The summer is now in full swing, nights are shorter, dawn is breaking earlier, and the sky is full of bird song. Listen out for the Song Thrush’s repeated refrain, its speckled breast inflating with every few notes. June also marks the height of the breeding season for the infamous cuckoo, a bird that has developed an ingenious way of shirking parental responsibility by spooking birds off their nest to lay its own egg. The chick then gets fed and watered by its host.
Swifts, arguably the most agile of all birds, now make their presence known with their high-pitched, piercing screams as they whirl and dive through the air. These wonderful creatures eat, sleep and mate on the wing, only ever touching land to hatch out their young. To maintain their energy levels, they consume an array of different insects and airborne spiders.
This takes us to the humble hoverfly, helicopters of the insect world and an invaluable addition to a healthy garden. In their adult form these excellent pollinators can be easily mistaken for wasps or bees. However, take a few moments to observe them and the way in which they move: hovering almost motionless in the air and then quickly darting to another spot to hover again as they survey the area. Their larvae are voracious predators targeting soft bodied insects like aphids. These sapsucking pests are one of the most destructive insects but provide an important part of nature’s food chain.
Do: leave a wild area of garden close to the vegetable patch. This is where predators such as shrews, hedgehogs, ladybirds and ground beetles will hide and emerge to munch on those aphids, pesky caterpillars and slugs. The array of colourful flowers not only looks attractive but also entices butterflies, bees and other pollinating insects.
Get involved: 30 days wild https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/30dayswild connect with nature at least once a day through the month of June and feel the benefits.
Insect week runs from the 20th to 26th June with lots of ways to learn more about insects so look out for activities and events up and down the country.