Sunday, 22 April 2012

The Story Of Beetlemania

The life story of the fab four in the UK.
No, not John, George, Paul and Ringo. I'll explain later.

This is Apple Red Valentine, another columnar apple tree, but this one is a little different. I purchased it last year. It bloomed but didn't produce any fruit, which was a good thing, because it allowed it to get established. It's growing on one of the new dwarf root stocks and is planted in a large pot on the patio. As you can see the blossom is a lovely pink colour, but would you believe, the fruit will be deep red, and the flesh will be red also. The flavour is supposed to resemble strawberries. Can't wait. I'll let you know if that's true later in the year.

Now then, the beatles, sorry I mean beetles. May I introduce to you; Violet, Black, Rugged and Short-Neck. Yes, the original fab four, known as oil beetles. They are very rare, and the subject of a wildlife survey organised by Buglife. My reason for introducing them to you, is the amazing story of their life cycle that I read about recently. Are you sitting comfortably ?

Female oil beetles are quite large, flightless beetles who tend to live in grassland areas. They only live for a few months, and spend their time eating grasses and searching for a mate. Once they have mated, they grow even larger, and dig a burrow in which to lay their eggs. The eggs hatch, and the resultant larvae clamber up into flowers, awaiting the arrival of a solitary bee. Now I've got two questions here; how do they know which flowers attract bees, and how do they recognise a solitary bee ?

On with the story. When a solitary bee arrives, they jump onto it, Indiana Jones style I would imagine, and hitch a ride to its nest. Here they feed on the collected nectar and pollen and the bee's eggs. Then they pupate and overwinter in the bee's nest, emerging in the spring as fully grown adults. Apparently, oil beetles are in decline, good news for the solitary bees though. Isn't nature amazing ?

And finally a big thank you to Mary at Going Native who has nominated me for The Versatile Blogger award. In accepting the award, I have to tell you 7 things about myself, and nominate 15 other bloggers for the award. So thinking cap on, I'll see what I can come up with in my next post.


  1. Hello fellow gardener, who is not afraid of getting wet when gardening.
    It was great to read your comment and to learn that I am not the only crazy woman gardener in the country :)

    Love the info on the beetles.....I have read a little about them.
    I have two beetle mounds in the garden.
    I love my beetle mounds.......

  2. A lovely photo and a fascinating story about the beetles...Nature never ceases to amaze me!

  3. Very interesting post - and a lovely photo of the blossom, most unusual.