Love Affair With Lavender

The diversity of insects that forage on lavender is quite astounding, even though they are only foraging for nectar, not pollen. I counted 19 different species on the lavender over just a couple of days. At any given time there are at least 5 or 6 different species present. Bumble bees (Bombus) move much more swiftly, they work the flowers much quicker and they are the most abundant in terms of numbers. Honey bees are a much rarer sight. What is apparent is the exceedingly long proboscis that many of those insects have; lavender nectaries are deep down and this explains why honey bees, which have comparatively shorter ligula, are fewer in number.

The carpenter bee (Xylocopa violacea) is a big black bee with blue wings and was very interesting to observe. I followed a few specimens for a whole afternoon, one of them stayed on the plant overnight and in the morning it was very still, or maybe it hadn’t woken up yet! After a while it started moving and stretching it legs as though waking up. The photo below shows it stretching to the next flower rather than flying to it.

In the gallery below you can see the photographs of the full range of insects spotted. I was unable to identify all the different species, if any of our readers can help with this, please get in touch!

Also, for those interested in learning more on this subject, it is worth reading an interesting study from Sussex University (Ratnieks) about lavender attractiveness and how making informed choices when planting gardeners can help pollinators at no extra cost.