Insects of Normandy
Insects often get a bad name, thought of as annoying flies or unpleasant creepy-crawlies but that is perhaps an unfair image to place on all insects. As with any region of the world, Normandy has its fair share of really wonderful insects that I am sure even the most ardent "insectaphobe"* would love!!
*Apparently "insectaphobe" isn't a real word so if anyone could tell me what the correct one is I would be very happy!
Wonderful insects of Normandy
Summer is of course the best time to spot butterflies and now, in July they are simply clouds of them as you walk or drive around the countryside. But in mild weather I have even seen them as early as February (Brimstones) and as late as Boxing Day (Peacocks and Tortoiseshells). I love all of these but we do occasionally get to see a real beauty - a Swallowtail. I have only seen one once but I see their snazzy caterpillars most summers.
I love the fact that in French moths are called Papillions de nuit (Moths of the night). Many are really beautiful if you get the chance to see them close up ... and one in particular is a real stunner and often comes out in the daytime: the Hummingbird Hawkmoth, so called as it hovers around flowers drinking their nectar in a similar way to real hummingbirds.
We have some really cracking beetles but 2 stand out for me:
I had never seen these before we came to France as they have not yet managed to get across The English Channel. They are a small red beetle, often found in quite large numbers but totally harmless. They are so called as they marking as supposed to be like that of early French policemen (gendarmes)
These are the Kings and Queens of beetles, huge with the male having rather intimating pincers. Fabulous insects!
With so much countryside full of wild flowers in Normandy there are masses of bees to be seen. We have even had a few swarms here which is an absolutely amazing site to see. Two bees stand out for me though:
Black Carpenter Bee
This bee is huge and black - sounds ominous but it really isn't and I love them ... and they love our sage flowers
Ivy bees are a relatively new species to Normandy and appear late in the season when the only food available is ivy flowers. Last year I had hundreds of them in the polytunnel for reason I have never worked out but as they do not sting and caused no harm I didn't worry. You can read more about them here (Part 1) and here (Part 2).
When I first saw a glow worm in the UK many years ago I thought someone had dropped something digital as the glow from their tail is bright green and exactly the same as an on light for many things ... we see these otherwise rather boring insects in the summer months and their glowing tails never cease to amaze.
Image by Timo Newton-Syms from Chalfont St Giles, Bucks, UK (Glow worm) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Are you an "insectaphobe" or do you love all these creatures equally. Have you a favourite ... or LEAST favourite insect?