Rose Sawfly larva  -  (Arge ochropus / pagana)
Large Rose Sawfly  -  (Arge ochropus / pagana)

Rose Sawfly are black in colour with a yellow / orange abdomen and grow to around 10mm in length as adults. The larvae feed on both wild and cultivated roses and can cause serious damage to the rose plant. The adult uses its saw tail to cut a slit in the stem of the rose plant and lay its eggs. As they grow the stem splits open. The larvae emerge and immediately start feeding on the leaves on the rose plant. Larvae can grow to 20-25mm in length. The larvae of both species Arge ochropus / pagana are very difficult to distinguish.




Common Red Soldier Beetle  (Rhagonycha fulva)
Common Red Soldier Beetle  (Rhagonycha fulva)
A common and widespread beetle found across the UK and growing to around 1cm in length. Adults are usually seen from June to August on wild flowers. They feed on nectar and pollen but will also predate on other small insects visiting the flower. This beetle is harmless to humans but is often mistakenly feared by children and called the "Bloodsucker" because of its bright red appearance. The larvae live at the base of long grass and feed on small insects and other invertebrate such as slugs. There are around 40 different species of Soldier Beetle in the UK with varying combinations of red, black and orange colouration.


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10mm Black Garden Ant queen  -  photographed 15th September 2019 in SE London
Black Garden Ant   -   (Lasius niger)
The Black Garden Ant, or Common Black Ant, is the most common of the 60 species of ant found in the UK and they can also be found across most of Europe, North and South America, Asia and Australia. Queens can grow to over 15mm in length whilst female workers are around 3mm. Workers are black in colour whilst queens are far browner. The Black Garden Ant lives in a colony consisting of a queen and up to 15,000 female workers. The workers tend to the queen and the larvae and also gather food for the colony. The colonies are built in dry soil which is usually positioned in a spot where it is warmed by the sun. This can be in lawns or flowerbeds, but under heavy items such as paving slabs is the most regular choice of location.

When the colony has reached its maximum capacity the queen starts to give birth to new virgin winged queens known as princesses, and flying males known as drones. The princesses are larger than the drones and considerably larger than the female workers. When conditions are right the flying ants will swarm and leave the colonies in search of partners from other colonies to mate with. The queen will give birth to large numbers of these winged forms of ant, known as alates, but most will be eaten by birds and never get the opportunity to build new colonies.

The males will only live very short lives of around one week and die soon after mating. The new queens will usually mate with several different males before they begin their search for somewhere to start a new colony. They will then chew off their own wings and live the rest of their lives as terrestrial ants. During their mating period the queen will have stored enough sperm from the males to allow her to lay thousands of eggs over her 15 year lifespan. In captivity some queens have lived for 28 years!

Once a suitable location has been found the queen will start building an underground chamber where she will lay her first eggs. She will not feed again for several weeks until her offspring are reared and able to leave the colony and set off to forage for food for her. When a foraging worker ant finds a source of food it will carry what it can back to the nest whilst leaving a pheromone scent trail allowing other worker ants to follow her footsteps to the food source. The Black Garden Ant is the only species of British ant that regularly ventures into human homes.

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