enter the house it is usually to search for a suitable nest hole. They are solitary creatures and gained their common name due to their ability to make nest holes in dead would. Although they can do this they take the easier option of ready made holes in wood, metal, brick etc whenever possible.
A long black insect with two yellow stripes on the abdomen and a yellow face if female. This has a complicated lifecycle as the Mammoth wasp parasitizes a beetle larva. At the moment there are 6 or more flying around each large rotten tree stump in the garden. They all seem to be males and are probably waiting for the females to emerge. Later in the summer, when they have settled down they are much easier to observe feeding off flowers, with alliums being a favourite.
Wasp like with yellow / black colours these creatures are also people friendly. They search out shaded, protected places to create their mud nests and the back of a picture frame seems an ideal choice. They carefully roll up a tiny ball of mud outside, fly with it into the house, deposit it, shape it and return with more tirelessly throughout the day. They produce a hollow tube and next to this they make another and another fanning the wet mud with their wings to assist the drying process.
Bees and wasps may receive bad press and cause unnecessary concern to many, especially as some of the species of Iberia can be rather large.
Hornets were once common throughout Europe but are suffering decline due to the misconception that such a large wasp type creature would have a very dangerous sting. The fact is, they are no worse than a normal wasp sting, will again avoid human closeness and they have a fascinating life cycle.
We must not forget that this group are important pollinators of our crops. Also some wasps feed on caterpillars that may otherwise be a garden pest and flies do a necessary job of clearing up decaying matter.
Altogether they aid the biodiversity that is delicately balanced to a level beyond our perception.
The Grazalema Guide – Tourist Information Portal for the Sierra de Grazalema, The town of Ronda and the Caminito del Rey.