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Meet the

Pollinators

Solitary bee
Solitary Bees
Peacock butterfly
Guernsey Butterflies

Solitary Bees

In Guernsey, we have around 90 species of bee  – six are bumblebees and one is the honeybee, the other 82 (approx) are solitary bees. 

These species are social and live in colonies. The other 93% are solitary bees – that’s 83 species! Many species are very similar and hard to tell apart, so we have picked twenty species that are much more identifiable.

Where do they live

Unlike bumblebees and honeybees, solitary bees do not live in colonies, produce honey or have a queen. However some species nest in groups or ‘aggregations’, but they are still nesting on their own.
Some solitary bees make nests in hollow stalks, but most dig tubular burrows in soil, sand, mortar or wood. A few nest in empty snail shells! You can help solitary bees by making a bee hotel for your garden, which will be used as nests by species such as mason and leafcutter bees.

What do they eat

Solitary bees, like other pollinating insects, feed on nectar and pollen from flowers.  Certain flowers are better at providing food for insects than others.  

Moths

Mainly nocturnal, moths are numerous and widespread, with over 2,500 species in Britain, and over 1,300 in the Bailiwick.

But moth numbers are declining. The State of Britain’s Larger Moths Report found that two-thirds of common and widespread larger species have declined in the last 40 years.

These alarming decreases in moth populations are not just bad news for the moths themselves, but also have worrying implications for the rest of our wildlife.

Moth caterpillars are especially important for feeding young birds, with Blue Tit chicks alone needing an estimated 35 billion a year! Both adult moths and their caterpillars are food for a wide variety of wildlife,
including other insects, small mammals, amphibians, and birds. Night-flying adult moths form a major part of the diet of bats.

Moths also benefit plants by pollinating flowers while feeding on their nectar. This not only benefits wild plants but also many of our food crops, which depend on moths as well as other insects to ensure a good harvest.

Did you know? Butterflies and moths are closely related. A quick way to tell the difference is to look at their antennae: butterflies have clubbed antennae (bulbous at the tips) whereas moths don’t.

 

Butterflies

When we talk about Guernsey butterflies, we mean butterfly species that are seen elsewhere in the UK and Europe, but that breed and over-winter in Guernsey as egg, larva, pupa or adult. As well as food, habitat is very important for these butterflies – a plant to lay their eggs on, a plant to shelter in and a plant for their larvae to eat.

We also see butterflies that migrate here in the summer, such as the Clouded Yellow. They are never able to establish here sadly – in distant times they would come over in huge numbers apparently, sometimes bringing with them Pale Clouded Yellows, and even Marbled Whites. But modern farming methods and pesticides mean that kind of hasn’t occurred in my lifetime, indeed the last major irruption coincided with the end of WWII.

If the migrant butterflies arrive in midsummer they can breed on certain plants and a second generation can then be much more numerous, but that is also very rare.

So, what can be seen here in Guernsey beside our 19 residents?

In order of rarity, commonest first ( This isn’t a definitive list and we are working with the Guernsey Biological Records centre on a wide list of all the butterflies that visit Guernsey and are hoping to release this in 2022.)

I, as a butterfly recorder since 1997, have seen these migrant butterflies in Guernsey.

Painted Lady
Clouded Yellow (above)
Long-tailed Blue
Swallowtail
Brimstone
Large Tortoiseshell
Small Heath
Orange-tip
Queen of Spain Fritillary

Some of our keener butterfly spotters have also recorded these rarities:

Camberwell Beauty
Pale Clouded Yellow
Monarch
Sooty Copper

If you would like to join a Butterfly Spotting walk, look out for Facebook events in the Summer, or email us

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