A wasp new to the UK?

The solitary wasp Pemphredon austriaca (Kohl, 1888) is a species not currently recorded in the UK. It appears to have been increasing in the Netherlands in recent decades and there is a good chance that it could be overlooked in the UK.

This small, black wasp shows a preference for using Marble Galls, which are caused by the gall wasp Andricus kollari and found on oak. A. kollari emerges from these spherical galls, leaving small circular emergence holes. Other insects then take advantage of these chambers for shelter or nesting, including P. austriaca, which constructs nest cells within the gall.

February and March are the perfect months to collect some of these Marble Galls (where you can see the circular emergence holes) and provide something else to keep an eye out for on those familiar lockdown walk routes. Keep them in a plastic pot with some fine mesh or muslin secured over the top, or a specific mesh rearing container if you happen to have one, and make sure they are labelled with a location and the date collected. They should be kept as close to ambient temperature as possible, so a shed or covered area outside is ideal. The wasps are on the wing from May to August on the continent, so it’s worth starting to check the container every few days (or ideally daily) from mid-April to see if anything emerges.

If you are lucky enough to have some potential wasps emerge and are not sure how to identify them, get in touch with BWARS: https://www.bwars.com/content/bwars-contacts Happy hunting and fingers crossed for another wasp species to add to the UK list!

For more information, see this paper from the Netherlands: https://edepot.wur.nl/347358

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Nature Notes December 2020

Total monthly rainfall: 159.5 millimetres.  Maximum daily rainfall: 36 millimetres (4th Dec)

Altogether there were 19 days when measurable rain fell, and 17 days with 100% cloud cover for at least part of the day. There was an overnight gale on December 26th into the 27th which brought down many young trees, and caused all ponds to overflow.

Maximum temperature on the warmest day was 13°C on December 21st. Maximum temperature on the coldest day was 2°C on the 31st. There were overnight frosts on December 1st, 2nd, 7th, 8th, 13th, 18th, 25th, and 28th to 31st. Most of these days also suffered from early fog and a cold wind-chill. All ponds were thinly part-frozen on the 31st.

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Noble Chafer Survey 2021

The noble chafer Gnorimus nobilis is a large metallic beetle which has been rare in Britain for the past century. The species is associated with traditional orchards and wood pasture where it's larvae feed on old, decaying wood within live trees.

In Britain, the species has been rare for the past century and is classified as ‘Vulnerable’, being a Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) species. Traditional orchards are designated priority habitats but are increasingly being lost due to modern orchard management techniques or clearing of orchards for development.

Dr. Deborah Harvey of Royal Holloway, University of London has previously run a monitoring scheme for the species alongside the People's Trust for Endangered Species (PTES). She is now looking for volunteers for the 2021 season who would be prepared to deploy traps and lures in appropriate habitats and check them regularly in June this year.

If you are interested, please contact Deborah at .

 

Image: gbohne from Berlin, Germany, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

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Reminder: Your Field Notes Wanted for 2020 Bulletin!

 

Due to the cancellation of our field programme in 2020, there will unfortunately be none of the usual meeting reports to compile into this year's Bulletin. To make up for this, the Assistant Editor would be happy to receive any reports from members, whether from your house or garden, your local area or further afield in Kent. These can be accounts for specific sites and occasions or observations of notable species. If you are interested in contributing, please get in touch via the website.

 

The deadline for submissions is 15th February.

 

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KWT's Gardening For A Wilder Kent 2021

 

For many years, Kent Wildlife Trust has run a Wild About Gardens advice and awards scheme to support and recognise individuals, groups and organisations in maximising the value of their gardens for wild species. Needless to say, for those fortunate enough to have access to them, gardens represent a great opportunity for biological recording and long-term monitoring especially under COVID restrictions.

Below is information regarding this year's activities from the coordinator, Maureen Rainey:

 

Nature is in trouble. We are suffering loss of biodiversity at an alarming rate, in particular insects. But it is not too late. We can all do something to reverse the trend and these actions, however small, will add up to a huge difference. After all, there are 22 million gardens in the UK and together they cover an area greater than nature reserves.

I work with an award-winning team of volunteers at Kent Wildlife Trust who are eager to encourage people to make their gardens and local green spaces more nature friendly. In 2020 because of Covid 19, we were unable to visit gardens in person, so the volunteers have been giving wildlife friendly gardening advice using digital means.

We noticed similar questions occur on regular basis and, rather than just issuing a standard list of “frequently asked questions”, we have planned a series of short, friendly workshops. These will initially be via Zoom. Each session will be restricted to a maximum of 15 people to give all participants the opportunity to ask questions and take part in discussions.  If the sessions are oversubscribed, we will hold a waiting list for repeat sessions, so no one is turned away. It is hoped that, as the year progresses, we will be able to run live sessions from various venues.

The dates for the Zoom sessions are:

23 Jan 2021: Dealing with perceived pests in a wilder garden: https://www.kentwildlifetrust.org.uk/events/2021-01-23-dealing-perceived-pests-wilder-garden-online-course

28 Jan 2021 : Pollinator friendly gardening: https://www.kentwildlifetrust.org.uk/events/2021-01-28-pollinator-friendly-gardening-online-course

20 Feb 2021: Building & maintaining a garden wildlife pond: https://www.kentwildlifetrust.org.uk/events/2021-02-20-building-and-maintaining-garden-wildlife-pond-online-course-pm

20 March 2021: Wilder lawns: https://www.kentwildlifetrust.org.uk/events/2021-03-20-wilder-lawns-online-course

OPEN GARDENS

We are excited to announce that later in the year some of our volunteers will be opening their gardens and giving practical tips on how to make all types of garden nature friendly. Each event will be focussed on one or two specific topics, such as ponds or wilder lawns, and experienced volunteers will be on hand to deal with questions. The relevant Covid 19 restrictions will be adhered to at each site. Booking will be essential and timed tickets can be obtained via Kent Wildlife Trust’s website from January onwards.

Sat 24 April: Wateringbury garden focussing on ponds, nature friendly vegetable gardening and hedgehog habitats

Sat 16 May: Doddington garden focussing on insects and birds

Sat 5 June: Edenbridge garden focussing on wilder lawns

Sat 26 June: Gravesend garden focussing on pollinators and ponds

Sat 18 July: A repeat of the Doddington garden showing seasonal differences and focussing on insects and birds

If you would like any more information, you can get in touch with me by email:  or by phoning 07500111717

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